Over the last year I’ve suggested that you lay in Bluebell woods, take boat trips to offshore islands and confront Britain’s largest land mammals whilst they are losing their minds. I think that maybe now its winter we should take it easy, stay at home and wait for the wildlife to come to us! And given that it's cold and hungry and that we should be helping out with food it isn’t difficult to make that happen.
Your garden is the best studio you can get and if you don’t let the familiarity of your visitors breed any contempt they can offer manageable, close up, cheap, colourful and creative opportunities for great pictures all from the comfort of your lounge/kitchen/garage. Birds are our main focus and if you feed them then you’ll have a range of species busy at your feeders all day long. The problem is that those feeders are designed to deliver food, not look good in photos so you need to import some props. Many photographers search their local woods for attractive moss covered logs which act as more natural perches and placed near the food source they are sure to work. But you can go further by building sets, pieces of anything, old churches, rusty and decaying old cars, and ancient trees have all been replicated in my space and a range of species tempted into position with titbits. And it's not just birds, Squirrels, Foxes and Badgers have all be coaxed into prime predetermined places all made to look like somewhere ‘not my garden’! Your imagination and your wife/husband/parents tolerance are the only real limits.
Think about the light and the background when you are building or placing your props and also where you and your camera will be positioned. Shooting through an open window rather than through glass is preferable on the image quality front so you might want to buy a few yards of thick curtain fabric to hang down and which you can cut a slit for your lens to poke through. This will hide you and give your subjects more confidence too.
If you have a pond then you might think about building a temporary hide alongside it and trying to get some nice reflections of drinkers or bathers – go for low late sunshine for the best images and remember to get down to the subjects level. It might be uncomfortable but you are only a few steps away from a cup of tea and the arm chair and you can recover while you check your results on the computer. Happy snapping!