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  • Matt Kendall: FujiXplorer

5 ways to keep your photography out of lockdown

Don't let quarantine shut down your creativity and put a stop to your photography. There is still plenty that you can do to keep you camera active and your photography ticking over.


Here are 5 ways you can continue your photography and stay camera active during lockdown.


1. Invite nature round to your place: create a wildlife sanctuary at home


You don't have to venture out into the wild or go for treks with your camera to capture great photos of wildlife or nature.


Why not make your garden a wildlife haven and invite them round to yours instead?


Spend time turning your garden into a wildlife sanctuary so you can capture amazing photos from your own home.


Even the simple addition of a bird feeder or two with different seeds, or a window box with some flowers in it could bring wildlife to your door and help you capture some brilliant photos.


Encourage birds into your garden:



Here are some basic tips to help get you started with encouraging birds to your garden and for capturing great photos


- Food: Ensure there is plentiful food with a range seeds and food stuffs for them to eat

- Water: Provide a source of clean water in an easily accessible pool.

- Make them feel at home: Put up nest boxes to encourage different types of birds. Just make sure that you put these out of the reach of cats!


Fill any feeders you put up a couple of times per week rather than each day or the birds may become too reliant on you for food. If you want to stop feeding them at any point then do this gradually so they have time to find alternative sources of food elsewhere.


Country Living Guide to Bird Food and Feeders:

Take a look at this fantastic guide to the best bird food, feeders and ways to encourage birdlife to your back garden;

https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/gardens/a22059978/bird-feeders-complete-guide-food-how-to-make-where-buy/



Photographing birds in your garden:


Below are some quick basic tips to remember when trying to capture images of birds in your garden:


- Use a telephoto lens: Keep your distance physically - but use your camera to get up close as birds are easily spooked (300mm+ reach is ideal).

- Use a fast shutter speed and a tripod: A fast shutter speed is needed to freeze movement (especially with smaller birds) and so a shutter speed of around 1000/2000+ is ideal. A tripod will help stabilise your camera to provide sharp images too.

- Time of day: Early morning or dusk is great for photographing birds. This is when they are most active and when the best natural light is available as it is softer/diffused, less harsh and provides a more pleasing image

- Be patient: It takes a little time for birds to flock to your garden and be aware of the efforts you have made, but it will be worth it when they do. Capturing great wildlife photos and taking amazing shots takes patience and some trial/error.

- Remote trigger: If possible, try using a remote trigger to press the shutter button. Wireless ones are best so you can set the camera up focused on the perch or feeder ready, and press the shutter from indoors without disturbing them. Wired ones will also be just fine if wireless isn't an option.

- Camera noise: Turn your shutter noise off or down if possible. Many cameras now allow you to silence the shutter or turn down the volume. Silence it if possible, or turn it down as low as possible as shutter noises can spook and disturb a bird making it more difficult to get the shot you want.

- Props and Perches: Put interesting props out in your garden which you want the birds to land on as a perch. Place them near feeders and think about what is in the background so that when you take your photographs the background is clean and the focus is on the bird.


You could try using a clamp to attach a self made perch such as a branch near the feeders to encourage them to land somewhere you have set up specifically with the best background and composition in mind.


Make your garden a haven for birds - a photo I took of two birds at a feeder



Encourage insects and little creatures into your new wildlife sanctuary:


It isn't only birds you may want to encourage into your garden. Why not try to use plants and flowers to welcome an array of interesting bugs and insects that make great photographic subjects.


One of the best ways to take brilliant photographs of insects and bugs is to use a macro lens for your camera. These can be quite expensive but produce incredible up close images, and allow you to focus more closely on their eyes or any interesting features they may have.


If you don't have or can't afford a macro lens then don't worry! The photo of the bee below was taken on my 16-55mm lens with a lot of patience. Try different angles and perspectives with the lenses you already have rather than just front on over directly above them.


To photograph bugs and insects you need patience. You can't direct them so you may need to wait a while before they land in the perfect spot or do something interesting. Their unpredictability is part of the fun!


Improve your gardens habitat to encourage bees and other little creatures - you'll get great photos and do your bit for nature!



