KingBirder Photographer Spot Light

Welcome to our latest feature, KingBirder Photographer Spot Light!  We will be profiling some of our top contestants from our previous contests.  Every other week we'll be profiling a new photographer! KingBirder has submitted a series of questions for each person to answer. 

Our newest KingBirder Photographer "Spot Light" is focused on Mateusz Piesiak from Poland.  Mateusz has participated in all of our contests to date.  He won Second Prize in our inaugural contest, "Everybody Duck!".  He also won Third Prize in the "It's a Shore Thing" contest.  We appreciate Mateusz's participation and always look forward to his entries! 

Mateusz Piesiak

KB:  Why photograph birds?

Mateusz:  Tough question. Probably because there is such a large variety of species, and each has its own habits and you need to figure out a different way to photograph it.

KB:  Do you have a “dream bird” that you would like to capture?

Mateusz:  I'd love to photograph Great Grey Owl one day!

KB:  What is the camera set up that you use most frequently in the field?

Mateusz:  Canon 1DX II + 400/2.8

KB:  Do you prefer any particular weather conditions or background settings?

Mateusz:  I love to photograph on foggy or snowy days. The light is really interesting then and creates a moody atmosphere. I also often photograph in back light when the sun is rising or setting in the background. That allows me to create more artistic images.

KB:  What advice would you give to people just starting in bird photography?

Mateusz:  Here are my few tips: Explore your knowledge about birds. The better your prepare, the greater chance for a good photo. Be patient. Perspective is key - try to get as low as possible. And don't be afraid of getting dirty and wet.

KB:  How often to you enter bird photography contests?

Mateusz:  There are only a few strict bird photography contests, so I'd say a couple in the year.

KB:  What do you like about the KingBirder contests? 

Mateusz:  In KingBirder contests I like the challenging aspect of them. The precise categories not only require taking a good photo of a bird, but also finding the right species, that would suit contest theme. 

Nikki Nobles

Next up in the KingBirder "Spot Light" is Nikki Nobles.  Nikki just won Second Prize in the KingBirder "Water World" contest, congrats again!  She also has participated in all four KingBirder contests so far and we are very grateful.  Nikki hails from Pennsylvania and consistently captures fantastic images of birds!  

KB:  Why photograph birds?

Nikki:  One of my favorite things about bird photography is the variety in species. Due to the migration patterns of many birds, different seasons bring new opportunities. This variety keeps it interesting, and based on the habitat needs of each species, it also offers different types of physical challenges for me throughout the year.

KB:  Do you have a “dream bird” that you would like to capture?

Nikki:  The Atlantic Puffin is the bird that is currently at the top of that list!

KB:  What is the camera set up that you use most frequently in the field?

Nikki:  Recently, I started using the Nikon D850 which I absolutely love. I typically have it paired with the 500mm f/4 G lens.

KB:  Do you prefer any particular weather conditions or background settings?

Nikki:  I am actually a big fan of winter weather for my photography. I’m really drawn to high key images, and I feel that the snow combined with often overcast sky gives me that feel.

KB:  What advice would you give to people just starting in bird photography?

Nikki:  Definitely get some help or feedback from experienced photographers. That’s the biggest thing! I know when starting out and even continuing throughout the photography journey, it can be hard to honestly analyze our work. There are numerous opportunities out there to connect with more experienced photographers through workshop participation, mentorships, photography clubs, etc. Another big thing early on is learning to scout. It’s not just about looking for birds, but it’s also learning to look for lighting conditions and the background that will make a shot really work.

The last thing is to keep experimenting and keep having fun with it!

KB:  How often to you enter bird photography contests?

Nikki:  The inaugural Kingbirder contest last year was actually one of the first I ever entered, so I am still a bit new to contests with only a handful of entries so far.

KB:  What do you like about the KingBirder contests? 

Nikki:  The themes, combined with the time frame of the contests, really inspires me to get as creative as I can with a target species. It’s also helped to nudge me into new directions, such as donning winter waders and hopping in the water when it’s freezing out. That isn’t something I would’ve thought I would be doing in my lifetime, but I am doing it and really enjoying it!

KB:  What are some of your goals for the year?

Nikki:  I am really working on creativity in the field this year. There are so many ways to experiment with back-light, small in frame, high key/low key, slow shutter, etc.  I am challenging myself each time I get out to see these opportunities.

Khaldoon Aldway

Our first "Spot Light" is on Khaldoon Aldway, who resides in Dubai.  Khaldoon is fresh off his First Place finish in our latest contest, "Water World".  Khaldoon has participated in all of our contests to date, thank you! 

KB:  Why photograph birds?

Khaldoon:  Birds are such amazing creatures. I am fascinated with their beauty, colors, patterns, behaviors and the diversity of birds’ species we have on our planet.

My spark bird is a pigeon, I was amazed when I froze the wings of a pigeon while taking off. I love the patterns as well as its shape. And I would like to mention that owls are my favorite birds to photograph.

 

KB:  Do you have a “dream bird” that you would like to capture?

Khaldoon:  I don’t have only one dream bird. But I can say the top of my list: The Great Philippine Eagle, Flame bowerbird (male) and Greater lophorina (male),

 

KB:  What is the camera set up that you use most frequently in the field?

Khaldoon:  90% of the time, I am using my trusty Nikon D500 and NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, handheld,

manual / Shutter priority mode, Back-button focus.

 

KB:  Do you prefer any particular weather conditions or background settings?

Khaldoon:  I do prefer overcast days. That gives me the chance to create soft dreamy looking images with an amazing detail, and to spend more time in the field.

 

KB:  What advice would you give to people just starting in bird photography?

Khaldoon:  First and last advice “Just keep shooting”. Push yourself to go out in nature explore, learn and create. Start with your backyard, you will be amazed with what you can find out there.

Second, learn and observe your subject's behavior. This is a very important factor that will make you able to create fabulous and unique images.

Master your gear and don’t be overwhelmed with what is happening in the camera industry. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get an award-winning image. YES, the gear is important. But not as important as your knowledge in subject behavior, perseverance, and off course Luck.

 

KB:  How often do you enter bird photography contests?

Khaldoon:  Actually, I started entering birds’ contests from a year or so. I submitted my bird’s images so far for two birds contests only, and one of them for sure King Birder.

  

KB:  What do you like about the KingBirder contests?

Khaldoon:  The most important point for me why I like king birder contest is because they are supporting conservation, and that adds value to our works as nature photographers.

And addition to that King Birder contest push the limits of your skills as birder and photographer, to capture the images during a certain period of time with a specific theme.