Posts Tagged With: photography tips

7 Tips for Photographing Urban Wildlife

tips for photographing wildlife

For everyone with a camera.

Whether you live in the city, or the suburbs, wildlife is plentiful—and you don’t have to look further than your own backyard to find it. Your backyard is the perfect setting to hone your wildlife photography skills.

Think big, and small, when photographing urban wildlife. Birds, squirrels, humming birds, butterflies, bugs and bees are all excellent subjects.

Here are my 7 tips for photographing urban wildlife in your own backyard:

photographing wildlife

Give them what they want.
{Sony a290 DSLR, 110mm, f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/200 sec)

  1. BAIT AND HOOK. Create an inviting environment in your backyard to attract critters you want to photograph. Stock bird feeders with seeds to attract common birds in your region. Create a hummingbird garden by planting fragrant flowers and hang a nectar feeder to lure these colorful birds. By doing this, you get a two-for-one advantage. Butterflies are also attracted to fragrant and colorful flowers, as well as rotted fruit. Water is essential to all animals—consider installing a bird bath in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get close to bees collecting pollen from flowers. (I have never been stung by a bee that I was photographing…I may have just cursed myself!) And, to attract squirrels, lots of seeds, peanuts, and dried corn on the cobs are excellent “bait”.


    Patience, patience, patience.
    {Sony a290 DSLR, 200mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec}

  2. PATIENCE GRASSHOPPER. Sometimes you get lucky. You have your camera in your hand and the opportunity to shoot a bird or other critter strikes. Ah, perfection. But, most times, patience and persistence is what wins the game. Set up an opportunity to shoot urban wildlife, and wait for the subject to come to you.


    Stay still and quiet.
    {Taken with Canon Power Shot a570 point-and-shoot camera}

  3. LAY LOW. Wildlife, especially birds, can be skittish around humans, so hiding out of sight, or just sitting still and quiet is essential. Camouflage couldn’t hurt. I purposely hung my bird feeder off the back patio within sight vantages of two windows in my house. I can easily shoot from the windows with minimal interference of the birds and squirrels.


    {Taken with Canon Power Shot a570 point-and-shoot camera}

  4. ROCK YOUR CAMERA. Don’t think you need expensive and fancy camera equipment to shoot amazing photos. Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR it is essential that you know how to use your camera. I have shot many critters with my point-and-shoot camera and the photos have turned out spectacular. That’s because I have learned the capabilities of that camera and know how to use them to my advantage. (The bee on the flower above was shot with a point-and-shoot, and I was really close to that bee!) Now, if you have a DSLR camera, a wise investment is a telephoto lens. This will allow you to keep your distance from your subject, isolate your subject through framing, and still achieve sharp focus.

    photographing wildlife in your backyard

    Look ’em in the eye.
    {Song a290 DSLR, 200mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec)

  5. FOCAL POINT. Focus on the eyes of your subject—always. This is a golden rule, not just when photographing animals but humans as well.

    praying mantis

    Praying Mantis on side of house.

  6. SHOOT FAST AND OFTEN. Wildlife moves fast, so should you. What I mean by that is you should shoot fast and often, but avoid sudden movement as not to scare your subject. Don’t be afraid to take the shot because you may think it is not be “good enough”. If your camera has a continuous shooting mode, use it. You never know what shot will become your prize winner!
    focal point before

    Original Shot.

    cropped photo

    Cropped version of above photo in post production.

  7. COMPOSITION. Remember to apply the composition rules, such as rules of thirds. Great composition is what takes a photo from an average snapshot to a visual statement. Pay attention to the background. Try to avoid distracting backgrounds that will take away from your subject. Although, sometimes the background can’t be helped…it is what it is. Take the shot anyway. Don’t discount cropping in post production. The top original photo applies the rules of thirds and is good composition wise; but the bottom cropped photo is more interesting and detailed. This can transform a good photo to one that will impress your friends and make you look like a photographic genius. It will be our little secret.


    Have fun and be curious. Cicada found in backyard.

BONUS #8 FINAL TIP: Look, you can Google this subject and get more than 7 million results. I gave you my seven tips above, but there really is one more thing you should always do…HAVE FUN! Because if you’re not having fun behind your camera then why do it?

Got some amazing urban wildlife shots? I’d love to see them. Leave me a link in the comment section and I’ll stop by your blog. Happy Shooting.


Please remember: Unless otherwise noted, all photos and designs are created by me. Pin it if you like it, but please do not copy it. All rights reserved. Photos ©Jeri Stunkard.

Categories: Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A little bit of everything

Finally, I got out-of-town and into the mountains I love! This past weekend was possibly the last chance to see the Aspens in all their glory of gold and orange. Taking the advice of a friend we headed up Hwy 119 from Boulder to Nederland, Colorado.

fall photography

I posted over on my travel blog about hiking Boulder Falls, Rainbow Lakes and Aspen peeping.  I hope that you will join me over there!


