We Simplify The Technical!

Bird photographer Michael Milicia gives us tips for creating portraits of birds

with great background separation. Your bird photography will really stand out

if you listen to Michael’s advice! Michael also gives a great list of

recommended gear for bird photography.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Episode 174

Bird Photography Tips and Gear Recommendations
with Michael Milicia


“The best way to learn behaviors is to observe.  Birds are habitual.  If you see a behavior once, chances are you’re likely to see it again.”

Bird Portraits

Separate the subject from the background.

     – Look for situations that will give you this look – such as a bird perched in a tree with nothing behind it for a long distance.

     – A long lens makes it easier to isolate the subject.

     – Longer lenses also allow you to back up and decrease the angle of view with your subject – making it appear more at eye-level.

“No matter what lens you use, if the subject fills the same amount of space in the frame you get the same depth of field – the subject will be sharp.  Longer lenses give a creamier background with more blur and help with stronger separation.”


     – Most of the time you want the sun at your back.

     – A few degrees off direct front lighting gives more texture and detail.

     – Dramatic side or backlighting of your subject is best accomplished EARLY in the day.

Gear Recommendations

  • Canon 1DX Mark II – good noise reduction
  • Canon 500 mm and  Canon 600 mm
  • Extenders/Teleconverters – 1.4X , 2X – give a narrower angle of view and extend the length of the lens.
    – These should not be used to try to capture a subject that is 200 yards away.  At this point, there is too much atmosphere between you and your subject which causes distortion and loss of fine details.
  • Uniqball Gimbal Head – compact, stable, great for travel
  • Wimberley Gimbal Head – great for use on the beach or in other wet or muddy situations, it acts as a handle to carry your camera and tripod without having to touch your gear with wet or sandy hands.
  • NatureScapes Skimmer Ground Pod – allows you to stay low and push/slide your camera to another spot without having to stand up and disturb your subject.

Finding Michael





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Gear Recommendation
of the Week


Camera Strap Chest Harness

Adjustable, padded harness custom fits your body providing hands free use and balance for hours at a time. Very comfortable design and durability offers even weight distribution around your neck, back and shoulders reducing pain and discomfort. Great camera accessory for hiking and walking.





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