“Bird Photography Near Feeders” plus 1 more Digital Photography School

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Bird Photography Near Feeders

Posted: 31 Oct 2013 11:44 AM PDT

A Guest Post by Lithuanian Photographer Tadas Naujokaitis.

Bird photography is quite difficult because birds don’t do what a photographer wants. Moreover, it’s often hard to get close to them. And when you have more experience in photography, you realize that it’s even more difficult to take a good bird photo, because you need a good background and a beautiful environment. However, there are a number of ways you can improve the bird photos you take. In this article, I’ll explain some tips on photographing birds near feeders.

The place

The place is the first thing you need to consider. You need to decide what bird species you want to photograph, and work out where you’ll find that kind of bird.

Depending on your location, even your backyard can be a great place for a feeder to attract the species you’re after. I wanted to photograph forest birds, so I chose a local forest. I searched for the exact place in that forest quite a long time—mainly, I needed to consider the background, and the amount and direction of the light that reached the feeder.

Ideally, your location will have a smooth background (when I search for a background, I use manual focusing at ~4m and take many test shots) and enough light. I’ve found it’s best when the sunshine reaches the feeder in early morning. Also, be sure to ask for a permission to feed and photograph the birds if you are not the land owner.

The hide

Once you’ve worked out the exact place where you’ll put your feeder, you need a hide. I recommend using a permanent hide, because birds will understand it as a part of environment, and you won’t need to set it up and then wait while the birds get used to it each time you decide to take photos.

You can build the hide from whatever you like—even an old door can be very useful. I built my hide from the branches I found in the area. It required a bit more work, and it isn’t waterproof, but I didn’t want to use expensive materials because there is always the risk that your hide can be damaged by other people if you don’t build it in your own backyard.

One more thing to note: the hide should be large enough for you to stay in it comfortably, because you may spend many hours in it. This is how my hide looks:


The feeder and food

The construction of the feeder itself isn’t very important. I prefer the platform feeder because, if you like, you can put many decorations on it when you’re photographing birds.

However, the food is very important. I recommend using sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet cakes. Other similar products should be fine, too, but be sure the food you choose won’t harm the birds you’re photographing. The food must not be tainted, salted or smoked. And if you feed birds in the colder seasons of the year, you must feed them constantly until the weather becomes warm and the snow melts—otherwise many birds can die. Be prepared to spend some money on food. As am example, you may need even more than 100kg of sunflower seeds for one winter if you use them as the main food.


The perch

If the birds have already found the food, you can start shooting. Find a beautiful perch, twig or rotten stump and put them on the feeder or near it. If you’d like, find some decorations to add to the scene—berries, for example. They will make the composition of your shots more lively.

Be creative: try using various perches, or put the food in such place that you don’t see it though the lens. You can use holes in the feeder, put the food on the side of the perch that isn’t visible, or simply place it below the perch on which the bird will sit.

The food can also be put in such location that the perch becomes an intermediate stop for birds moving towards the food. Often it’s difficult to photograph the bird without food in its bill. If this is your goal, try to hide some food so the bird will need to search for it. You can also take some pictures of birds without food, when the food has just run out, but you won’t have much time to shoot before the birds realise that there’s no more food and fly away.

My recommendation, however, is to always have plenty of food in the feeder, which will attract more visitors to the feeder, and be ready to quickly take a photo before the birds take any food.



You should get good results with any dslr and a 100-200mm lens. However, with longer focal length, you’ll get a better background. A tripod is usually necessary, too.


Camera settings

Exposure: 1/50-1/500 or even shorter, depending on how fast the birds are (faster birds need a shorter exposure), and how much light you have (if there isn’t much light, you may need to set longer exposure if you don’t want to use high ISO settings).

Aperture: if you don’t have enough light and want the best possible background, select the largest aperture (the smallest number). If it’s difficult to get the whole bird in focus, close the aperture a bit.

ISO: use as low an ISO speed as possible. However, if you don’t have much light, it’s better to set ISO 800 and get sharp pictures than ISO 200 and take blurry ones.

The light

The best time for photography is morning or evening because the light is soft and has a pleasant hue, shadows are not so distinct, and it’s easier to get details from very bright and dark areas. Overcast days are better than sunny ones because the shadows are less distinct. However the midday sun can be your friend if its rays are diffused by trees.



