Phil Scarlett Photography

Inspired by Nature

Back Garden Photography

Garden PhotographyPhil ScarlettComment

Sometime's the best wildlife photos can be found closer to home than you may think, whether you live in an urban city environment or the countryside you may be surprised what wildlife can be found, sometimes from the comfort of your own kitchen window!

People often ask me how I manage to get some of my photos, now I believe that even the smallest garden can be set up as a photography studio so here are my top tips with a few photos of my set up to give you some ideas.

1 - Feed the wildlife! Now if your lucky enough to have foxes or badgers enter your garden then just make sure your 100% before you start feeding as they will come to rely on you for food and may choose live close by due to the easy food source (prepare for your garden to be dug up, badgers love digging!) Put plenty of different types of bird food out to try and attract the maximum number of different species possible.

2 - Again keep feeding: All birds look for an easy food source and may choose to have young nearby and if you stop feeding it could have devastating effects, feed into the Spring and early Summer not just in the colder months, I give my garden a rest between August and September but I still always have a couple of feeders of decent seed out just in case. The more you feed the more you are likely to build up a real decent number of birds - Don't give up!

3 - Set up photography perches: (Photos of feeders can look ugly and un-natural) , below is one of my set-ups


You can see above a basic perch set up, I tend to use old tripods with various different branches drilled in to the end of the arm, this way you can set it to any height or angle needed. Camo netting helps get the birds used to it and looks a bit better from the kitchen window!

I also use an old stump on broomsticks as a feeding area, this also has a few holes drilled into the side where more perches can be pushed in.

4 -  Attract the birds to your perches: This sounds simple but sometimes it can be harder than you may think. Here's a few little tips which you can try


This is the view from the back of the stump, I use old fish tins screwed into the wood or tripod. Make sure you can't see them through your lens and the have plenty of small holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain through, then fill them with the favorite seed of the birds you are wanting to photograph. (make sure you keep checking them for rust and sharp edges so the birds feet can't get cut)

Positioning can be everything with your perches and practice makes perfect but I have found having two feeding stations with the perches in the middle works well, also if the birds you are photographing come in flocks like Goldfinches, Redpoll etc then put the perch as close to the feeders (without getting the feeder in the shot) as possible as the birds tend to hop on and off the perch as competition for food grows.

5 - Sit back and wait: Use a hide if you like. I tend to leave my chair in position all year round so the birds get use to it being there. Wear dark clothes, wrap up warm and sit still and wait!

6 - Try to be different: This is something I tried a few weeks back when we were having terrible weather 'Catflap' photography! view through the cat flap straight onto the lawn, an area with a scattering of bird food waiting for Dunnock's & Blackbirds to come into view. You could also try using garden forks as props, loads of things to try when your photographing at ground level!

7 - Lastly: Look around for props and perches on your travels. I'm forever picking up twigs and branches whilst out dog walking. Look in reclamation yards for gate post, chimney pots, anything you think may look good with a bird perched on top. Most of these may also look good in your garden as well!

Here's a link to my page showing more 'Garden Wildlife' photographs.

Below - Called this one 'Squabbling Siblings' taking on the perch above, have fun!

So that's the 2015 Deer Rut done then

Phil ScarlettComment

Another year passes with my favorite 'photography' time of the year being the annual deer rut.  As I'm based in the midlands my usual stomping grounds are through the 800 acres of Bradgate park in Leicestershire, a wonderful wild and colourful place and normally in my opinion the best place in the midlands to see Red and Fallow deer that was until this year..........

Image taking on my 2014 trip to Bradgate

Now maybe I miss timed my trips or was just unlucky but speaking to fellow photographers I don't think so, this year was tough; very tough, where were the deer?

Bradgate has a large area of the park dedicated as a deer sanctuary with no public access, excellent idea, so maybe they were all hiding away from photographers and dog walkers?  This is a possibility in years past this has happened and fewer deer have been seen around the park so maybe?

Now onto my own theory; Bradgate published figures this year that dogs chasing deer had caused up to 30 deaths in only a couple of months, this has to be a major cause along with the annual deer cull (I have no details on culling numbers).

Report here from Leicester Mercury

I've winessed this myself with dog walkers not caring about the welfare of the deer and thinking they have a right to let dogs off leads whatever the consequences, every year most photographers will be able to tell at least one story about dogs chasing or harassing deer.

So 30 deer are dead, some may have been pregnant so that number must be higher, at least one died by running directly into a stone wall! This has to have had an impact on deer numbers this year which could have a knock on affect for years to come

As you can imagine Bradgate have now made it law that all dog owners have to keep dogs on leads, oh wait no they haven't! They have now decided after local news coverage all deer deaths have stopped and they think everything will now be ok. They did implement a ban during June and July whist deer were giving birth but then lifted it.

Next year i think it's time to be looking to visit areas of Derbyshire such as Chatsworth or maybe Wollerton park in Nottingham as an alternative as until Bradgate sort the dog problem out I can't see it going away. Saying that I can't see a year going past without a trip to Bradgate as I love the place so much but we will see.

Oh and by the way I am a dog owner myself..................


Shop now live!!!

shopPhil ScarlettComment

Finally finished working on my new online shop, I've placed some of my favorite photos for sale as prints each with a limited run to keep the content varied. All prints come printed on the finest paper and come direct from me so I get to check them 100% for quality

Also available are HD downloads of different images which just as long as it's for personal use are available to download all for only £1.99. 


Click HERE to view the whole collection


Perfect Photography Clothing

Phil ScarlettComment

Over the years I've searched for decent clothing to take photos in whilst laying on the floor, getting wet, muddy and cold and never really found what I needed, well within my price range. I know the latest outdoor gear from your general hiking shop would do but some of the price tags make you not want to get them dirty or even wet without fear of damage!

Now I need to first let you know that I don't have any links with this company although if they are ever looking for an ambassador them please get in touch! but I recently purchased a pair of trousers from Stealth Gear and they have proven to be exactly what I'm looking for.

Warm, waterproof, designed for photographers in mind and at a really decent price, I'm not saying they look or feel cheap, quite the opposite but if I were to damage them it wouldn't be the end of the world. In fact I liked them so much I brought a second pair straight away.

They also have some decent offers on so a follow on Facebook is worth it.

That's it product review over, I just know a few of you may look at this and think they are exactly what I need hence the blog

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So what does 2015 hold?

Phil ScarlettComment

So indeed what does 2015 hold in my world of photography I ask myself?

This year I want to concentrate on a few more projects in detail, Red Squirrels are a must on my target list. We have a few decent hides set up around the country to view these cute mammals but we also have a few places that get very overlooked where you can photography for free and they are as tame as the Grey Squirrel, watch this space for more details on that one.....

A trip to the Farne Islands is always on the cards, hopefully at least two we will see where the year takes me. The year wouldn't be the same without a night or two in the Old Ship at Seahouses, for a man who likes real ale this is the place to be just beware of a rough sailing the following day!

Little Owls, Foxes and Kingfishers will be a must and I fully intend to spend more time this year with the Red and Fallow Deer at Bradgate park in Leicestershire throughout he whole year not just for the the rut

Last but not least I will keep trying to catch my local Kingfishers again, hopefully perched providing a decent close-up this time........