NEBRASKAland June 2016

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 73 of 83

74 NEBRASKAland • JUNE 2016 I t's no secret. One of the easiest ways to attract birds within your camera's reach is to appeal to a feature of their anatomies – their stomachs. Common photos of birds on backyard feeders are effective at capturing details of a species' characteristics and beauty; they don't always evoke a sense of the wild, however. In order to capture photos of birds in a more natural setting, a photographer can position feeders near areas where avian visitors will perch on branches nearby. Placing feeders above shrubs and cut branches is a way to better your chances at getting photos that appear to be from deep in the woods. An even better way to help boost the natural appeal of bird photos is to construct a feeder from natural materials that look good in a photo: for me, it's a log with a few holes in it. Elevated by a simple inexpensive four-foot rebar fence post, the 15-inch log provides the appearance of a natural perch in tightly cropped photos. By choosing a log with attractive bark, in my case from a cherry tree, additional appeal is added to the photo. Shallow holes atop the log, drilled from spade bits, are effective for holding feed and attracting birds to the scene. A smaller hole at the bottom, drilled about halfway through the log, allows the makeshift feeder to rest on the 3 ⁄8-inch rebar post. The skinny rebar also poses a challenge for pesky squirrels to climb. A photographer can reposition this feeder to any location in the yard to vary backgrounds, capitalize on places of concealment, and adapt to lighting situations. On this day, the camera with telephoto lens are on a tripod to my left, fixed to a view of the feeder, while I write this story and respond to emails with a laptop computer – keeping watch of the feeder from the corner of my eye. Multitasking has rarely been so fun, especially when the birds are cooperating. ■ Justin Haag of Chadron enjoys photographing the wildlife and landscapes of the Panhandle while serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland. Bettering Bird Photos, Naturally To make bird photos appear to be more natural, it helps to provide dinner and set the stage. By Justin Haag PHOTOS BY JUSTIN HAAG p l p p a a d a d f p i c t f r o h c The author used a spade bit to drill three shallow holes in a log for holding feed. Another smaller hole was drilled on the bottom of the log so the makeshift feeder and photo prop could be perched on a rebar fence post. As long as the holes are concealed from the camera's view, bird photos appear more natural than those taken of retail feeders. A male downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is one of the many birds that have visited the makeshift feeder designed for photography. The attractive bark of a cherry tree adds to the photo's appeal.

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