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Capturing Kingfisher - What, How, When and Where

By Nelson Khor

Just sharing my experience on " capturing kingfisher " on a lovely perch, clear background and sweet light with food. It may not happen in one day but with this right approach or tip, it will be possible to get the picture you always wanted.

Below is the " 4W " (WHAT, HOW, WHEN and WHERE) which I applied for photographing Kingfisher.

1. Camouflage Tent ( Not necessary to be camouflage but must not be colorful or in white color )
2. Small chair ( For own comfort, because you might need half a day inside the camp )
3. Long Lens with Camera ( A focal length of 500mm is more that enough. In my situation, it is Canon 500mm + 1.4x )
4, Wire release for Camera ( To get a sharpner image and action shots )
5, Water and food ( Optional but I found it necessary. While waiting for the Kingfisher, I can enjoy my food and drink)

Camouflage Tent with Chair

Camera + 500mm + 1.4TC and cable release

1. Sun light direction, as show in the picture, prefer the light is from the back, so the bird's eyes will have the ' catch light ' without using flash (Refer to drawn orange color line)
2. Prefer 25 feet to 30 feet, this is base on 500mm + 1.4x. Don't go for too full a frame, may miss out some action shots. (Refer to drawn purple color line)
3. By placing the tripod same height as the perch to get an eye level shot.
4. Finding the background with a single color or without white spot or in bright color. In this case water has the reflection from mangrove trees in the early morning light. (Refer to drawn green color line or picture four)
5. Lovely perch is possible to setup, this case I use the perch as original as those that was already present. If you are setting the perch, the best choice is a branch that is not reflective or white color. (Refer to drawn yellow color line)
6. The Kingfisher (Refer to drawn yellow color line)

Illustration of the entire setup


1. Best is one hour before sunrise, you have to hide before the the light comes up. ( It is also possible in late afternoon too ... )
2. I prefer low tide because there are more small fishes which the kingfishers enjoy. This is different as in the case of fishermen because high tide bring more larger fishes.

Realised this is the most difficult part, because the lovely place you want might not be the place that Kingfishers prefer. In this situation, I made an observation of several locations where the Kingfishers perfer but decide to choose the location that is favourable to the me as well as the Kingfishers.

After having the "4W", the following will be the schedule: Plan > Do > Action and wait......

Here are the results from my experience, enjoy ....

The End