Backyards & Birds

Backyards can be great places to enjoy some bird photography and the necessary things aren’t all that difficult to arrange.

Oriole
Oriole

I recently moved and thought why not create a simple place for some close-to-home photography. Here’s my game plan to make it happen.

I put up a bird feeder. The options here are numerous. My choice was a pole with 4 arms. This way I can put different attractants on each arm. My choices consisted of a black-sunflower feeder, a “bug-cake,” a suet block, and an Oriole feeder. And, remember one the things attracted will be squirrels so you’ll need to have some shields in place to keep them at bay. I added a birdbath and now the bird cafe is complete!

Birds often like to land on a nearby limb to survey the scene before they come to the feeders. To meet this need I used a small broken limb from a nearby tree. I attached this to an old lightstand I had on hand. You may have a nearby tree or bush which will do the same thing.

Now it’s get the camera ready and use anything convenient for some “cover” to break up your presence. I used a covered patio with some furniture on it so I can sit among the things and not be so obvious.

The goal here, besides pictures, is to optimize the two keys to bird photography, i.e., you never have too much glass and you’re never too close. I’d add that to enjoy bird photography you have to be part of the silence. Hopefully you can use your longest telephoto lens and begin to capture some bird pictures. It’s a great way to enjoy some close-to-home photography!

I’ll include some links for some items which might assist your own ideas of how to construct your backyard bird set up. Enjoy!

Sky Cafe A La Carte

Duncraft Weather Log Haven

Heavy Duty 80″ 4 Arm Bird Feeder Pole Set w/ Twist in Ground Socket

Audubon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle Model NATORPEDO

BIRDS CHOICE Recycled Orange Plastic Bird Feeder

Hidden

Yellow-Headed BlackbirdSometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. A case in point is this Yellow-Headed Blackbird I encountered recently. He reminded me that not all the things you look for are right out in the open. Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, they seem “hidden.

Whether it’s photography or life, it pays to be sensitive to, alert to, open to those opportunities which come our way. One for me was this Blackbird. He was far from obvious in the sea of grass and if I’d been moving too fast he’d have been missed for certain!

It likely sounds like some cliché but the pace of life presses most of us to the point that we can seriously miss some of our best opportunities. Maybe it’s time to slow down and look a little closer, listen a little better, linger a little longer. Your husband or wife, parents or children, friends or neighbors will be richer and far less hidden to you!

D.L. Moody told a little illustration of such opportunity this way —
“A sculptor once showed a visitor his studio. It was full of statues of gods. One was very curious. The face was concealed by being covered with hair, and there were wings on each foot. ‘What is his name?’ said the visitor. ‘Opportunity,’ was the reply. ‘Why is his face hidden?’ ‘Because men seldom know him when he comes to them.’ ‘Why has he wings on his feet?’ ‘Because he is soon gone, and once gone can never be overtaken.’ It becomes us, then, to make the most of the opportunities God has given us.”

[D. L. Moody, Moody’s Stories: Being a Second Volume of Anecdotes, Incidents and Illustrations (New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburg: Fleming H. Revell, 1899), 79–80.]

This Yellow-Headed Blackbird reminded me afresh of the uniqueness of the people around me, people our Lord has brought into our paths, people often “hidden” unless we slow down, see their uniqueness, and thank the Lord for opening our eyes to what we might have thought was hidden!

The psalmist sees these hidden people this way in Psalm 139.11-18 —
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Let me close by reminding all of us that our lives are not “hidden” from our Lord! He has more for us than we’ve ever imagined. If you’re not aware of this and would like to begin a new way of living, literally a new life, start by placing your faith in this great God who loves you. Scripture says, John 3.16,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

And, for all of us, remember, sometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. It might be that gracious gift of new life through faith in Jesus you’ve been driving past, and, it might be that person next to you about whom the Lord is opening your eyes to see like never before.

Dawn

“Dawn” is a daily event for most of us. Every day typically begins as things begin to become visible and that day’s new things begin to unfold.

One of those “dawn” moments is upon me of late. Being in the midst of a move of household from one state to another, from doing one thing (for many years) and transitioning to another, well, it’s challenging.

One of those things which often occurs with “dawn” is you get some perspective, i.e., you begin to be able to see. One of those dangers of doing the same thing many years is you can seem to miss the “dawn” and that look ahead. Moving makes it hit you in the face, and that’s not all bad!

Ahead seems to be a season of some new things, new opportunities, and new friendships, just to mention some. There even seems to be some new things with the photography which I so enjoy.

But, if you’ve lived a few years, you know that things often turn out differently than what “seems to be” before you. That’s not pessimism, just realism.

In the coming weeks and months, Lord willing, there will be some new images surfacing of new places and new things. It’s pretty exciting. Yet, there’s the “but what if” that slips into my thoughts.

Let me tell you what’s anchoring this “dawn” and will anchor every “dawn” ahead. It’s not a floating vision but a steadfast faith in a steadfast God whose amazing grace is certain to all whose faith rests in his Son, our Savior, Jesus. (Check John 3.16 for this anchor!)

