Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat: 5 Bird Photography Lessons (From A Non-Bird Photographer’s Perspective)
Baras Bird Sanctuary serves as cage-free environment to a myriad of wild bird species. The park located on the outskirts of Tacurong City, currently the only city in Sultan Kudarat, serves as an avenue for nature-lovers to get an up-close encounter with birds such as herons and egrets freely roaming around without any threats of danger. Many can be spotted with a few meters radius which makes the location ideal to practice bird photography especially for beginners. This was my first time to try this discipline. I listed down some few pointers I realized during this shoot. I hope you may find them helpful, not only in taking pictures of birds, but in photography in general.
Egrets and herons may not fall under the rarest of the rare species category, but the stupendous number of these wild birds overwhelming skies and treetops is a spectacle we don’t see on a regular basis. Nothing but the melodic festival of chirps and screeches that resonates within this woodlands is an ambient sound we don’t hear everyday. So let’s put our cameras aside first, and cherish this rare encounter with our feathered friends.
The unpredictable behavior of wild birds makes these avian creatures challenging as a subject (especially if its your first time just like me) Observing them, however, reveals an abstract pattern -we can see where they usually flock, where they usually rest and what they do, where they fly from, fly by or fly to. From these assumptions, we could, more or less, predict where to frame or when to click the shutter button.
3. No Gear, No Problem
This special genre of photography requires special lenses if you want to fill the frame with a striking tight shot of an egret with all those fine sharp details on its eyes and feathers – a special lens such as a 500mm f/5.6 lens (which is certainly out of my budget range). Perhaps a 200mm could do the job. This is where the megapixels of the camera body comes handy – cropping. Another option that could compensate the lack of focal length leads me to #4.
Instead of focusing on the big guns, let’s rely more on what we know about photography. We obviously can’t get close ups, but we could certainly dwell on the egret and its environment. We use the surroundings to complement the subject. We could use the light that strikes into the foliage to give the heron a pseudo-spotlight. We could use the wonderful colors of the golden hour to give the flock in flight a pleasant background. We could use the angle of light to create volume on our subject. We could pick a nice vantage point. With #2, we know where to frame and when to fire away.
We may not have the advantage of having the best gear, but we have abundant of options based on what we know about photography in general. This exercise could also teach us to trust our skill rather than our gear.
Not even trying to take photographs is much worse than going home with mediocre or unpleasant pictures. Bird photography is certainly one of the most challenging genres that it needs to be classified under its own. But we also know that when we were starting photography, everything was a challenge. So try, at least. If all else fails, we could always resort to #1, right?
1. Directions to Baras Bird Sanctuary: If you’re coming from Isulan, take a multicab to Tacurong City. Get off at Jollibee (which is beside the public market), and take tricycle to Baras Bird Sanctuary. It’s highly advisable to rent them during your visit as the park is not a regular thoroughfare among public vehicles. Chartered fare would costs around P150-P200 going there, and back.
2. Entrance fee to Baras Bird Sanctuary is P20.00, but donations to help maintain this beautiful place are also accepted.
3. Guides wouldn’t only tell you what kind of species but could certainly point out where the flocks would come from and where to shoot them (with a camera of course).
4. Best time to spot the birds would be in the morning and afternoon, sunrise and sunset, which is also the best time to shoot.
5. Avoid making too much noise.
6. Stay on the designated paths.
8. More destinations in Sultan Kudarat
9. Like Biyaherong Barat on Facebook.
10. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter
11. Be safe and happy travels.