Setting up the pose

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the Alan Murphy workshop in Alamo, Texas, it’s to make sure you have the right set up before you bring birds in to photograph.  Providing the right food is just the final step.

Altamira Oriole

An Altamira Oriole landed exactly where it was supposed to, on a bare portion of the mesquite, next to the grape.

First, find suitable staging perches from which the bird will fly a short distance to the food.  That ensures that you will get some good flight shots out and/or back.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Golden-fronted Woodpecker popped his head up on the side of the stump feeder which had been decorated with flowers and greenery.

Second, decorate the source of the food so it doesn’t look like a feeder.  Alan gets quite creative with his decorations so that the colors blend well with both the background and add some splashes of color to the photo.

Great Kiskadee

A Great Kiskadee landed exactly where we had pre-focused, on the brightly colored berries that contrast nicely with the green leaves of the citrus orchard behind it.

Make sure the feeder set up has a nice backdrop 30-50 feet away, so that you will get a smooth background with a telephoto shot.  Then, of course, you have to have a place to sit with your camera on a tripod that is at the same level as the feeder and the staging perch, so you are not shooting down on the birds.  Blinds are ideal, although a little chilly for us to sit in during the winter in Minnesota.  Raising the feeder perch and staging perch to window height works too.

And voila, wonderful photos that hardly need editing!  In fact, the only editing I did on these photos was some very minor cropping.

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