Exposure Issues
Plexiglas Issues
Getting Close-ups
Avoid Stressing the Birds
Camera Buying Advice



How to Photograph Birds in an Acrylic Aviary
by Vonda of

Photographing birds in an indoor acrylic (Plexiglas) aviary has its challenges. Although you do not have to concern yourself with the bars of a cage, you do have to contend with reflections and image degradation from the Plexiglas. In addition, an aviary is fixed, which means you frequently have to contend with the poor quality of indoor lighting, without the ability to move to a better location. Although our aviary includes two shop lights loaded with full spectrum bulbs (good quality light for keeping birds), it still does not measure up photographically with the quality of natural sunlight. Increasing the lighting in the room also increase the reflections in the Plexiglas, so this frequently is not an option. And remember, once you move your bird from a cage to an aviary and give them room to fly, they will do just that. A bird in a cage can't go anywhere. A bird in an aviary has flight at its disposal.

To get the best results when shooting birds, I recommend using your camera's manual (or semi-manual) settings, if it has them. Today, even many consumer level cameras (both digital and film), offer you at least some manual capabilities. If not, they may offer shooting modes that may provide you with some control over which settings are used.

About My Equipment

Almost all photos of my birds were taken with a Canon Digital Rebel (the exceptions that I know of are the pictures of Amelia and of the Society chicks, which were frame grabs from our digital camcorder). The Digital Rebel (aka, EOS 300D) is a Digital SLR. SLR stands for single lens reflex, but what it means to the lay person is that it uses swappable lenses. I use the 18-55 mm zoom lens that came with the camera kit, a 75-300 mm telezoom lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens (no zoom capability). The first two are inexpensive and low end lenses, and my pictures may suffer somewhat because of this. The last one is inexpensive but better quality than the zooms (f/1.4 would have been better). Although this camera takes very nice pictures, the photos on this site have been greatly reduced and compressed to allow for faster page loads.

About Me

I have recently developed a passion for photography and my birds have given me an excellent opportunity to practice the concepts that I've learned. I've read several books on the basics and frequent some good photography sites, such as and The Luminous Landscape. But much of my knowledge is book-knowledge, and photography is an art that requires practice, experience, and criticism, all of which I am lacking. Therefore, I am only an amateur - and a beginner amateur at that. Therefore, I ask that you forgive the flaws in my photographs - I hope to improve as time goes by - and that you take this article as a summary of my experience photographing birds in an indoor aviary setting.

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