Sunrise Birding Photography

Like most mornings, I was in my car driving to my first birding location before the sun rose over the horizon. Aside from the fact that birds are most active in the morning when they are busy finding breakfast, one can not stress to strongly if your goal is to capture some nice images, the Golden Hour is named such because the soft light of dawn dramatically enhances the type of photograph one may capture. Many birds have plumage which get “blown out” as the bright light of day progresses. Such is the case with each of this mornings subjects:

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Common Merganser

Their feathers have lots of grays, whites, and light blues which do not tend to photograph well later in the day. In addition, the rest of the scene often has nice colors which helps the end result. One drawback is it is very, very difficult to get high quality “motion” photos in the early light. I actually watched all three of today’s subjects catch fish, but it was impossible to have a fast enough shutter speed to capture the “act of the catch”! The final advantage of the time right after sunrise is one may often get closer to individual birds. If you sneak up with the sun directly behind you, the birds have difficulty seeing you given the low angle of the sun to the horizon.

Great Blue Heron Sunrise Photo Studies

Belted Kingfisher and Mountain Ash Berries

Common Merganser and its Serrated Mouth (good for holding onto fish)

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