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Photographing garden birds

Birds are great photographic subjects and you don't have to travel far to get a few snaps of them.

| Stealth Gear One Man Wildlife Photography Hide in Animals / Wildlife
When you look out of your window at your garden you're really looking at a perfect photo location where your models, birds, are easy to spot and find. Now, don't grab your camera and dash outside straight away as the birds will be gone before you have time to turn the camera on. Instead, observe and plan your perfect shot.

Photographing garden birds: Photographing Garden Birds
Photo by Cheryl Surry.

You need to really know your camera – searching for buttons and messing around with settings when you only have seconds to take a shot isn't practical. You'll also need a telephoto zoom as garden birds are small and you need a powerful lens in order to create a decent sized image. 300-400mm will give you frame-filling images and help you blur the background to bring the tiny birds into frame but you still need to be rather close to your subject so you may find camouflage netting or if you really want to disguise yourself try hiding. You can use your house, shed, garage or if you want to get really close, try a hide. Stealth Gear have a One Man Wildlife Photography Hide for £74.99.

You need to entice the birds out of the trees and into spaces that are easily photographed. Ready-made perches infront of a background you've chosen or even designed will give you the best images. Hedges are a good background choice as when you take the picture and blur the background, the colours will look natural. If you only have a fence, try hanging a plain coloured cloth or if you have it hang camouflage netting over it. It's also a good idea to move bird feeders to the branches/perches you want the birds to land on as (fingers-crossed) they'll land on your strategically placed branch before moving on to the feeder. You can also change the branch each time you venture into the garden to give your images a different look.

Feeders and branches in place you need to sit very still or if you prefer the warmth of your house open up a window and poke your lens through it. However, it is best to use a tripod (one with a Gimbal or ball head is even better as you'll be able to adjust the camera quicker and easier) so if you only have windows that are several feet off the ground this might not be your best option!

Use a wider aperture to blur the background and keeping an eye on your shutter speed can stop you producing static images when you wanted movement. Also, thinking about where the bird is in the frame in relation to everything else can make a big difference to an image.

Photographing garden birds:
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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