Thijs Valkenburg

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2017


This month’s Picture Perfect photographer is the Dutch ornithologist Thijs Valkenburg (29), who got into photography about 10 years ago. “I realised that only watching birds wasn’t enough; I wanted to document the moments and the species I was seeing.”

Working at RIAS in Olhão, Thijs specialises in bird photography: “As an ornithologist it was very important to provide my studies with good pictures of birds and their behaviours. It also fascinates me that every picture is different: the light, habitats and behaviours are always changing, which makes it challenging to take a good picture of a bird.”

Thijs on photography in the Algarve: “The Algarve is a mosaic of habitats; high hills and freshwater lagoons are only a few kilometres apart. It´s also a very important place for birds on migration, you can easily see 100 species in two days birdwatching here. All these factors make the Algarve excellent for bird and wildlife photography. The place that really stands out for this is the Ria Formosa Natural Park. There you’ll find pinewoods, freshwater lagoons, saltpans and marshes that are amazing in diversity of bird species; you’ll get great opportunities that will be hard to get in other places.”


Bird photography:

This month’s Picture Perfect shows a black-winged stilt in the salt pans of Olhão. It was taken on a Canon 7D camera with a Canon 400mm lens. Settings: f5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO: 250. Like this pic? See more on Thijs’ Flickr page.

Want to try and make a perfect picture like this one as well? Here are Thijs’ top three tips:

  1. Learn how birds behave. The big problem about photographing birds is that they fly away and often hide in the vegetation, so one of the most important things is to understand their habits. This allows you to can anticipate their movements and approach them easier without spooking them. A big zoom lens is almost obligatory; less than 400mm usually isn’t enough.
  2. Try to take your pictures at the same level as the birds. This means lying down quite a lot. The use of hides makes your job easier; place your hide at a drinking or eating place, always with the sun in your back. The best time is morning and afternoon when birds are more active and the light is better.
  3. Use aperture mode. Photographing birds when they’re flying is really hard, don´t use manual mode or manual focusing! With aperture mode, you only have to change the focusing depth (F value). Also important is your shutter speed; less than 1/800 will not do the job, 1/1500 or higher is ideal to freeze a flying bird.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2017

Posted in Picture Perfect.