While Tom and I are homebound as part of social distancing, we are finding new and creative ways to capture the world around us. While I am focusing on indoor photography (with still life, flowers, insects, light painting, and waterdrops), Tom is spending his days outside on our deck. His focus? Backyard birds!
Tom sported his warm winter coat and hat, and camped out on a stool with his tripod – onto which he placed his OM-D E-M1X. He paired it with an M.Zuiko 300mm F4.0 IS PRO and MC-14 teleconverter, which allows him to photograph the birds at 840mm in natural light.
SETTING UP A PERCH
One way to create a backyard scene that is ideal for bird photography is to set up a perch, especially if you don't have trees in your yard to attract birds naturally. For our yard, Tom collected a few "snags," or scavenged tree bark from downed trees and branches, for the birds to land on. He then placed them in our bird feeder.
Spring is making its appearance and the myrtle is beginning to bloom in our yard, so the purple blooms splattered here and there in the green make for wonderful backgrounds.
SETTINGS AND GEAR
For our backyard shoot, Tom placed the snags and pre-focused on where he thought the birds would land. Then, he was ready for the birds as they landed and did not need to refocus.
He often chose an aperture of F8 to keep the background dreamy and creamy while keeping of the bird tack sharp. The ISO used ranged from 800-3200 to keep the shutter speed fast enough to capture the quick moving birds.
Also, when photographing from your deck, in your backyard, or outside at all – think of yourself as a sundial! You will want to keep your back to the sun, to get the best quality of light on your subject and a catchlight in their eye; try not to be more than 15 degrees off sun angle.
If you're looking at lenses for your backyard bird photography, look for lenses that give you most range – like the M.Zuiko 300mm PRO, 40-150mm PRO, 12-100mm PRO, 75-300mm, or 14-150mm.
Have you tried your hand at capturing bird photography from your neighborhood? Share them with us on social with the hashtag #HomeWithOlympus! We'd love you see what you've captured!
Lisa and Tom Cuchara are known for their "Creativity is Contagious, Pass it on" philosophy, expertise in teaching Photography and Photoshop, inspirational & informative photo workshops, two books published with Amherst Media, and numerous award-winning photographs. They enjoy sharing their passion and knowledge.