Wild Bird Photography – Oriental Skylark

One of the most uncommon but conspicuous birds out there in the field is the Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula). Conspicuous, in the sense that when it gets excited, it would stand tall and proud with its crest raised despite its minute size,  and would give a very loud distinct shrill. However, you often get to see these birds in photographically boring dry open fields as this species does not perch on bushes or trees. With these circumstances, shooting the bird at an angle higher than its eye level, you will get the boring ground as its backdrop (as shown below).

In the few times I have encountered this species, I would often wish to capture it on camera properly. What I intend to have is to get a creamy bokeh/background. To do this, you can’t shoot from an elevated angle (as shown above), unless the bird is on an edge of an elevated mass that would eliminate the ground as the backdrop or would make the ground far enough not to be included in your thin depth of field. Instead, you need to be down on all four. This means you need to be on a prone position to achieve the effect (as shown below). This enables you to avoid shooting the ground as the bird’s backdrop.


Shooting the bird on the ground on a prone position gives one an eye level shot with both the foreground and background seem to merge and melt leaving the subject greatly emphasized. Below is a sample of this effect.

Shooting Disclosure

  • Gears:
    Canon 50D, EF 400mm f5.6L, 2-Pound Rice Bag
  • Settings:
    Shot @ f5.6, 1/640″, ISO320, Spot Metering, Auto White Balance, Aperture Priority, Cropped 16:9 to 3.6MP, RAW, Handheld, Prone Position
  • Lighting
    8:36am Light, Overcast
  • Others:
    Some very minimal sharpening and color vibrancy adjustments in Photoshop

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