In “Creating Backyard Bird Photos Part 1” I talked about getting birds into your yard by creating a bird friendly yard. Now that the birds are showing up, how do you start creating great photos of them? I’m sure you’ve seen many photos of people feeding wild birds, such as Black-capped chickadees, by hand. While this is possible, it is not the norm. Most birds are very wary and fly away literally in less than a blink-of-an-eye.
Personally, I think “House Wren in the Blink of an Eye” is a pretty cool photo. But if you want to create photos like “American Goldfinch Perched in Tree” and “House Wren at Nest Box” (seen in my post “Creating Backyard Bird Photos Part 1”), the answer is to use a blind. You don’t have to stop reading and go spend hundreds of dollars to get one. Many times you don’t even need to build one. Birds generally don’t like to see the human form. The idea of a blind is to break up your silhouette so the birds don’t recognize you as a human.
So how do you create and use a blind? Unless you have a lot of property and don’t mind building or buying a permanent blind you need to get creative. I created “House Wren in the Blink of an Eye” and “American Goldfinch Perched in Tree” from my most expensive blind, but thankfully I didn’t have to build it. I was sitting in my dining room and created both photos from inside my house. Another great blind you probably already own is your car.
Of course it helps to have a nice long telephoto lens, but not everybody can afford one. A blind will you get closer and save you money. For many years the longest lens I owned was a 180mm macro lens. For”House Wren at Nest Box” I was standing in the low hanging branches in a tree next to the one where the box is mounted. The shepherd’s hook in”Black-capped Chickadee on a Shepherd’s Hook” was too far away from our house to keep the bird large enough in the frame to see it very well. I spent many hours, over several weeks, sitting still in a lawn chair, with camera at the ready and never got a good shot. I’m sure the neighbors thought I was a little strange when they saw what I setup to use as a blind. First, I setup the two wrought iron lawn chairs next to each other so I could use the arms to steady myself. Then I setup one of my light stands with a photo umbrella just above my head while sitting on the ground. Making sure I had a nice green background, I rested my arms on the two chairs and waited. It only took about ten minutes for the birds to forget all the commotion I made while setting up. A few minutes later and I had the photo I’d been try to create the whole time.
Thanks for visiting and reading my blog. If any of these tips help you out, I’d love to see your results.
~ Daniel Kmiecik
Next week: “Creating Backyard Bird Photos Part 3-Critters”