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Top Tips for Backyard Bird Photography

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by Tracie Louise (subscribe)
Self Taught Photographer living in East Gippsland, Victoria. Visit my website ...... All images used are Tracie Louise Photography, unless otherwise stated
Published July 3rd 2013
'Shooting' birds in your own backyard
Birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Honey Eater on a Agapanthus

I still love to see the look on people's faces when I tell them that my favourite thing to do is shoot birds. Even people who know me well, and know what a nature lover I am, still get that split second look of horror on their faces, until they realise I am talking about photography. And you don't have to be an expert photographer, or have the latest and greatest equipment to reap the rewards from this pass time. And the best thing of all. You don't have to travel any further than your own back door step.

birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Pale Headed Rosella on my Backyard Bird Feeder

Some of my best birdie portraits were taken in my own backyard, and you don't have to live as rurally as I do. Most backyards attract at least some birds and there is lots you can do to encourage more feathered visitors. We have many wonderful bird attracting native trees and plants, especially the Grevillea and Callistemon. Any nectar rich flowers will attract the honey eaters, such as the salvia varieties and lavender, even Camelia's. It was the agapanthus in my own yard that landed me my best honey eater shots. And what backyard would be complete without at least one bird feeder. I have one in the front yard and one in the back, together with a bird bath to provide the most bird attracting potential.

birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Rainbow Lorikeets Love Flowering Gum Trees

You have the birds in your yard, so now what. Capturing them on "film" might not be as easy as you had first hoped. The smaller varieties especially can move very quickly and they are not always in the mood to co-operate with your creative endeavours. Patience is absolutely key when it comes to capturing your birdie portraits, and not every attempt will yield success. But with a little persistence and a great deal of patience you can be pleasantly surprised with the results you can achieve.

birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Crested Pigeon eating Fallen Seed from the Feeder

A DSLR is not a mandatory requirement, but certainly is helpful. Pleasing results can be attained with a fully automatic camera, but having the ability to change lenses will certainly make a difference. Whilst for landscape and other photography the first thing I recommend people do for better results is to get your camera off auto mode, bird photography is the exception to this rule. It will all happen so quickly you won't have time to be changing settings. I personally never use fully auto mode anymore, preferring a semi-auto (or program) mode.

birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Baby Fairy Wren Sitting on my Back Deck

Be warned though, once you get hooked, photographing birds can be very addictive, bordering on obsession. It's the thrill of the chase I think, and the fact that bird photography can be very challenging, always requiring that little extra effort. If you are planning on getting serious about it at some point you will not be able to resist the lure of a longer lens. Whilst I was able to capture some stunning images with my standard 200mm, the convenience of being able to get that much closer with a 500mm was eventually just too much to resist. A tripod is also helpful to get really sharp images, although not always convenient to set up in time, and a monopod is also a good option for that very reason. But you can easily get away without either if you are fortunate enough to possess a steady hand.

birds, photography, backyard, nature, wildlife, Tracie Louise Photography
Kookaburra Enjoying Some Sunshine on the Front Fence

So why not get out this weekend and take advantage of what may be right on your own doorstep. Once you get hooked it can quickly become akin to collecting Pokemon... you gotta catch 'em all. Every new species that you have not yet caught on film becomes yet another challenge to attain. And just to prove it can be done.. all the above images were taken in my own backyard.
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Why? For Fun & Creativity
When: Any time
Where: Your Place
Cost: Free (equipment costs vary)
Your Comment
I am so glad you got the Olympus, I think you will be very happy with it. Some of my very favourite shots I took with my old Olympus. And don't think that it will be more than you will ever need. I thought that once, and then got well and truly bit by the bug.. then ended up needing more than I had. I always tell people to buy the best they can afford now, because who knows what you might need in the future.

I'm not familiar with Photo Fig.. will check it out :)
by Tracie Louise (score: 2|119) 1723 days ago
Your photography is amazing, simply stunning.
I ended up trading the Cannon for an Olympus OM-D, way more than I will ever need but you have inspired me :)
If my photos are 1 tenth of the quality of yours then I will be happy:)

You should put them on Photo Fig, you would win the $100 on offer, don't tell Jon! ha ha
by Lorraine A (score: 3|1582) 1724 days ago
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