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myBlog » Blog Archive » How to Photograph a Kingfisher

How to Photograph a Kingfisher

During my last workshop in South Texas in Feb 2010, we noticed a Belted Kingfisher on the ranch pond.
We quickly did a set-up for this beautiful bird. The first thing we did was to set up a long perch in the water. I have found that Kingfishers prefer a perch in the water over one on the bank, because he will have a 360 degree view of the water. The height of the perch was set-up so that we had the distant bank as out background.
The next step was to build a cage to house minnows. This was built out of PVC pipe and fine mesh screening. A swimmers floatation tube was used to keep the rig afloat. This cage was to keep the minnows alive.
We also used a small childrens plastic swimming pool to float on top of the water. This was used on the days we were shooting. We would take some minnows from the deeper mesh cage and put them in the small plastic shallow pond.
We also changed out the perch each day for different looks.

Here’s a couple of images of the set-up.

All of the workshop participants managed to get great images of the Kingfisher. Below are some of those images.

I have a good feeling that this bird will be there when we return for workshops early in 2011. If you are interested in joining me, drop me a line and I’ll add you to the list.

Good shooting,


8 Responses to “How to Photograph a Kingfisher”

  1. Dominic Gendron Says:

    Very interesting and instructive! Thanks for sharing this set-up ;)

  2. Beverly Everson Says:

    Fantastic shots of the difficult-to-shoot Kingfisher!!! I love the first bird photo! Wonderful work!

  3. Colton Fischer Says:

    How did you put the perch in the water? Is it floating on a platform or does it have some weights attached to it to sink it? Did you just jam it into the ground :-) ?


    Colton Fischer
    Victoria, Texas

  4. Alan Says:

    Hey Colton, a metal fence post was first pounded into the pond bottom, the the perch was wired to that.

    Hope that helps,


  5. Zsolt PALANKAI Says:

    Hi Alan,
    Could you pls help me, how did you choose the exact place of the perch? I mean, you just noticed the kingfisher on the pond and took the perch to somewhere, or… ?
    Last but not least, let me congratulate for your efforts and work in nature photography.

  6. Alan Says:

    Hi Zsolt

    I first found a pond that had a Kingfisher hunting on it. I then placed the perch in the pond, so he would start using it. Hope that helps.


  7. Jason Says:

    Very interesting technique on how to photograph kingfishers. Can’t wait to try it!

  8. Pat Goltz Says:

    I certainly agree they are shy. I was able to photograph a male on two occasions, and both times, they were quite far away. I got your link from a kingfisher group on flickr. Thanks for the tips!

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