Bird photography tips: how to shoot pin-sharp pictures of birds of prey

How to photograph birds in flight: practical advice for the non-tech obsessed

Once you've got some bird portraits in the bag, why not try your hand at a trickier area of bird photography: getting photos of birds in flight.

Like with action photography, flight shots take practice to get right, but they're worth the effort, and captive birds which will fly on command are perfect to practise on as you you'll get more than one chance to get it right.

Chat to the bird handler. They'll be able to tell you exactly what flight path your subject is going to take, and they'll know how factors like wind will affect the bird's chosen route.

Start by shooting as the bird comes into land or is just taking off, as they'll be moving more slowly; this will let you check you've got your camera settings right.

If you want to capture a bird face-on, stand directly in front of the handler before they call the bird to them, but watch your head!

Step-by-step how to photograph birds in flight

How to photograph birds in flight: step 1

Switch to continuous mode
Switch to continuous shooting mode. This will allow you to snap off a quick volley of shots as your subject glides past. You can look through your photographs properly once you're home and select the perfect shot.

How to photograph birds in flight: step 2

Stand downwind
Watching the bird's behaviour will help you figure out where to stand to get the perfect shot. Large birds like to take off into the wind, so make sure you stand downwind and you should get a decent shot of its head and wingspan as it glides towards you.

How to photograph birds in flight: step 3

Frame in advance
Composing photos of birds in flight can be tricky and takes patience. A good tip to begin with is to try framing the bird in your viewfinder so that it has space to fly into. By getting ready in advance, you're less likely to miss the moment when it fills the middle of the frame.