Flowers:


Flowers are great subjects for photography in their own right and can be found both outdoors in the garden and within the home. They also encourage insects so win win!


Different flowers and plants will bloom at different times of the year so get advice online or from a garden centre as to which plants will encourage what you want in your garden at the right time of year.


Colourful plants can be used to provide a great pop of colour to backgrounds when photographing other wildlife too. Perhaps think about your garden and plan out where you want to place certain flowers or plants and create "creature corners" for different types of bugs and insects to call home.


Flower power - this photo I took at Hever Castle shows just how colourful a garden can be!




2. Practice a technique or skill you are not good at, or learn a new photographic skill altogether


With much more time at home, it is a perfect opportunity to get on YouTube and websites to learn a new skill, or learn how to perfect something you want to be better at.


It could be improving editing processes, improving the knowledge you have of your own camera and its functions or honing a photography skill.


8 free photography courses and content to keep you busy during quarantine!

This great article from Digital Camera World announced that Nikon, Leica, Fujifilm, Laowa, DxO, Sennheiser and others are offering free material for creatives during COVID-19 lockdown.


Read the article via the link below and take advantage of all the freebies to boost your skills and knowledge during lockdown!


https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/news/best-free-photography-courses-and-content


Share your skills and knowledge


Why not try and create video tutorials so that you can share your skills and knowledge with others?






3. Update your website and social media/blog


At this time, people are finding being forced indoors tough. Everyone, not just photographers are looking for inspiration and for sources of positivity. More people are spending time online and on social media in order to find something to occupy them or provide a much needed boost.


Many photographers and creatives will go quiet on social media and their online presence will reduce due to a lack of content. Use the tips in this post to continue creating and sharing - and if you have a website, social media or blog then update them! Post some of your photography and share it with everyone. You will be surprised at how much of an impact it can have to those that see them.


Been on a trip before lockdown and got some old photos that you've not shared? Got a blog post you could write? Get to your computer and share them with the world!


Get to those photos you've not yet edited and share them on your social media, blog or website - give others a boost with your content!




4. Have a photographic de-tox


My computer is full of photo imports from various trips and days out, and my editing software libraries are bursting at the seams with thousands of old images or those I will never use. Digital photography allows you to snap as many photos as your memory cards can take without worry.


This takes up valuable space on your hard drives and can slow down your computer/editing software. This is the same with camera memory cards which have photos which have been downloaded and backed up onto a computer but have not been deleted from the card itself.


Log on, declutter, and free up some space for future projects.


Five stage photography detox plan


1. Declutter editing software libraries: Go onto your editing software and decide which photos you wish to keep and which ones can be deleted to free up space. Concentrate first on any photos that are blurry/out of focus or have poor composition and technical merit.


2. Free up space on memory cards: Ensure all of your camera memory cards have been backed up keeping only those photos you really want - then format them to clear up space


3. Reorganise your computer desk top and folders: Create specific folders like "landscapes", "flowers" or specifically named location or trip folders so you can organise and catalogue images into these, rather than have them all sat together in one folder or on your desktop.


4. Back up photos onto external hard drives and cloud services: If you have a cloud back up and external hard drives/USB's, back your photos up onto these once organised. This will free up space from your main computer and make it run quicker. Ensure you back up to at least two different locations for peace of mind.


Companies like Smugmug are fantastic cloud storage services, and external hard drives like those mentioned here will provide storage solutions to help declutter your photography world.


5. Relax! Sit back with a cup of tea feeling more organised - one of these steps had to involve some chill out time!






5. Plan a post lockdown photography bucket list


Lockdown might mean you can't visit all of the places you want to now, but there will be a time when you can adventure with your camera again.


Use this time to plan a single epic camera adventure, or simply write out a small list of places you'd like to visit with your camera once lockdown is over.


Some inspiration for camera days out can be found here:


National Trust Days Out: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out


Wildlife Trust Days Out: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/visit


Skomer Island: https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-day-trip/




Follow me on instagram at @fujixplorer and check out my other blog posts at www.fujixplorer.co.uk


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