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Garden safari photography project

Garden safari photography project - Who needs Africa when you have your own garden to explore!

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Category : Animals / Wildlife
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We're not expecting you to jump in a Jeep and head off on a half day expedition, well that's unless you have a garden you can do that in! But seriously, for those of you who are like us and don't have acres of land to play in, step out of the back-door with your camera in-hand and head off to explore the grass, hedges, trees, flowerbeds or even pots and window boxes you have.

Photo by Alison M (cattyal)
Photo by Alison M (cattyal).

Gear
Your standard zoom will get you close but a long macro lens of around 100mm will get you right in-between the leaves and foliage while keeping a safe distance. For birds a 70-300mm telephoto will give you frame-filling shots without having to be so close to your tiny subject that they fly away before you can even think about taking the photograph.

Technique
As you would on an African safari keep your eyes peeled and be quiet. A magnifying glass will help you see the tiniest of critters but don't forget about the bigger animals too. Garden birds and squirrels are just as interesting to photograph as the bugs and creepy crawlies. You just need to be a little further away. If you have it, some camouflage netting will keep you hidden or a simpler option is to remain in your house and shoot through a window or door.

Foliage makes a great background, especially if it's blurred so when you find your ladybird, snail or even slug use a shallow depth of field of around f/8 or f/5.6 to start. If your garden's blossoming get your tripod and camera set up near the flowerbeds. If there's little or no breeze you'll have a while to play with composition, shutter speeds and depth of field. If you feel like a challenge, do as photographer Zeb Andrews does and get two lenses (be careful what lenses you choose as not all couple well together), some macro-coupling rings or tape if you don't have these and mount them onto your camera. You need to put your first lens on as you normally would then fix the second one on backwards. By doing so you'll be able to get incredibly close to flower petals and create images bursting with colour. Another reason for sitting patiently next to your flowerbed is butterflies and bees. You stand a much higher chance of capturing one of these if you let them appear in your viewfinder rather than you chasing them round the garden.  If it's birds and squirrels you're after you can't pitch your deckchair quite as close. You need to be further away, telephoto lens at the ready watching patiently for a while. Then, once they're used to you start snapping. The longer focal length and a wider aperture will help you fill the frame and blur the background leaving the focus on your subject.


You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.

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