Living in the Birding Moment

When Photographings Birds Take Time Out to Enjoy the Bird’s Natural Habitat, and Remember to Breathe

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I just realized that I hold my breath when I’m photographing birds. 

It’s one of those things I keep going over in my mind, and I know I do it, but can’t stop.

And it explains why I feel like I’ve just run a marathon after spending several hours taking pictures of birds.

Art of the Great Bird Photo

I’d like to think holding my breath helps me get sharper images.

If I inhale or exhale too rapidly, I might miss the shot, or even worse, it might be blurry.

I read somewhere the art of taking a great photo is holding your breath.

The proper technique for photographing birds suggests breathing in and holding your breath before you release the shutter.

By holding your breath at the top of your breathing cycle, you prevent the chest movement caused by breathing.

So I have to sacrifice breathing for a photo.

Sacrifice doing something I need to do to live while taking a photo of another living thing.

After a while, holding my breath adds to the shakes.

Intense Pressure Photographing Birds

There’s so much pressure taking photos of birds.

Especially if I’m photographing rarities and lifers.

If I miss the shot, then it never happens because I have no proof.

It’s only in my mind.

And if I mess up the shot with the slightest movement and it’s not good enough quality for Instagram.

Then it’s just as bad as never seeing it.

There may not ever be a second chance.

Chipmunk tests Blue Jay’s patience as both species coexist on the tree stump

READ: Don’t Be a Bird Snob

Maybe I hold my breath because of the excitement about what I’m photographing.

I can’t explain it.

It’s got to be purely artist.

I’m a tortured artist.

Or maybe it’s a form of deep meditation.

So I have an idea.

Live in the Moment

Photographing birds is a competitive thrill, but I’m going to try living in the moment.

Watching and observing is so much better than worrying about photographic proof.

When I’m spending time lining up that perfect shot, I’m missing out on seeing beautiful birds in the wild.

If I can get a photo, then that’s a bonus.

Let’s all try living in the moment. You might be amazed at what you see.



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  1. Well said Renee. I just like watching them, trying to identify. Only have a cell phone cam anyway.

    • Glad you agree David. I like carrying my cell phone too because it’s a great tool for recording bird songs.

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