How To Make The Bird Aviary Look Like Your Backyard

So it’s the dead of winter here in PA and cabin fever has begun to set in. There are a couple of go-to places I visit when the weather is everything but hospitable, the Aviary and the Conservatory. Today I visited the Aviary with my mom and dad, both of them are really into photography as well. I don’t particularly care to photograph wildlife like birds so I decided I would challenge myself in other ways, I will find a way to enjoy any type of photography so long as I’m using a camera.

The challenge I settled on was trying to make a photograph that looked like I was in my backyard instead of indoors. Making a photograph that looks like you took it in your backyard while at the Aviary can be pretty tricky since everything down to the grass is fake.

ISO 100, 85mm, f/2, 1/200 sec.

Step One

Position is everything.  Mind your backgrounds and think about what they will look like as blurry bokeh.  It also helps to think about lighting, does the light look natural or unnatural.  Natural light will usually come from one direction as opposed to unnatural light that comes from all directions and eliminates shadows.

Step Two

Shooting wide open (low f/number) was the second step, I needed to blur the background so viewers would not see the pattern in the wall or the windows.  Using a longer focal length will give you better reach as well as help isolate your subject from the surroundings.  If you use a wide-angle, anything 35mm or wider, you’ll end up having to crop your images to eliminate people, wall, and railings.

Step Three

The final step happens on your computer (or in your darkroom) and it’s called post processing.  The white balance adjustment is paramount to a more natural looking image.  Every facility is different but the one thing they have in common is that their light look anything but natural.  This is an easy fix.

Open your image in Lightroom or whichever post processing program you use and adjust your white balance or “temperature” until it looks more natural.  You can go in either direction, cooler will make it look like “blue hour” or that time right after the sun has set while warmer will make your images look like they were taken as the sun was setting or rising.  I prefer a warmer hue as you can tell from the images.

Head over to the Facebook Page and upload an image you took indoors that looks like you took it outdoors and see if we can tell.  Don’t forget to follow PhotolisticLife by entering your email in the box on the right labeled “Subscribe”.

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