My Journey to Photographing Birds
I sit here wondering where to start... First I would like to say that when I purchased my first digital camera, an Olympus 2100, I did not have a clue about photography and choose this camera because I wanted to photograph birds. I added a B300 teleconvertor to this camera immediately.
I bought one bird feeder, hung it up in my yard, and started photographing birds from a window in my house. I quickly realized I had a long way to go to get the photos I wanted. I realized even with 640mm's of zoom I had to get a lot closer, plus I wanted more natural photos so I had to figure out better places to put my feeder, and I needed more feeders. I also read up on the birds that came to my yard to find out what they liked to eat and other habits: "know your enemies' habits," I mean birds.
I decided to hang the feeders in a tree instead of from a pole and moved a yard swing within 10 feet of the tree. The birds soon became accustomed to my presence and I was able to get much better photos of them. The bright daylight sun sometimes blew my photographs into a glare instead of a nice photo, so I moved my feeders to better locations in the tree and my swing to a better position regarding the sun's glare. When I would got out to photograph, all the birds would take off as if shot from a canon, but within minutes they would return, so be patient. While observing their comings and goings I noticed places on the branches they would always land, so I would set my camera to those places and wait, and almost always was rewarded with a good photo. I added a bird bath to my arsenal of attractions and this proved to be another good feature to point my camera at and wait. When the birds come, it is important to move slowly and take your time. Let the camera focus properly and frame your photo -- believe me, you will have time to do this. As I progressed in getting good photos I placed my feeders and bath in places where I would get better backgrounds for the photos.
I became very familiar with my yard's visitors and soon saw from my window birds that would not come within photography range when someone was near by, so I hung some curtains from the roof on the swing making my presence less noticeable, sure enough this worked very well, BUT these birds feed mostly on the ground and I did not like the photos, another problem to solve. I got some tree stumps and placed them near my seat and put feed on them. Sure enough these ground feeders would hop up on the stumps and I was able to get good photos of them.
What the Birds See
Cold weather soon arrived and I would go into the yard and wrap myself in an old blanket.
I took a lot of razzing about this when I posted this photo at DPreview. Not only did it keep me warm it had some unexpected effects: more birds stayed at the feeders and they came closer, I guess I was fully camouflaged now.
I became a real bird nut and started reading about the birds that I get in my yard and also with my wife's permission (LOL) bought a Canon D30 plus a couple of lenses.
My bird photos can be seen at www.birdhelpers.com.