Break out your camera and get ready to snap away! Birds & Blooms magazine invites readers to submit pictures of their beautiful backyard birds, butterflies and flowers for a chance to win $1,000 for its annual Backyard Photo Contest. The contest gives participants a chance to share their garden wonderlands with other B&B readers all while competing for the grand prize.
If you’re not a world class photographer, no problem! Birds & Blooms’ team of top photographers has tips for making your entry picture perfect:
• Creative Compositions:
o A basic photo technique that can immediately improve your picture is to consider the point of view. In most cases, it’s preferable to try to get at eye-level with the subject. This results in better eye contact and a greater sense of intimacy.
o Place important elements off center to keep the image from becoming static. Look for leading lines, or shoot on an angle to add a sense of movement.
o Try to avoid a messy background unless it adds to your image. Otherwise, it can be very distracting.
• Technical Tips Made Easy:
o Learn how to use shutter speed to your advantage. It takes a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second to stop a living creature that is standing still. It takes 1/250th of a second to stop something that’s walking or a flower moving in the breeze. The faster the speed, the more movement is stopped.
o Tripods can be cumbersome in flower beds, so use a monopod instead. Monopods are mobile and allow you to get closer to subjects. Plus, they keep you from damaging surrounding flowers and foliage.
o The best light is in the first two hours of the morning and the last two of the evening. But if you’re forced to shoot in the harsh light of the day or on a heavy overcast day, simply use a fill flash. Set your flash at a setting of -1 to -2 stops. This will help remove shadows on your subject.
• Be Prepared:
o Keep on the lookout for birds doing something interesting for your photos: feeding young, eating berries, or bathing, for instance.
o Create vignettes of garden art and flowers in your backyard where birds will land to complete the picture. When situating them, keep in mind where the light will fall at different times of day.
o Like many of us, some birds have a favorite “easy chair” or a particular spot they frequent. Learn where it is and start planning your shots accordingly.
• Keep it Fun:
o Take a picture of your garden every Saturday to document how your flowers change through the season. Then you can share a digital scrapbook with friends and family. Seeing how plants grew – or didn’t – each year will also help you plan your garden for next year.
o Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Who hasn’t looked at a picture and thought, what was I thinking? It’s impossible to know exactly how every detail will turn out in the final picture.
o Don’t give up on your shot. For instance, if you’re trying to capture a butterfly or dragonfly at a particular plant and it flies away, just stand still and wait. Chances are it will be back, and you’ll be ready to get your shot.
The Birds & Blooms Backyard Photo Contest contains three separate categories: birds, flowers and butterflies. Entries are due on or before September 1st. For a full list of entry instructions, visit www.birdsandblooms.com/Contests/2014-Backyard-photo-contest-rules.