It’s usual to leave some space in the direction in which the bird is looking or flying. Try using the rule of thirds in your composition. Avoid any distracting elements and take the picture at the bird’s eye level. Don’t always try to fill the frame with a bird: remember that birds are very fast creatures, so they need space. Even in the photo!



The best part of bird photography near feeders for me is that I have a great time. It’s usually hard to believe that 10 hours have already passed – I always wish I had more time. I hope you will have a good time photographing birds near feeders, too.


About the Author:

Tadas Naujokaitis lives in Lithuania. See more of his work at www.tadasnaujokaitis.tk and connect with him on his Facebook page.

Post originally from: digital photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Bird Photography Near Feeders

The post Bird Photography Near Feeders by Guest Contributor appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Matching the Production Style to the Image – High Energy Means High Contrast

Posted: 31 Oct 2013 06:17 AM PDT


The Following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5 and accompanying workshop from the Lightroom Workshop Collection v5.  The Lightroom Preset System is designed to take you from Ordinary to Extraordinary photos in just a few seconds and clicks within Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5.


One thing that we like to do within our studio is match the post production style to the overall emotion and story within the image. We feel that doing so leads to a much stronger overall image.

So in scenes that have a lot of energy, we want to emphasize the excitement with a colorful, high contrast production style. For this tutorial, we are using this sparkler exit photo which should be well complimented by the high contrast edit. The SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5 has presets specifically for high contrast portraits which we are going to apply to this photo. Not to worry, we are going to demonstrate all of the settings below.

Here is what our image looks like before and after our presets are applied.


Lightroom Preset System v5 Mixology

For those who have the Preset System, you can follow the Mixology Recipe below to get to the same results. If you don’t have the Preset System, please read the article or watch the video below to see exactly how this look was achieved.

Develop Mixology
01-10 BASE-SOFT: 14a. Heavy Crush – Skin Desat

Local Adjustment
Radial Filter: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop (watch video tutorial for reference)

Written Tutorial

Step 1: Checking the EXIF data


The first thing we generally do is take a look at how the image was shot. Doing so, gives us a lot of information on things we need to look out for when post producing. To check the EXIF data press ”i”.  This image was shot with a Nikon D700 at ISO 6400. This is important to keep in mind because Nikon cameras tend to shoot skin tones slightly green, and this high of an ISO might also present a noise issue.

Step 2: Apply Preset

After we adjust Color Temperature and Tint to taste, we apply the “01-10 BASE-SOFT: 14a. Heavy Crush – Skin Desat” preset. This preset adds contrast to the photo and makes adjustments to desaturate skin tones.  The Contrast is being raised and the Shadows and Blacks are being dropped in order to boost overall image contrast. To flatten out the highlights over skin tones, we have dropped the Highlights and Whites.  In the Tone Curve we have a subtle “S” shaped contrast boosting tone curve to add a bit of contrast back specifically where we need it.

Here are the final Basic and Tone Curve Panel settings:


We have our standard Sharpening and Noise Reduction adjustments applied to this image. Even though this image was shot at a high ISO,the D700 takes such great photos at ISO 6400 that we don’t have to raise any of the Noise Reduction Luminance beyond what we already have.

In the HSL our Reds and Oranges are slightly dropped in order to desaturate heavy reds and oranges that can appear within skin tones when we are doing a high contrast edit.


Step 3: Add Radial Filter

The last thing we’re going to do is add a Radial Filter to this image. This filter is unique to Lightroom 5, but Lightroom 4 users can get the same effect by adjusting the vignette settings, or by using an Adjustment Brush and painting around the outside of the image.


We’re pairing the Radial Filter with our “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops” preset to get a nice vignette around our couple. We adjust the Feather to 70 to make the effect more subtle.


Some people may comment that shadow details are being clipped, but that’s okay for this image. Remember, we edited this image to fit the mood and energy, not for it to be technically “color correct.” Making this high energy photo a high contrast one is a stylistic choice, and we love the way it looks. Here’s what our photo looks like before and after our edit.





Watch the Video Tutorial

If you would like to see exactly how all of the settings and adjustments were applied, please watch the video from the SLRLounge youtube video channel.

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Conclusion and Learn More

We hope you all enjoyed this tutorial. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5 or the newly released Lightroom Workshop Collection v5, please click any of the links in this article.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Matching the Production Style to the Image – High Energy Means High Contrast

The post Matching the Production Style to the Image – High Energy Means High Contrast by Post Production Pye appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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