Backyard Photography – great way to improve your skills


While in Virginia teaching a wildlife photography class for the Norfolk Botanical Gardens I had some free time to photograph in the backyard of a friend’s house. Feeders and water attracted cardinals, wrens, titmice, chickadees, and squirrels to the yard. On the back porch railing, I created a natural looking setting using dead logs, pine cones, and Spanish moss. Each morning I placed peanuts, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter at strategic locations. I photographed from a blind using my 80-400 mm zoom lens and 600 mm telephoto. Results were best with the longer lens since the animals were less timid when I was farther away. Lighting was difficult due to a large number of trees blocking the sun. I used aperture priority using exposure compensation to adjust for the changing light on the fore & background. Using my Nikon D3 camera, I was able to adjust my ISO settings as high as 1250 with acceptable results when the light was low. This experience was a good way to improve my response time, composition, and metering skills. This was a great opportunity since where I live, backyard feeders are not permitted.