I went back to Denver Botanic Gardens on Monday and tried out a few more photography tricks that I learned in my workshop last week.

photoraphy tricks

Generally I use a Circular Polarizer Filter to bring out the brilliant fall colors in leaves or punch up a blue sky. But, did you know you can use it to bring down the glare on leaves, water or water droplets? I didn’t. As you can see from the left to the right image above, the effect can be subtle but well worth using.


My favorite part of the Denver Botanic Gardens? Monet Pond. I could sit here all day. The water looks like a black mirror. Right now the Gardens have a special exhibit: Kizuna West Meet East. I used a polarizing filter to cut the glare on the water and punch up the contrast.

water lilies

Water lilies at Monet Pond.


Water feature at Anna’s Overlook.


View of Kizuna bamboo installation at Anna’s Overlook.

“Kizuna, meaning “the bonds between people” in Japanese, celebrates the profound influence Japan has had on the West with a presentation of large site-specific art installations in bamboo by internationally-known artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik.” ~Denver Botanic Gardens

The exhibit runs through November 4, 2012.

Categories: Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

tell the whole story this season

Before I was a scrapbooker I was a journaler (is that even a word?). To me scrapbooking is more about the story behind the photographs than the photographs themselves. What was going on in that moment that made me pick up the camera? What is the meaning behind the photo? Sure, I have my share of “snapshots” in my scrapbooks. The pictures I have taken of the girls riding their bikes or playing in the sand box…they’re cute photos of the kids, but there’s no deep meaning behind them. It’s the other photos and journaling that fill my scrapbooks that are the most treasured. The ones that tell a story of who I am and who my family is today. It’s the spiritual significance or lessons-learned stories that hold meaning to me.

This season, I challenge you to tell the whole story.

Each holiday offers special photo opportunities you don’t want to miss. Of course, opening presents on Christmas Day or the family gathering on Thanksgiving are important life events. But, this year try to capture the meaning of the holiday season. Think about what you cherish most about the holidays and capture these images to preserve for future generations. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking as the holiday season fast approaches:

Autumn: Fall is hands-down my favorite season. The crisp air, the falling leaves, the pumpkin patch, the color orange, I can dig out my boots from the closet again, sweaters, Aspen hunting. Think about what you love (or hate) about autumn. Why do you feel the way you do? What childhood memories does fall remind you of? Pick up your camera and capture the sights of fall. Make a photo collage or journal your thoughts for future generations.

Thanksgiving: Before your family digs into the Thanksgiving feast, capture your relatives gathered in the kitchen, Uncle Gene stealing a taste of stuffing or Grandpa taking a nap on the sofa after dinner. Ask each person to write down what they are most thankful for this season and document it on a scrapbook page. Ask Grandma what her favorite story or memory from childhood is. Journal stories of your family for the great-grand kids. What favorite dishes has your family always prepared? What memorable stories get told every year? Scrapbook (or journal) them on a page complete with the recipe, photos and why they are a family tradition.

Hanukkah: It’s the Festival of Lights, so don’t overwhelm your photos with a flash. Try turning off your camera’s flash and use a tripod to steady your camera to capture the glow of Hanukkah candles or your little ones standing around the menorah. What tradition does your family share during this special time? Capture all the excitement and meaning on a scrapbook page or journal. And more importantly, what does this special time of year mean to you?

Christmas: Holiday lights make for a great photo opportunity. Again, try turning off your camera’s flash and using a tripod to steady your camera to capture the twinkling effect of Christmas tree lights. Also try shooting outdoor lights at twilight instead of at dark. You’ll get an ambient light effect from the sky to help capture the details of the colorful lights. Do you have special ornaments that have been passed down through generations or do you buy new ornaments every year? Document these treasured heirlooms on a scrapbook page.

Spiritual: The holidays aren’t all about gifts and food. It’s also about spiritual traditions. Do you take time out of the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and parties to attend church, pray, meditate, or take a peaceful walk to clear your mind? These, too, are worthy of a page in your scrapbook/journal.

New Year’s Eve:
The excitement of a new year…and new resolutions. What are your resolutions? Scrap/journal them and next year look back to see which ones you kept and which ones you’ll try again.

Finally, don’t forget to zoom in on the little details that make your celebrations special, such as food, decorations, toys, leaves or the glow of candles.

Get your creative juices flowing as a journalist and think beyond your children opening presents on Christmas morning. Think about your life, your story and what you want future generations to know about you. Who knows, you just might learn a little something about you and your family.

Challenge yourself to tell the whole story this holiday season.

Categories: Christmas, Digi Scrapbooking, Life everyday, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: