fuji s5 proBird pictures @ Singapore Jurong Bird Park

crowned crane at Jurong Bird Park

Bird photography, taking bird pictures, never interested me in the past - until I (re)visited the Singapore Jurong Bird Park recently.

Taking photographs of birds is no doubt challenging. Among other things, you need plenty of skills and luck, plus a good, long (ie costly) telephoto lens or zoom lens.

You might also need tremendous patience. Recently, there was an article in the Singapore newspapers about a lady photographer who recently published a book of her bird pictures.

She related one incident where she once spotted a rare bird across a stream, somewhere inside the MacRitchie Forest reserve.

So she crossed the stream - getting herself wet and frightening the bird off in the process - and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally about six hours later, the bird finally returned and she got her shot.

Would I do this? No way! What would I do during those six hours? Play Sudoku?

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A recent (re)visit to the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore, however, changed my entire attitude towards taking bird pictures.

I write "(re)visit" because I had been there before. The first time I went to Jurong Bird Park was in 1971, the year it opened. I was a 15-year-old teenager then and, as part of a teenage adventure, two friends and I walked there. It took us many, many hours.

My second trip to the Jurong Bird Park was sometime in the 1990s, when I played tourist guide to some friends from India. You see, I am not exactly a great fan of the place.

Then the other day (end July 2008) one of my photography buddies suggested we go shooting there. The thought of having to pay quite a hefty entrance fee - we found out it was $18 - made me hesitate. But okay, I decided to go along.

My first lot of bird pictures from that photography outing was so so. But this picture made me go back again:


shoe bill at Jurong bird park


This is a shoe bill. My friend had earlier remarked that it was "very ugly". I thought so too, but took just one shot just for the heck of it.

Later that evening, when I finished editing my photos, I decided to convert some of the colorful bird pictures into black and white, just to see how they looked.

Then I reminded this "ugly fella". I turned him to black and white, increased the contrast and cropped away some distracting leaves on the left of the image. And I went, WOW!

How evil and ugly he / she looks. Yet how powerful!

That got me fired up. I realised I could take a very special type of bird pictures - what I would call bird portraits, presenting close-up photographs of birds as one would present portraiture.

Actually, I had already thought of this, as seen from some other bird pictures from that first Jurong Bird Park outing, like this flamingo:


bird pictures - flamingo


And this pelican, showing the light coming through its beak:

bird pictures - pelican


And so, I went back to the Jurong Bird Park another two times - three times in slightly less than three weeks, compared with twice previously in 37 years!

On my third trip, I even decided to buy myself a one-year season pass. I thought the bird park, even though quite a long trip from my home, would be a nice place to relax and take some photographs of birds whenever I have a few hours to spare.

This may not be "real" bird photography that involves taking pictures of birds in the wild. But I can tell you, even in a bird park situation, where the birds might merely be walking rather than flying around, it can get quite challenging.

And, as the "Ugly fella" shows, the bird does not have to be all that beautiful in order to make a nice bird picture. Here's another not so pretty bird, whem I shall call "naked neck":


Jurong bird park


Plus, the same bird in another pose.


bird pictures naked neck


Normally, I try not to post more than one version of the same subject, but I feel this is interesting enough.

A yet more interesting pose comes from this bird, which was airing itself, probably drying its wings, after the rain on my third (re)visit to the Jurong Bird Park.

Somehow, this reminds me of the Jesus Christ crucified:


thaipusam 2008


So far, all the bird presented here are water fowls - birds that wade in water. I will present other species of birds in my next selection of bird pictures (click here).

This includes, of course, the bird in the main picture above, which is a crowned crane. As I mentioned, it rained during my third bird photography session at the bird park and, at one stage, the crowned crane was busily and frenziedly preening itself after the rain.

I just aimed my camera, with my zoom lens set at 300 mm - equivalent to 450 mm on my Fuji S4 Pro digital camera - and fired away.

I ended up with quite many good pictures of the crowned crane, of which the main pix here is the one that I am most proud of. It opened up yet another possibility for me - taking abstract bird pictures.

In case you wonder what the bird actually looks like, here is a bird portrait showing its face:


thaipusam 2008


I hope you enjoyed this gallery of bird photographs.

I have also made up a 2009 calendar of bird pictures which you can buy - along with individual prints - at Red Bubble, by clicking here.