Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on Taking your own Photographs

Todays bird is a Shelduck chick, taken back in June, the same one that I've started painting in a different pose.
I thought it would be useful to let you in on a few of my tricks for taking photographs of garden birds.

I place feeders in locations surrounded by vegetation that the bird can perch on, as my aim is to avoid photographing on the feeder whenever possible. I want natural looking shots to use as reference material for future paintings. I do however try to ensure that they are never placed where cats can sneak up on the birds.

Once I've placed the feeder I try not to move it as the birds seem happier to visit familiar objects. I also keep them filled as I've found birds continue to visit as long as food is available.

I rub cheese and fat into the tree trunks as I've found this attracts Woodpeckers, and keeps them reasonably still while they peck at it.

I always provide water, Blackbirds in particular love to splash about in it.

If I had to give one tip to increase the chance of successfully photographing garden birds, it would be learn about their behaviour.

I've found that most species tend to have fairly predictable visiting patterns.
Long Tailed Tits tend to visit early and late afternoon, passing through quickly, they never stay longer than a few minutes.
The Woodpecker visits early afternoon and spends several minutes on one particular tree.
The Jay and Sparrowhawk visit early morning, the Jay tends to be on the ground but is very shy and hard to photograph. If the Sparrowhawk has caught a bird you can approach quite close while it's feeding, otherwise it just shoots through the garden.
The Blue, Great and Coal Tits are about all day often taking a seed or nut and perching on a branch to eat it.
So on and so on.

Oh and one other thing, you need an endless amount of patience and good humour when several Collies decide to tell you all about the one you're trying to sneak up on.


Katherine Tyrrell said...

I've seen Gayle's setup and it's really well organised. The camera is sat on the windowsill at the ready!

The collies are also enthusiastic bird watchers!

Dianne Mize said...

Thanks for these tips. One additional tip about patience is when the neighbor's cat decided bird watching is her favorite duty.

vivien said...

these are a stunning series of photos Gayle

at first glance this one looks as if he's wearing large furry Ugg boots :>)