I ran across some Scripture while teaching a series in the Psalms. Check out Psalm 57.7-11.

7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. 10 For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens And Your truth to the clouds. 11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth.

What a great reminder and anchor as that new day dawns! “Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens And Your truth to the clouds.”

Here’s a perspective for every season.

An English songwriter and poet, Frances Havergal, most famous for her hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be,” was 36 when she put down her thoughts about the dawn of a New Year, thoughts that are good every day of any year! Interestingly, her life on this earth ended 7 years later at the age of 43. Here’s her perspective of the “dawn”:

Another Year Is Dawning

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be,
In working, or in waiting,
Another year with Thee.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of service,
Of witness of Thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven
Another year for Thee.

“Wondering” versus “Knowing”

A recent trip to southwest Colorado to try to catch some “aspen color” was all about “wondering”! Wondering if the timing was right! Wondering if the location was right!

Well, the timing wasn’t “right” even though the location was a great place to enjoy some mountain scenery. I’m guessing we were between a week and two weeks too early. That’s often the story of the landscape photographer’s life! So, with some “wandering” in the mountains a few, and that’s the instrumental word, places were found!

The early backlight among the aspen almost made some of the undergrowth glow!

Leaving Telluride we, still “wondering,” took some “off-road” driving and found one small patch of aspen near the top of the pass. It was slim picking in a place with such great potential.

A little more “wondering” about what the last light would be on Mt. Sneffels, a 14,000+ foot beauty, yielded a glow which made the wait worthwhile.

So, all this “wondering” got me to thinking. While there’s nothing wrong with some wondering in life, there are some things worth “knowing.” Foundational is the certainty of God’s Word, a Word which declares his love for us, so much so he sent Jesus to die for our sin so that we could have his new life through our faith in Jesus! Check out John 3.16 for this Word worth “knowing”!

The wisest man in history, name Solomon, said about God’s Word that “according to all that He spoke, not one word has failed of all His good word, which He promised”! 1Kings 8.56

Now, that’s worth “knowing” and building your life on, even if, as a photographer, you’re stuck “wondering” about the location, the timing, the conditions! Knowing God’s Word is a foundation which makes even Mt. Sneffels pale is something upon which we can build life!

The Rock

There are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors! Just being there is a healing place for my heart, especially when the press of this hyper-active lifestyle of today. One of my working presuppositions is: “Everybody is Frazzled”! It is to the point of cliché to say so, it’s just that true.

Being outdoors brings me back to a time to breathe, think, reflect . . . things not found in the office, the daily schedule, the crowded calendar, the persistent connectedness. This “breathing” time, both physically, and especially spiritually and mentally, netted this photograph below.

This stream was rushing down the hillside, jumping over about everything in its path. “But,” which by the way is one of those key words in life, there was this rock, and there was this growth, and there were even some delicate little flowers beautifully blooming. Where? In the midst of this rushing stream!

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors, the stream, and the breathing, I really enjoyed the reflection it brought to my life about that rock.

One of the wonderful truths of the Word of God is that He is our Rock! In the rushing stream of life, our gracious God is a rock upon which we can rest, grow, and flourish! The Word of God describes, Ps 18.2, how “The LORD is my rock” and how our refuge is in Him.

Psalm 19.14 declares this Rock is also our Redeemer. He will lift the one who rests, trusts, builds upon Him and He delivers them from the surrounding rush!

A comment often made is about someone who has hit “rock bottom.” Consider, if the Lord is your Rock that’s not a bad place to be! What a great truth in this rush we call life!

The Rock

The Rock

The Word of God gives some wonderful direction is this rushing stream . . . Proverbs 3:5–8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.

If today is a time for you to breathe, think, and reflect, consider where you’re standing today. It may well be the day to consider Jesus of whom the Word of God says, 2 Corinthians 5:21,
21 He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus is that Rock that holds!

Badgered & Buffalo’ed!

I have a longstanding love of words, or, as a mentor of mine, Dr. Howard Hendricks carefully schooled me to say, “terms.” All “words” have a context and the two I tossed out definitely need one!

Most of us would avoid being “badgered” or “buffalo’ed”! But, to a photographer, they can be just what you want to hear.

Enjoying some time in the Badlands National Park allowed for each of these “terms” to come the fullness of their photographic context! Getting to spend a little time with this young badger who was hunting his next meal was a real treat.

The Badlands host one of the choice herds of the American Bison. They’re definitely worth your visit, and a picture, if you’re in the park. I couldn’t help but think of a line when I was a kid . . . “My dad is stronger than your dad”! . . . or something to that effect! This guy was in full command of the scene and the herd nearby.

American Bison

American Bison

Back to the “words” or “terms” for a moment. It’s worth remembering that the great God who created these majestic animals also communicated with us in “terms,” i.e., “words” in a context. These “words” unfold His great love for us, sending Jesus to provide for all our brokenness, rebellion, hurts, hates, and sin! God’s “words” tell us that “Jesus paid it all” and that through our faith in His gracious provision, we have a new life! Check out God’s “words” in 2Timothy 3.16, and His “word” just for you in John 3.16!

These will change your life!