Watching the Birds In My Backyard

You can tell just how much I need to get out and shoot by how much I photograph the birds in my backyard. It is not that I am bored, but I really need to make some photographs when this happens. Yesterday seemed like the perfect morning to play around a little. The fresh snow outside really helped me bring them in it seemed like. My feeder has been working for a while now, and I spread some seed on top of the snow on our table outside to get them a little closer.

Getting In Tight With the Tamron 150-600mm Lens

I don’t know what I expected when I bought this lens. I guess I thought that I had a backup at a fair price in case something happened to my 400mm. I did not really expect stellar images with this lens. What I have found is that it really does the job for me. In a situation like what I was in yesterday I really couldn’t be set up in one spot. The light lens for the 600mm reach really allowed me to stay mobile and make the pictures that I wanted to make.

Am I In the Studio?

The white snow as my background really allowed me to nearly recreate some of the great prints that Joel Sartore makes for the Photo Ark. It was a fun way to make a photo a little different from what I normally make. I had thoughts of getting rid of the sunflowers seeds in Photoshop, but decided against it.

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Slowing Down the Hummingbird

The hummingbird moves so fast you have to really move fast to capture it. Yo have to anticipate the action, and have a high shutter speed to capture it. I was at 1/2000th of a second here, and it slowed the bird down, but left just enough movement in the wings to show action. You don’t want a photo of a bird that looks like it is falling. I did not have long to photograph the hummingbird, but it did make me want to set up a remote camera to try and get some more shots in the future.

Expanding the My Backyard Birds Segment

This post should really have been titled My Parents Backyard Birds. I was in town to shoot an event as well as see my parents for Mother’s Day when I decided to try and capture a few shots of the hummingbirds. I normally just post photos of the birds in my backyard, but since I used to live in this house I think that it counts. I am sure over the course of the summer I will re-visit this feeder to try a few things.

A Sparrow Caught in a Snowstorm

Friday I was chomping at the bit to use my new lens. I had just bought a Canon 400mm f/2.8, and I had not used it yet. I looked out my back window and noticed that the birds were really feeding with a few flurries coming down. Then the flurries developed into more, and I had a photo. I put the 400 on my Canon 7D Mark II, and made a couple of pictures quickly while the snow was coming down hard. This house sparrow did not seem too pleased about the situation. It just sat there very still for me as it tried to figure out why it was snowing. It made for an interesting photo, and gave me a chance to use my new lens.

Using a Long Lens to Compress the Scene

This shot is really made because of the long lens. It compresses the scene to give this look that I think is quite nice. The snowflakes closer to the camera become beautiful bokeh snowflakes, and they help add depth to the scene in an interesting way. Had I shot this with something smaller and cropped in I would not have had the same effect. I put the 1.4x converter on the lens to give me an effective focal length of 896mm. A nearly 900mm lens helps me get close to this small bird. That sounds like a lot of lens, but for a little bird it really is not. This was a good first test of the lens, and it gave me an indication that I was in for a treat while using it.

The Many Poses of the House Sparrow

The bird that seems to have gotten used to my presence the most of the house sparrow. They like to perch on the hedges outside of my back window while they wait to get some seed. That gives me a perfect opportunity to get in tight on them. I have already made one post of some of the behavior of this bird. I have had some fun photographing this bird. Lately though I have passed because I have a wide range of photos of it. The amazing thing is that I am shooting with the equivalent of a 960mm lens from not that far away, and this is the view that I get. If I was shooting an athlete at 960mm I would be complaining about the fact that it was too tight. For birds though I could use a little more lens. I think that remote cameras will have to play a part in future bird photos.

 

The House Finch Visits My Backyard

What a turnaround this week has been on the blog. After a couple of days of hard hitting hockey action we return to the birds of the backyard. I really think that shooting these little birds in my backyard has helped me shooting the large athletes. I made this photo a couple of weeks ago when the weather was not so good. The birds came to me so I had something to photograph when I normally would not have. I saw a couple of house finch’s early in the winter, but it was a while before they came back. I tried a couple of bad angles out of my back window to capture them, but the optics just don’t work very well at an extreme angle. Luckily with a little patience the birds flew to an area where I could photograph them. With wildlife photography patience is the key. I have learned to wait until the shot presents itself instead of forcing the action.

Some Color During the Winter

This whole bird adventure started one day with a scene much like the one above. A bright red cardinal set up against the blue sky. It was a little color on a bleak winter day. That inspired me to learn more about the birds so that I could photograph them more. In the winter I have a lot of photography gear that is used for field sports that gets very little use. Making the photos of birds gives me a chance to use my long lenses, and also to make some photographs.

Setting Up The Backyard Studio

As this project gains a little steam I am coming up with ways to make my photos a little better. I think that the above photo works because the background is clean for the most part. The tree that draws the birds into the yard initially is also a busy tree that does not work well as a background. I have tried to set things up so that I have a good shot of the birds as they wait for a turn on the feeders. Other than putting a background up behind the tree I have to use my placement with the birds to get the look that I want. Here I was very lucky, and I hope to help that luck as time goes on.

Bonus Photos

Here are a couple of other cardinal photos that I like from my first few days shooting.