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My Three "P's" To Success

Bird photography can be extremely rewarding and gratifying. At the same time those of us who partake in it's adventures understand that it can be very hit and miss and frustrating.

After all we are dealing with natures wildlife.

I have what I consider the Three "P's" to improving your success and your outcomes that I find vital and important.

The Three "p's"

1. Be Prepared

Preparation is the first step to success. It begins before you even go out to shoot. Preparation involves first and foremost, your gear. Do you have what you need in hand and with you before you walk out the door or get out of your car?

Here is my checklist:

Camera Body

I always come fully equipped. This will usually involve a FX body and a DX body. In my case specifically I will have two FX bodies. A Nikon D5 for high frame rate and a D810 for high megapixels, those times when I get the time to shoot whatever it is I'm planning to shoot.


I generally shoot with my longest and fastest lens. At the same time I always come equipped with other lenses. Sometimes I'll even shoot with a zoom alongside of my big gun. This affords me some flexibility of filling the frame at times or backing off with a zoom for those action shots.


Batteries and are they charged. I never travel with less then 3 batteries for any one of my cameras. It's a sad thing to go out to shoot and then find yourself with an almost dead battery. I have reasoned, mostly due to hands on experience that most batteries tend to be at least halfway exhausted or more when I go out to shoot. Murphy's Law remember!

I have on numerous instances encountered a photographer who has arrived to a location with only one battery. I also must admit to forgetting my backup battery in the car. In my case it seems I repeat my lessons lol.


Another most important and significant member of the shooting team. Nothing worst then forgetting your card altogether. You can't record air lol. It's also a good practice to carry and extra card as well. Cards and batteries are the Top Two items for your camera gear.

Other Items:


Blue Tooth Speaker

Cleaning Cloth and Solution


Insect Repellant

Reading Glasses for some of us.

Tripod with head.

2. Be Persistant

Persistency is probably the number 1 quality that every wildlife photographer should possess. It's important because once again we are dealing with wildlife. Animals and birds don't wear watches. They don't have an appointment book and they don't know what timeliness is.

I have recently visited a specific site that I know of to photograph a particular bird. I have made at least 10 trips in the past 3 weeks and have only had two opportunities to photograph it. Today of all days that persistency paid off BIG TIME.

The object of my desire, an adult Mississippi Kite provided me with many varied poses at a very respectable perch.

Mississippi Kite in Flight

Nikon D500

Nikon 600mm f4 Lens

Focal Length: 900mm

Exposure: 1/4000 sec @ f4

ISO 1600

Mode: Manual

Mississippi Kite Stretching

Nikon D500

Nikon 600mm f4 Lens

Focal Length: 900mm

Exposure: 1/4000 @ f4

ISO 1250

Mode: Manual

Mississippi Kite Returning With Cicada

Nikon D500

Nikon 600mm f4 Lens

Focal Length: 900mm

Exposure: 1/4000 @ f4

ISO 1600

Mode: Manual

This is the result of being a persistent photographer. Yes I know there are those luck moments when you encounter wildlife. But also note that you encountered it because you either drive around looking for wildlife or you continuously revisit an area or areas hoping to encounter it. The result is not luck it's your persistent and endless drive to find it.

3. Be Patient

Patience is by far an extremely important quality. I once stood in the exact same spot for 5 hours photographing a Bald Eagle at a nest. I stood the entire time not moving, just simply waiting for something to happen.

Sitting in your car, in a blind, standing motionless at your tripod. These is what we have to do at times to get what we want. It can be boring and sometimes it even seems pointless. In the end your patience will be rewarded.

I hope you found this post helpful. I don't write this blog for myself lol. I do it to encourage and help others. I care about each of you and I truly care about the marvelous creatures the Lord has given us to admire, to love, to cherish and lastly in our case to photograph.

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