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.

A World of Wings

 

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When things are “for the birds” around my place, it’s a literal statement!

Needing a little time away from the monitors and keyboard, I put up a couple feeders for birds, plus a couple hummingbird feeders in the front yard. It was no time till things were definitely “for the birds” around here.

Just a short break from the desk and a little camera time has yielded some great time and some close encounters. I’ll attach a few pictures here and freshen this page in the coming days with some more birds which now call my yard “breakfast” or “lunch” or something like that. Enjoy!

House Finch Male

House Finch Male

House Finch Female

House Finch Female

Chihuanhuan Desert

 

1024w__D811163-Edit-EditA trip to the Big Bend National Park in the Chihuanhuan Desert is one I’d suggest you put on your list. If you like big space and big skies, it’s here!

Big Bend National Park is rated as one of the top 10 “darkest places” in our world. As a benefit, you can find “Big Sky” country at night like you may have never seen.

Night photography is new to me so I’m always looking for some insights. Let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned and some resources you may find helpful.

Equipment needed will be a camera which can handle high ISO, typically 1600-3200, sometimes higher. My personal preference is to start at 1600 ISO and adjust as needed. You’ll also need a solid tripod for long exposures and a fast lens for gathering all the light you can.

My lens of choice is the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED. It’s available for most popular camera bodies. If this night photography interest blossoms some more, I’ll probably add the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED for that extra wide angle view. Both lenses are very reasonably priced. Don’t worry about the manual focus because you will set it and forget it. I literally tape the lens in place once focused on infinity, and, you’ll want to focus on infinity, not just turn to infinity.

You’ll profit from a way to set long exposures. My choice has been the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote. It also comes “wired.”

If you can’t make it to Big Bend right away, check out the website “Dark Sky Finder” or “Blue Marble” for a dark place near where you live.

There are numerous website discussing night photography so a little searching will be profitable. Here’s one that has really helped me get started. It’s David Kingham’s Blog.

So, “the rest of the story” . . . I booked 6 days in the desert for night photography. It rained the first 5, including tornado warnings, hail, minor flooding, power outages! You get the picture, and, pun intended, I barely didn’t! I ended up with one night to photography. Such is life, but as the movie says, “I’ll be back,” and I’d add, “Lord willing”!

The days did yield some desert goodness and a few pictures will suffice. Check out night photography and enjoy the heavens above!

Mule Ears

Mule Ears

White Wing Dove

White Wing Dove

Scaled Quail

Scaled Quail

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon