It's more than just taking pretty pictures

Besides the satisfaction of taking great photographs, Mr Francis Yap also enjoys being out in nature, and the challenge of getting a close-up photo of the birds without using bait or recorded bird calls, or modifying the environment. Last December, M
Besides the satisfaction of taking great photographs, Mr Francis Yap also enjoys being out in nature, and the challenge of getting a close-up photo of the birds without using bait or recorded bird calls, or modifying the environment. Last December, Mr Yap's photo of a male crimson horned pheasant was lauded by magazine BirdingASIA as an example of ethical photography.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mr Francis Yap took 30 trips over two months last year to get a shot of this lanceolated warbler, which had stopped over in Punggol.
Mr Francis Yap took 30 trips over two months last year to get a shot of this lanceolated warbler, which had stopped over in Punggol.PHOTO: FRANCIS YAP

For Mr Francis Yap, 46, the joy of photographing birds lies in more than just getting great shots.

He also enjoys being out in nature, and the challenge of getting a close-up photo of the birds without using bait or recorded bird calls, or modifying the environment.

Last December, Mr Yap's photo of a male crimson horned pheasant was featured in BirdingASIA as an example of ethical photography.

The magazine had lauded his image as one that was taken "without any special aids, inducements or effects; his main tools were exceptional care and patience".

Mr Yap, who picked up the hobby in 2010, told The Sunday Times: "For me, there are stories to be told about the birds we see, and the photos that we take.

"A lot of my pictures are not worthy of publication, but I keep them because they remind me of the moment in the field."

Mr Yap, who works in the biomedical industry, recalled how it took him 30 trips over two months early last year to get a shot of a lanceolated warbler, a migratory bird which had stopped over in Punggol.

He said: "It is a bird that is hard to see when it is migrating, but easy to photograph during the breeding season in Japan, when it sings its heart out for a mate."

He struck the jackpot on his birthday last February, and finally got a shot of the elusive bird.

It was far from a perfect photo as the body of the bird was blocked by branches, Mr Yap said.

"But I'm happy - I tried very hard and I got the shot."

He shared some tips with The Sunday Times.

Look for fruiting trees: Fruits and flowers naturally attract a variety of colourful bird species, including fairy blue-birds, doves, green pigeons and bulbuls.

Explore: Instead of visiting birding hot spots, photographers can take a walk in their own backyard and discover treasures of their own.

Understanding the subject: This means learning things about a bird, such as its habitat or diet, or recognising the sound of its call.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'It's more than just taking pretty pictures'. Print Edition | Subscribe