My Backyard Techniques for a Winning Photograph!

rstrick2

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My Backyard Techniques for a Winning Photograph!
By Robert Strickland

I setup a feeding and water station in the back yard next to my shed. It includes four feeders and a birdbath. I use a variety of seeds for the feeders. Most birds favor the Sunflower seeds. However, a variety of seeds will draw in many different species. I also hang out a suet feeder as well. This allows me to take full advantage of the bird situation I have right in my own backyard.

My backyard is not very large. Approximately a tenth of an acre. I have some trees growing along the fence line, which the birds use for safety. I also have some flowering bushes growing and a Mexican sunflower. The birds use the trees and bushes for a staging area before they come in to grab a seed. Some of the birds such as Northern Cardinal stay on the feeder feeding constantly. Others like the Tufted Titmouse come in quickly grab a seed and high tail for the protection of the trees. Then are ground feeders who just hang around cleaning up the seeds that fall out of the feeders.

The birdbath is essential because the birds need fresh water everyday. In Citrus County, Florida, it is dry during the winter months, November through April and the birds enjoy a drink as well as a bath. Some birds just come and have a cool refreshing drink, while other prefer to get in the bath a splash up a storm. The Cardinals seem to want to bathe. They come to drink, splash a little and get right in and let their feathers down and soak up the fresh water. The Tufted Titmouse will come in and splash for all its worth and when they are done look like drowned rats.

I position the feeders and birdbath so there is a good light, a good background and a perfect distance from my shed. My storage shed becomes my blind so that the birds and other wildlife are not alarmed when they come to feed or bathe. Inside the shed, I setup my camera equipment. I sit waiting patiently for birds to come in. At this point patience is a virtue.

The feeding / watering station and the use of the shed as a blind work very well to allow me the opportunity to capture a variety of backyards birds. It is simple, the birds come for the food and water and I capture them with my camera.

This is where I captured the Bathing Cardinal that Won first prize in the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Photo contest in the Amateur division for Backyard Habitat. That day the Northern Cardinal came to the birdbath to drink and bathe. After a small drink the cardinal decided to take a bath, splashing water everywhere. Suddenly he just stopped and let all his feathers fall, did not move and soaked up the water letting his down feathers collect water.

Setting up a feeding / watering station and the use of a blind (shed) as well as plants, bushes and trees allowed me the opportunity to capture a prize-winning photograph.

cardinal-bathing.jpg
 

Derrel

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GREAT POST! I enjoyed the exposition, plus the fine photograph. The behind the scenes stuff is quite interesting...for example, I had no idea it was dry there in these winter months....I just assumed there would be some rain that provided natural water for the birds, but apparently not. Thanks for letting us know how you are using a shed as a backyard blind--pretty cool!
 

icassell

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Thanks for this wonderful post. I have a feeder and 3 hummingbird feeders, but hadn't really given any thought to a birdbath. My plan was to plant some hummingbird-friendly flowers, but I haven't done it yet. I also need to move my feeder as it doesn't have a very pleasing BG from a photographic standpoint.

I was actually considering taking down 2 of the hummer feeders because, without fail, I set my camera up ready for one and the darned hummer goes to the other :)

I love your cardinal image.
 

grafxman

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Excellent photo! Interesting set up. My feeders and bath are in my front yard. I put privacy fences around some of the area. I just open my front door and shoot from my living room.
 

fokker

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Cool post. I might work on making a bird feeder to see what I can attract.
 

srinaldo86

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Love those Cardinals!

I do something similar... DIY Photography Blind. I think I'm going to add a small pond to make it more realistic.
I'm really curious what your neighbors think when they see you out in the child's play house. Hah, I like the set up but it must look odd from a 3rd party's point of view.
 

Roy_WT

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What a fantastic shot, Congrats, I can't wait for summer to come back and try my telephoto 300mm.
Regards...Roy
 

USM IS

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Fantastic shot and info......Mike
 

NateS

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why wait for summer, that lens can be used in winter as well. i'll bet there something you can capture now.

What length lens are you using to get these captures and about how far away is your blind/shed from the feeders and bird bath. I'd love to see a shot of your shed setup and where you shoot from.
 

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