For those of us that look forward to winter birding season, okay or any birding season, I thought that I would give you some tips to make your shooting a little more productive and fun.
Before you get to your location set you lens on infinity. As most of your subjects will be either at or close to the infinity setting there is no reason in having your lens focused on 5 feet and then expect it to focus in a split second. Many times I will leave my lens on infinity and manual focus as I know that many of my bird subjects will be at that distance.
Set your ISO to a higher setting. Don’t try to shoot a moving subject with a low ISO as most times you will be getting blurry images, better to get a sharp image and a little grainy, than a blurry image without grain. With newer cameras 1600 is actually pretty grain free and even 3200 is not hat bad.
If you are using a big lens, 300mm or above, then try shooting in Shutter Priority with the shutter speed above the lens maximum MM’s. (300mmlens use at least 1/300 of a second. Or another thing to try is to use Aperture Priority and set your lens one or two stops slower than your lenses best aperture (If you have a lens that is a F4 then shoot at F5.6 or F8). Each will give different results and only by trying will you find which one works for your style of photography. Also you can try using auto ISO in manual mode, I have seen some cool shots doing this.
Be patient, some days will be very productive and others will be a wash so take it one day at a time.
Get comfortable for shooting. This is not a survival test. The other day I was sitting on the ground on top of a thick sleeping bag with a heavy winter coat on and was nice and warm. I could have shot for several more hours but ran out of light.