Learn how to set up a pond for garden bird photography.
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Over the years always styling the garden’s very protective areas for bird photography, in the winter obviously we’ve got the feeding station which is great for the winter birds and in summer I tends to turn my attention to the garden pond so that you’ll all benefit to be able to photograph some of my grooms as well as the resident birds and obviously from the photographic point of view the pond is fantastic but also from a lot live point of view those all brings in amphibians, newts, frogs, sometimes toads as well in for the garden, as well as Dragonflies, so as a dual purpose and so is the great tradition to the garden to have a pond. The pond I’ve got here was purposely built for photography and as quite a few things that are bore in mind when I size in the pond itself, actually the main consideration really was the lighting and I situated it here so it’s ideal for early morning light and also it tends to coincide the best activity from a bird point of view. The other right important aspect of the course was the background and so again I positioned it so that I can shoot into a nice diffused out of focus background which is centered just along here. Right to my left here is the hide which I’ve got sized it’s just down of the banking and that allows me to get a lovely low level view across the top of the pond and get some really nice dynamic images of the birds as they come down to drink and to bathe; and the birds are getting here typically would be Willow Warblers which breed locally along with Swallows and House Martins, again which, I’m lucky enough they breed in the studding’s close by and they’ll come down and they collect the mud during the early spring period. The ponds also are great for capturing the rest of the birds which are here pretty much all year around as species like Blue Tips, Gray Tips, Song Thrush, Blackbird and the Finches as well and virtually all the Finches come down during the course of the summertime, that allows me to get different pictures of these common birds in unusual poses also bathing and drinking, I use in the water as the means to get reflections, so whole right into dynamic images are possible at the pond and during the summer months. One thing to bear in mind when building a pond and is something I did here was to make sure that the sides, particularly on the side that way you want to do the photography, a very shallow and it’s a very gradual slope into the water here and the depth of the water is brought to only 2 to 3 centimeters which is ideal for small birds to come in and bathe. I’ve set the tripod up here and nice on the low and that gives me a good eye contact with the bird, a good clean background and also more impact for the images as well. In terms of the lens I tend to use the 500 mm but equally, a zoom props is even better because you’ve got birds of different sizes coming down, so something like a 100 to 400 is perfect, it allows you to get the birds of size of a Blue Tip right through to brought to you even a Pheasant with that kind of lens. If you are using a prime lens like the 500 here, one way to allow you to alter the focal length is to use the teleconverters or the 1.4 or 2x converter; it also allows you to zoom in effectively for tight shots of for some of the smaller birds that may be visiting. Later I’d normally expose this type of shot as to use manual exposure and just take the reading off the grass which is fairly neutral and tone, and the reason for that is that the water itself can cause problems with exposure in terms of reflections, so it’s a safe or better trail than to take a manual reading from the grass. Then I’ll set that and use that pretty much extended during the colds of the morning’s photography. Because most of this photography involves action of some description, it’s desirable to have a fast shot to speed to arrest the movement, as I normally I’d want to shoot around a 1/500th of a second or even faster and to allow me to do that I’ll shoot fairly wide open, for this particular lens that means f4 or probably f5.6 and that’ll give me a nice high shot of speed to arrest the movements of the bird as it’s drinking or bathing and pretty much guarantee that I’ll get some nice shot of images. The traditional approach to all of the Photography going back 15 years was still a bit the mess, but things have moved on dramatically since then, we’re all caught here and looking for new approaches to photograph familiar species and the case in point is Swallows and House Martins which I’m very fortunate to have visiting my garden pond and that this is the ponds that are constructed specifically for bird photography and the next is the Swallows we’re using on the pond each spring to come down and collect the mud, I purposely created an area on the edge of the pond which was suitable for them and also it gave me a perfect position to photograph from quite a low level, and you can see on this first shot this low level approach, just a slight out of focus program nice out of photos background and a real stunting close up of the Swallow and with a beak full of mud. At this point it has really evolved couple of years obviously with the being in the garden able to observe the birds on a regular basis either from inside the hide or just from the kitchen work window, so I’m able to see what they’re up to and get a feel for a type of shot which I may be able to get with a bit of pre-planning. And that one shot that’s painted life this year was that I noticed that when the birds came down, they usually came down as a pair, and it was female that collected the mud whereas typically the male would perhaps decide to stand nearby and I put it in a perch just above the water and very quickly the male birds has stopped to use the perch as to sing from and so i adjusted my position and concentrated on getting that one shot of the male singing which you can see here, and again the technique was pretty much the same as the previous picture but the whole essence of the picture is quite different. And then finally as we call it the ultimate shot, really which shines after was to try and get shots of the Swallows obviously collecting mud but also to show reflections in the water of the pond, and so I was trying to do that so I engineered the situation where I have a very shallow water and mud’s acting to the middle of the pond and this allowed me to shoot right across the top of the water and then by a large if the Swallows came in the right position as I’ve deferred them after with the nice reflection; not all the way of perfect reflection as you can see here but some nevertheless it adds interest to the picture and you always get two for the price of one as it were. Constructing a garden pond specifically for photography is an ideal way to get a whole range of common garden species, of course you get shots of them drinking, bathing, and in this case we’re fortunate to get something a bit different with the Swallows collecting mud, so a whole host of opportunities and the great thing is you never know what you may get so it’s always an element of surprise and you come away with something different each time.