The colors of fall make for incredible images. In this particular shot, the orange leaves on a tree in the backyard provide a unique and beautiful backdrop for a simple bird picture. I took this picture as part of a homework assignment I gave to a photo class I am teaching. Directly outside our dining room window are several bird feeders frequented by chickadees and other small feathered things. The first thing I did to get this shot was decide I wanted this picture. Before I snapped a single picture I created in my mind the picture I wanted to capture. With the planning process successfully completed I then went about the process of putting in pixels what I had conceived in my cranium. The first thing I did was determine the minimal shutter speed I could use. I knew it had to be fast, since these birds never sit still and pose. I started with a shutter speed of 1/200. Since it was a cloudy day, I had to bump my ISO up to 400 to grab the light. I went ahead and opened my shutter wide, just to make sure everything was nicely blurred way back there, which on this zoom lens was f/5.6. Those settings ended up being the ones I used when I took this shot, though I made some minor changes in other shots. The other essential part of this was my location. I intentionally positioned myself about 15 feet away from this hook, with a bird feeder right over my head and bird seed strategically strewn on the ground in an effort to get a bird to pause on the hook long enough for some good shots. I carefully aligned myself vertically so the background would be a solid mass of orange (I sat down). After that, it was a matter of waiting for the birds to show up and be cooperative enough to pose on the nicely curved hook.
Three things I think really make this picture work. First, I knew what I was shooting for. I had an image in mind and then went out and did it. I did not just snap at the birds as they did their thing. I did as much as I could to make this picture, so that when the bird perched on the hook for a couple seconds I was ready to get the right picture. The second element is the solid orange background. The fall leaves provided the color, my task was to get positioned correctly and keep the aperture open enough to get the clean blur. The last element is the curve. That simple shape running across the bottom of the picture gives some interest and pizazz (in my estimation) to the shot. Know what you are shooting for, and you just might surprise yourself by getting it.