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!