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Learn the key skills to photograph birds from the comfort of your own back garden.
Tags:How to photograph garden birds,photographing animals,andy langley,animal photography,chris gomersall,garden photography,go wild tv,how to photograph birds,photography tutorials,wildlife photography
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Well the best place to practice bird photography is here in my garden, quite often the birds used to people and you don’t need any specialist equipment like heights and big lenses. Today I’m going to try my hands with Robins. Props I’m going to be using today is just a garden fork and a watering can, and first of all I’m going to walk over here and turn over a bit of soil in the heap of earth, bringing up a few invertebrates; so I’m just going to place this fork in here, the bit of an angle, this might act as the prey’s perch. My goal today is to get a simple portrait of a Robin, put it in obvious garden setting hopefully perched on this watering can. Below we didn’t touch the hovering national bird, Robin’s probably the classiest thing we have to it, favorite foods are worms and invertebrates and live mealworms are ideal for bating them in. For garden birds any lens and arranged in 100mm-400mm is going to be pretty worthwhile, the lens I’m using today is a 200-40mm zoom and I’m aiming to use it quite open at f4 to give me a nice soft hazy background, as long as the shutter speed is better than about 1/250th of a second, I’ll stop any head movements on the bird, so I can afford to use quite a low ISO setting 100. I’m now refining this shot by taking in much lower camera angle that’s because camera viewpoint has such a huge impact on backgrounds and you might other need to move a meter or two to try the side or up and down, so make a huge change. And the garden setting’s ideal for learning about lens, taking advantage of compliant subjects, we know pretty well where birds come to be and we can move the camera around to get the best times of a situation and prove our compositions enormously. And now just disguise the front of the camera with this scrim, and which cheats in the shade of the kitchen a little more, and already one of the birds are coming a bit closer. So we’ve got Robins coming and feeding on the ground around the watering can but I’m not yet using these high perches and I want to try with the female worms in this tray to catch them up on the top. Okay, releasing the lights a bit now, so I just introduce some daylight bounce still flash, catch a bit of lights in the foreground, just using the TTL low tech setting and usually I compensate that with minus 2/3 of minus 1 stop to give it a more natural look, not too flashy. Okay, since I’ve gone pretty much as planned and the Robins are coming and taking the meal worms from the tray, but the final hurdle is to make that base invisible. And let’s try this shallow plastic tray and put a few mealworms in and float it on top of the water so that its after vision from the camera lens, I can hear Robins singing already. Okay, it looks just to make that contact go all with it, you hear that soft contact slip cold before I come in and see. I’m really happy with what we manage to achieve today in just a few hours, especially since like I haven’t actually done any of this kind of bating to for 4 or 5 years at least in my own garden, so these birds that we’re looking out today are probably not the same individuals as I’ve managed to habituate last time I tried it. Here’s an early shot of a female Blackbird against the soil and really not very successful, it doesn’t show while it’s little, so this is already Robins starting to feed around the base of the watering can. But I’m not very keen on the lighting and the rather bland background of the patio; it’s starting to get much better now with the bit of the flower boarder in the background, but it’s still rather a cluttered image. Now this is where it’s really all come together after just 3 or 4 hours, the bird’s perching just where we want him on the watering can. If I have chance to pre-visualize this composition so I know that I want to know bright shots and know just how the background’s going to look that I’d need just the right amount of fill flash to make it ideal. And the birds even inclined its heads looking for food and reflecting a bit of sunlight in the eye, so that just adds a little bit more life to it. And so good result in a quite short space and time, and the great thing about garden birds is that they are guarding through on your doorsteps so you’ve got every opportunity to go and repeat and once you’ve got them habituated, be more creative, try and experiment with new ideas and that would props go on from here and maybe try wide angle lenses find on the remote cable or something like that, so you can really get into the character of your subject and just be adventurous.