How To:
Photograph Birds in the Desert

Tara Lemezis   Website

listen

Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

voices

Tim Neville, journalist

Tim Neville, journalist

“Oregon’s Owyhee reminds me a lot of Southern Utah’s red rock country… only dipped in fudge.”

watch

Discover Desert Pronghorn

Discover Desert Pronghorn

Cooper's hawk

Common nighthawk

Burrowing owl

Tara Lemezis   Website

  1. Get to know your subject and plan your scene.

    What do they eat? Where do they hangout? Do they prefer open habitat, rimrock, wetlands, juniper and sage, or tall, sleepy oak? Are they more active at dawn or dusk, what perches do they sing from and when? When you understand behavior, you’re more likely to capture something unique. Taking the time to connect and respect wildlife often rewards you with a glimpse into their lives and they stick around long enough for you to make a pretty photograph.

  2. Observe, be patient, and give wildlife space.

    Be a silent observer and remember that you are a guest in this space. When you’re quiet and unobtrusive, birds are generally curious enough to get a bit closer to you as they carry on about their business. Be patient and wait for the moment they move into great light or onto a natural perch. And always remember your ethics by giving wildlife space, especially during breeding and nesting season.

  3. Composition and lighting is everything.

    Include the landscape in your photos and stray from the “bird in a box” look. Plants, rocks, and the big sky make your image more interesting. And this is a photography 101 tip, but good lighting evokes mood. The high desert has many moods all day long; shoot in all of them, with a special focus on sunset in summer.


photographer

About the Author

Tara Lemezis (she/her) is a wildlife photographer based in Portland. She’s been photographing birds (and mammals, wildflowers and amphibians and reptiles, and kicking up dust in Oregon’s high desert since 2013. She’s drawn to this ecoregion for many reasons: the geologic wonder that is Steens Mountain, the seemingly endless sagebrush steppe, the Alvord Desert playa, stargazing into the darkest night skies you’ve ever seen, solitude, and the swaths of protected and public land along the Pacific Flyway, where over 320 bird species spend some part of their life cycle.

See Tara's Instagram

How To:
Photograph Birds in the Desert

ONDA is collecting submissions for our 2022 Wild Desert Calendar through June 12, 2021. Leading up to this deadline, we’ll share tips from a few of the photographers who have generously shared their work for this publication.  Author: Tara Lemezis  |  Published Date: May 3, 2021  |  Category: How-To    The variety of bird...

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