Backyard Wildlife Photography: More Productive than You May Think

Female American Gold Finch on a perch placed near a bird feeder.You might be surprised to learn that many of the lovely wild bird images you see gracing note & greeting cards, calanders, gallery walls and in bird fancier magazines were actually made in someone’s backyard! In fact many working pros put in a great deal of work to provide natural looking perches and environments near their feeders for the purpose of photography. There is a fellow here in North Carolina that is well known for his elaborate backyard bird photography set-up. His name is Gary Carter and he’s not only been successful in using his backyard images professionally, he attracts many photographers seeking workshops or the use of his backyard set-up.

Creating a backyard studio for photographing songs birds doesn’t require a lot of work nor does it have to be as elaborate as Mr. Carter’s set-up. I’ve seen many photographers simply tape or clamp a small twig to a tripod and set that out near the feeders prior to the sessions. Others go to more trouble setting up more permanent perches, installing water features and even planting native plants that attract birds and butterflies.

Of course there’s more to being successful photographing backyard birds than just installing a few feeders and perches. Even bakyard birds are shy around humans. In order to get decent photos a blind of some kind is usually used. For my backyard set-up I have a piece of foamboard cut to fit in a back window. In the center of the board I have a slot cut to extend a lens through. With this set-up I can sit in the comfort of my home while making wildlife images. This is a nice convenience if I’m feeling a bit under the weather or if circumstances won’t allow me to go on a hike or paddle. Of course a portable blind or hide will work quite nicely.

Anyone with bird feeders will testify to the large varitey of birds they attract. Visitors will vary by season, dependent upon the choice of foods offered and due to area of the backyard. While a set-up in a country home will have some advantages urban and suburban feeders will attract many different species as well. While a backyard wild bird studio certainly isn’t an excuse for not going out in the field, it can be a useful tool in the nature photographer’s arsenal.

This morning was one of those times when it just wasn’t possible for me to go on a hike or a paddle. So I wouldn’t totally waste the morning I made use of my backyard set-up. The images in this article were all out of my back window this morning. To be quite honest I’d have preferred to have been out in the wild somewhere, but that’s just not always possible.

Another shot of a female American Goldfinch shot in the backyard studio.

A male American Gold Finch enjoys a black sunflower seed. A House Finch preckes on a metal feeder stand.

wildlife photos

This entry was posted in Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Uncategorized, Wildlife Photography.

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