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Getting Close To Birds

Lesson 6 from: The Art of Photographing Birds

Frans Lanting

Getting Close To Birds

Lesson 6 from: The Art of Photographing Birds

Frans Lanting

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Lesson Info

6. Getting Close To Birds

Some birds aren't skittish around people, but most of the time, wild birds are cautious around people. Master strategies to get close to the birds for better photos, from blending with the surroundings to using a blind.

Lesson Info

Getting Close To Birds

I would like to give you a primer about, you know, the different strategies that I used to get close to birds. Um, on foot. Well, in this case, there's no problem in getting close to birds, right? You just have to get to Antarctica. But once you dare, the locals have no fear. 40 invaders. So this is a one in a lifetime mix of once in a lifetime experience I had when I was able to document the lives of em prepayments. And if there's anything you can do in your lifetime, if you like birches, treat yourself Teoh trip to Antarctica. So but this is an extreme situation. But I like to find places that birds have no fear for human beings because when you can get that close, you can focus all your creative energy own composition, your vantage point, etcetera. Instead of worrying redder, you can get close enough to make the photograph, So I like the work on islands and in other places where birds are innocent. This is an image of ah kakapo, which is the largest parrot in the world. It's flightl...

ess. It lives only in New Zealand, and it is very endangered. It only occurs on a couple of offshore islands and they only come out at night. I have permission to work there. And I went out there with a biologist and we started looking for cock oppose. And the Kaka polls actually are quite curious. So once they hear you shuffling around through the forest, they may come at you and then all you have to do is sit there and go really low so you could be Ideo. And of course, I had to use a flash in that situation. The birth is not afraid. It just wanted to get closer and closer. But what if the birds don't allow you to approach in the open like that? Well, here's a very simple strategy that I've used successfully. You start using contours in the landscape, and this is where Bert photography is a bit like sport. You know, can you out with the birds, or can you find ways in which you can use the lines in the landscape and anything else that exists there to get closer than the birds with ordinarily allow you to be? In this case, we use tumbleweeds. We picked up some reads and then put him in front of us and then be moved very slowly and to the birds in the distance fever still part of the landscape, and we were able to cut the distance to the bird in half. Now, if Burt's really don't allow you to be close at all, you have to use a blind. Or in England, they call them heights. And here's what they look like. These are compact pup tents that collapse and the other, the modern models like this one here, they're made to travel. So the only way a few pounds and I bring them Britney than I go abroad quite often, because you never know. But you run into a situation where they can be applied. So we set up to blinds here. Chris, my wife is very a video camera in one, and I'm next to her and I've got to shooting port. And what will be there to do? We've heard that humpback whale had washed up on that beach along the California coast, and that humpback whale was attracting condors. California condors of under the most endangered birds in North America, and they're huge. If any of you have seen a turkey vulture. They appear quite large compared to most other birds. But next to a condor, this turkey vulture becomes like a sparrow. So this was our reward. But it took several days of sitting in the blinds to let the condors get used to the blinds before we got this picture. So but I love doing this. People say, Don't you get bored when you do that? No, there's always stuff happening around you. So this was the first image made of a California condor scavenging on the humpback whale, something that Spanish explorers have written about centuries ago. But Davis before the era of cameras. So I feel really proud of that picture. Other things you can do, uh, then you have to conceal yourself. Sometimes I use camouflage netting. Here I am in a forest in Ghana to look for a very rare jungle bird, and I didn't have a blind with me, but I managed to get some common flash netting from a friend and we just raped at between two trees, and then I shut behind it and I waited for the bird to come in, and I sat there for two days, the bird came in twice and every time it perched there for maybe 30 seconds. So you have to be patient. But at the same time, you have to be very alert because the action may not last for very long. This bird is a scarlet McCall. It's peeking out from a nesting hole high up in a tree in the Peruvian Amazon, and this took some doing a little extreme. We built a scaffold about 80 feet toll with a very viably platform on top. And then I had to climb up there every morning and do that before dawn so that the birds wouldn't seem even. I got in there. Now you don't do this casually. This is not something you do in a spare weekend, but I was on assignment for National Geographic. We spend months on location, toe overcome the shyness of these birds. But in the end, I was able to do photography like this. That really helped draw a lot of attention to this unique situation of Macaws coming to these riverbanks, but a eat to clay. And here's another image to give you an idea of how extreme it can get. Then you really have to. You see the blind set up on the riverbank down below. And then, in addition, I set up some strokes and a remote camera above the bank so that when the birds with perch in that Liana, I could get a different perspective. This took a lot of time, but ultimately the images you helped contribute to a new sense of conservation in that area. Now, if you're not on assignment for National Geographic and you have a weekend and you do want a practice bird photography, you've already heard me talk about all these wonderful places for birds. Scatter and typically your car is your best opportunity to get close to birds, and this is pretty typical here again, you can see that car door or that window mount that we've spoken about previously, and here, on top of this card, it has a roof rack. I've bolted. Another tripod had