Bird Photography Pro Interview: Russell Cronberg

Expert Bird Photography Tips

Photo Tips from the Experts: Russell Cronberg

Photo Tips From Russell CronbergExpert Photographer Russell Cronberg shares his favorite photo tips to help you capture those picture-perfect moments.
Expert Photographer Russell Cronberg shares his favorite photo tips to help you capture those picture-perfect moments.

When I was just starting out, my dad shared some great tips with me. Of course, over the years I’ve modified some of the camera settings to fit my style, but Dad’s tips are still great for a beginner.

  • Experiencing aperture anxiety? Shoot in aperture priority mode and if possible, set your aperture value to f8.0. This provides a nice all-around depth of field for most shooting situations. Of course, if the light is low, don’t be afraid to “open things up.”
  • When in doubt, shoot at 400 ISO. This is a great all-around ISO for most lighting situations since it provides a fast enough shutter speed for a variety of shots.
  • Trying for an action shot? If it’s available on your camera, use the single autofocus point and set it to the middle of your view finder. This will allow you the best chance to focus on a moving bird.
  • If using a tripod is cumbersome or impractical, try experimenting with a monopod. It provides more stability than hand-holding your camera with less bulk and bother than a full tripod.
  • Improve your timing by anticipating action. It’s amazing how predictable birds are when you take the time to study how they react. Learn the common “tells” as to when a bird is about to fly away or move, and you’ll be surprised how a little “bird psychology” can improve your bird photography!
  • Always, always shoot in the best light possible. It still surprises me how many novice photographers either don’t realize this or don’t give it the credit it deserves. Typically the best light is right after sunrise or right before sunset. Just look at wildlife photography in magazines and you’ll notice that every single image was shot in near-perfect light. It’s one of the main reasons why that image was published!
  • Live the Boy Scout motto “be prepared.” Have your camera fully set-up and ready to shoot before you arrive at your destination. I can’t tell you how many fantastic shots I got, or missed, by following or ignoring this simple rule.

Photo Tips from Russell Cronbert

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.