The secrets to successful photos

The hour of your Birdwatch is the perfect time to get snapping and with a bit of preparation beforehand, you could capture some fantastic images of your garden birds.

The man behind the camera

Ben Andrew is an award-winning photographer and a columnist for Nature’s Home, the RSPB’s member magazine. His first success in photography came when he won the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust Photo of the Year competition with a picture of a grey heron. Since then, Ben has gone on to win several other similar competitions, including the Countryfile Calendar competition with his “Happy Hedgehog” image. Ben’s work has now led him to become the RSPB’s picture researcher, managing RSPB Images. 

Here he shares some of his top tips to help you capture perfect photos during your Birdwatch.

Ben Andrew

Set up perches

Give your garden birds some natural-looking perches to sit on close to your feeders, so that you can photograph them in a pleasing way. Make sure you choose a perch that is the right size for the birds you’d like to attract and also think about the background. An uncluttered and natural coloured background works well. You can always move the perches around or change them for more variety.

Bird feeder and perch

Provide a drinking pool

Rather than using a standard bird bath, why not build a reflection pool instead? It’s quite easy to set up a pool that birds will happily drink from and bathe in and that will provide you with beautiful reflections for your photographs. You could try placing a large, shallow plant tray on a table so that it’s at eye level (when seated!) and make it look natural by using pebbles, sticks, mosses, ferns and other natural foliage around the edge of the pool.

Robin by drinking pool

Capture interesting behaviour

Birds will often squabble over prime feeding perches on the bird feeders, which provides the perfect opportunity to capture birds in flight and birds fighting. The key is to be prepared for these sorts of squabbles: make sure you use a fast shutter speed to capture the action sharply but don’t be afraid to be creative. A slow shutter speed can also show the dramatic movement of the birds.

Blue tits fighting