We all start somewhere...

In my case, it was in my backyard. I took photo, after photo, after photo of the squirrels and birds in my backyard.  I heartily recommend the practice.  It has been a great way to work my way around the camera's knobs, buttons and functions. Backyard photography is an ideal place to practice all the new photography information I cull from my readings, the internet and blogosphere. Every time I learn something new, I pick up the camera, walk to the back door and take pictures using the information I just acquired. 

Notice the dark background behind the woodpecker's head?  Perfect example of bad design elements.

Notice the dark background behind the woodpecker's head?  Perfect example of bad design elements.

One principle of wildlife photography is to capture the "catch light" in the eye(s) of the respective critter. (click on bold letters for link) The woodpecker (above) is from one of my days spent at the back door clicking away while I tried to capture the catch light.  Well...it's okay to capture the catch light but you have to be able to distinguish the bird from the background!

Design lesson learned - the bird should be on the other side of the feeder. More appropriately, any object usually looks better against a contrasting background. 

 

It helps to have critters that will "pose" for you.  Timing is everything. Timing takes practice, too.

It helps to have critters that will "pose" for you.  Timing is everything. Timing takes practice, too.

I like this squirrel picture.  Catch light? Check. Positioned against the background colors so he stands out? Check.  Plus, he is involved in a "gesture"; he's stretched out, hanging by his back feet and tail.  And I'm pretty sure he's laughing at our inept attempts to secure the birdseed-peanut butter-pinecone.

I just keep clicking away.  New equipment to master? Out the back door, I go. Working with traveling daylight?  Out the back door. New techniques?  Out...well, I think you get the idea. I find these backyard practices invaluable.  Everything I learn or master in my backyard translates into better photographs of other people, places, things.

Bottom LIne:  My backyard is my classroom and my laboratory.  It is a safe place to try new equipment, practice techniques...and I like the critters.