been a clamp onto the roof rack, and I recommend that as another solution, especially if you're thinking to go to Africa or to any other place for youth, may be operating from terrain vehicles, uh, ask beforehand from your travel agent or from the local outfitter What kind of vehicles you may end up in. Ask him to send you some pictures and then you could make your preparations accordingly. It really is good to figure that out. Before you board your long flight to India or to Africa and this situation from that vehicle, I was able to make this image of a large eagle. So questions about the approach of birch Haider in the open from blinds or by car. That's great. So I'm curious. Um, do you ever have you ever sort of leave the camera? I mean, uh, that is you could get the camera close to the bird without getting yourself close to the bird and then remote trigger, For example, Leave a camera somewhere, step away and let the bird approach it. So, in other words, sending up remote cameras. Yes, I do that quite regularly. I use camera traps, which can be left alone for quite a long period, and sometimes you know, I do it more opportunistically. And, for instance, in in the Antarctic over I lied photo tours, periodic leave, and they go ashore in places like south Georgia Island. You may be assured for a couple of hours. And if you have a GoPro, another kind of point of view camera. You can set one up on the beach and just leave it alone and CEO approaches. It could be a lot of fun. Yeah, friends, we have a question from online. And that was Do you ever use a camouflage cover on your lens on? Ah, no, I do not. Um, I've often wondered why people do that so much because, um, it it may be useful in situations. Very. You're working bit very shy, Bert. But then you have to calm a flaws yourself totally. But the idea of camouflaging your lens and your tripod legs I don't believe in that town. I believe mawr in being attuned to the birds in front of you and letting the birds tell you better. You're getting too close and you adapt your behavior accordingly. I like to I prefer to give myself away than to hide myself. The the image that you had with the camera mounted on the railing with a car. Did you have, like, a remote trigger on that? We're out tablet or Simpson s. So the question is, did I use a remote release in order to reduce the camera shake or of overs your question. Johan, you had two cameras set up young. One was on top of the car, huh? Ok, Uh, yes. Thank you for asking that you had It. Looks a little odd, right? To see that camera there on the river in a stationary position we were looking at at Bert. And there was actually devastate a uh yeah, there was an opening in the roof of the car so I could go very quickly from between the doot. The two different perspectives. Yeah. So we were stationary. Now we wouldn't drive along like that. Not that better rig like that on the roof. So we have a question from our win. Karp, who attended one of your workshops in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago. Any says any suggestions for approaching shorebirds on an open beach Other than laying down on a mat? Um, good question. I love shorebirds and show shorebirds, like most birds are very habitual. So they move it the tights and I've I would keep that in mind, and that is actually that was behind my strategy When I showed you that technique of lying down on the open beach because what I would do is I would take a position as the tight was coming in, and then I wouldn't have to move. And as the sandal ings were getting pushed up the beach by the advancing tight David come closer and closer to me. So I would just watch the behavior of the birds and let them tell you what you can do. The central ings with alternate between feeding. And then they would go to places for David rest during the high tight. And if you pay attention to where they go during high tight, you'll find, but they like to be. And then the next time, perhaps you can put yourself in a position very blind or out in the open. Great. Yes, please. Do you ever shoot from small boats? And if you do, what sort of equipment do you use? Ah, do I work from small boat? Yes, I do. From time to time. And then ah, different set of accessories comes into play. Obviously. Ah, car door mount doesn't apply on small boats. Try parts. Not so good. Monta pots are the answer and Monta parts are very useful when you're kayaking, for instance, which I will do next week. Are there other uses for Monta pods and bird photography? Yes, there are glad you brought that up because that's one other tool that you can apply venue operating from a vehicle, especially when there's mawr of you in the car, because you know the wiggle factor, especially if there's two people in the back seat and you're in the front seat of vice versa. So if you really careful, you can plant Amman upon outside the car and operated from inside a vehicle, and then you reduce that wiggle factor very useful in Africa.

Ratings and Reviews

Carl Bergstrom
 

I was privileged to be in the studio audience for Frans Lanting's Art of Photographing Birds course, and it was amazing. The morning was a perfectly pitched lesson on the technical aspects of bird photography, intermixed with Frans's own photographs and excellent videos of him working in the field. The afternoon focused more on bird behavior, composition, and artistry, and was even more delightful. If you know Lanting's photography you already know about his ability to find unusual perspectives on the world. What really shone through in the class was his love for wildlife and especially for birds. His knowledge of natural history is as amazing as his photography, and I loved the message that to take great photographs of birds, one needs to understand them and their behaviors. I've admired Lanting as a photographer for decades. Today I learned that he is an equally talented teacher. I'll be purchasing all of his CreativeLive courses. Thank you, Carl Bergstrom

Marie Gessle
 

Amazing class! Mr Lanting is charming and full of knowledge about birds and of course photography. In every moment of this course you can see his great passion and love for these flying creatures. The course is full of tips for photographers who want to start capturing moments of birds life. Awesome!!!

André Audet
 

Great class, very inspiring. Packed with great tips and beautiful imagery. Frans is a great instructor. I enjoyed watching this class a lot, and will watch it again!

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