By Juanjo Segura, Taos, New Mexico: Winter is ideal for bird photography. Birds are wearing their beautiful winter plumage, and they visit feeders more often. That’s because they have a greater need to find food and calories, which I’m happy to provide! Using snow as a white background instead of a diffuser provides great freedom of movement and naturalness, which I hope you’ll see exemplified in my photographs.
The steps to keep in mind are the same for photographing any wild birds that are attracted to your feeder. You choose a well-visited spot, set up the hide and the feeders, and allow time for the birds to get used to feeding comfortably. These images were taken over a 3 month period in the backyard of a house in Arroyo Seco, in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico.
The food I used was seeds for garden birds mixed with black sunflower seeds. But their absolute favorite is a homemade suet, which they love! The suet is simply a mixture of three equal parts of corn flour, lard and peanut butter. I prepare the perches so that I can place the food behind them in a way that it is hidden. I also use a drill to make holes that can be filled with food where I want the birds to investigate.
To use the snow on the ground as a natural white background, the perches should be nestled in the snow itself or close to the ground. To overexposure the snow in action photography you need a good amount of light. The days I prefer are cloudy yet bright. The brighter, without direct light, the better. If you don’t have a super-bright day, you can still use the snow as a white background. But then later, when processing, you will likely have to turn up the whites to get the pure white background.