Birds in Mumbai - II

Last Sunday, even though it wasn't raining much, it was cloudy with the sun playing hide and seek. The light was just about perfect for some Bird Watching and Bird Photography. In the afternoon when I went to our colony's garden, it seemed like it was lunch time for birds as most of them were out looking for food. There were a lot of Mynahs around and they moved about freely without being scared of the human intruder—me. Some of them were not afraid of coming as close as 2-3 feet from me. 

Among other birds there was a pair of Oriental Magpie Robin. Both of them found one large worm each for their meal. It's amazing how they can spot the prey hiding in the grass. 

There was also a Greater Coucal and Scaly Breasted Munia which I saw in our neighboring colony on the same day. The Red Whiskered Bulbuls and Common Tailorbirds are the regulars, they are always there but they look amazing and photograph really well. :-)

The Greater Coucal

Red Whiskered Bulbul
Oriental Magpie Robin (Female)

Oriental Magpie Robin (Male)

Red Whiskered Bulbul

Scaly Breasted Munia

Common Tailorbirds


  1. Really beautiful shots of the birds. You must be really quick and have good control over your camera to capture these images.

    Alex's World! -

  2. Fabulous photos. I really don't know how you do it, but you really are good at bird photography!

  3. Hi Kalpesh, I found your blog searching for photo samples of the canon SX50, I recently purchased that camera and I am just beginning in the photography, I have read some tutorials and bought some books to start learning. The pictures you show of the canon sx50 are really awesome, would you provide the settings for the pictures?... This past weekend I was on a "seed & plant" course and I practiced a little bit with the manual settings, but still it's all kind of blury to me, but yet I managed to get very nice pics, but nothing like yours... Your pics of the dragonfly are amazing, what settings you use to focus on the animal (dragonfly, birds, etc) and unfocus the background so much?... I would like to use the same settings for Portraits.

    Thank you very much, I am a new fan of your blog, have saved it to check it everyday.

    Have a nice day,


    1. Thanks Erika.

      Canon Powershot SX50HS has a very good macro. I usually shoot in the shutter priority mode as I feel it helps me adjust the exposure very quickly. Also at the maximum focal length i.e. at the maximum zoom, the aperture is limited so can't play around much in the aperture priority mode.

      I usually go out for shooting bugs & birds in the evening about 3 hours before sunset or in the morning after sunrise with the sun behind me and sunlight falling directly on the subject. This allows me to set the shutter speed to around 1/1000 and even higher. You must be aware that at maximum zoom, despite the image stablization system that Canon Powershot SX50 HS has, the photos can be a bit shaky if you don't hold the camera very still. This is where the high shutter speed helps.

      I set the ISO limited to around 400 usually but in lower light conditions I raise it to around 600. Going beyond ISO 600 results in noise for sure even in good light conditions.

      In the menu you will find a setting - AF FRAME - Set this to Tracking AF.

      When in shooting mode, if you click on the center button i.e. function set you will see the exposure metering option, select spot metering. This works the best for me.

      You can save your settings to CUSTOM 1 or Custom 2 so that the next time you go out to shoot you need to only set the dial to C1 or C2. For more details on this you can refer to the tutoral seen here on youtube - How to set custom settings on Canon SX50 HS.

      To summarize the above:

      Shooting time:
      Early moring or Early Evening with sun behind you and light falling on the subject directly.

      Shooting mode:
      Shutter Priority

      Ideal - ISO400 | Maximum - ISO600. If you find it difficult to understand ths then let the ISO be on Auto and let the camer decide.

      Shutter Speed:
      1/1000 or more. You may take trial shots and see what exposure works the best in the given light conditions.

      Exposure Metering:
      Spot Metering

      AF Frame:
      Tracking AF. You may also try flexizone and see if it works for you. Select either of these.

      When I shot the photos of dragonfly, I was about a meter and half away from the subject.
      To get that blurry background, from the above mentioned distance, go full zoom on the subject and half-press the shutter to gain focus. Usually focus on the eyes of the subject frame your shot and then press the full shutter. This approach should give you the result.

      Do try this and let me know if it works for you.

      Happy Shooting :-)

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    2. 2nd Part of your query:
      To get portraits with blurred backgrounds you really would need a DSLR :-)

      However there is a tweak possible to shoot portraits with blurred background. But that isn't really very practical. You will have to stay very far from the subject and then use the max zoom to focus on your subject and compose your photo. You will notice that the the more you zoom and focus on your subject the more blurred will be the background. You can see some samples here. I had captured some photos of my kid from far to achieve the blur background effect.



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