Bird Photography – Wing Position

Eagle Photo by Scott Bourne In this photo, the eagle's wings are up.

(Photos made with Olympus Micro Four Thirds Camera)

This is a short post meant to demonstrate something I teach all the time.

Here goes – the best wing position for a bird in flight is ANY position other than PANCAKE – meaning the wings go straight across.

Why? Because nobody buys the shots with the bird’s pancaked wings. At least not many people do – I rarely sell images with the wings in this position.

I am using two eagle photos in this post to illustrate my point.

Eagle Photo by Scott Bourne
In this photo, the eagle’s wings are nearly straight out in pancake position.

In the first photo, the eagle’s wings are outstretched in what I call the pancake position – straight out. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE this photo. I love everything about it – except – I have never licensed it. The one I have licensed was made at the same place and I think on the same day.

Eagle Photo by Scott Bourne
In this photo, the eagle’s wings are up.

I realize that for most of you, the sheer thrill of photographing an eagle and capturing ANY wing position is just thrill enough. Unfortunately, I have expensive taste so I have to get paid for mine 🙂

There are rare exceptions to this rule but I share this post with one simple goal in mind. If you have a bird that you captured in a nice burst sequence and are trying to cull your images, select the pictures where the bird’s wings are up or down but not flat, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

I hope this helps.


PictureMethods has partnered with B&H Photo & Video to bring you the best gear selection and prices. Check for the best camera deals here.