Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photo Feeder Stand For Better Photography

Photo Feeder Stand For Better Photographs

It’s been far too long since my last blog. Hopefully this latest effort will give you something that you will find useful. I’ve gotten a lot of favorable comments on my Flickr Photos recently along with questions about how I manage to get them. Below, I’ll tell you how to make a copy of one of my favorite photo accessories – an inexpensive and very useful stand that I use to get some of the best photos. The total cost of this stand should be comfortably under $20 and should take less than an hour to make. I recently built one in about 15 minutes (not counting the trip to Home Depot to buy the supplies and a stop at McDonald’s for lunch).

Let’s start with a few photos of the stand that I will describe:


This is made from 3/4 inch PVC pipe that comes in 10 foot lengths at most home-improvement stores like Home Depot. The stand sits on a rectangular base that is 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep. It is very stable and weighs just a few pounds at most. The upright portion is 4 feet high with a lower crossbar 1 foot off the ground. Just above the lower crossbar, you will see a T Joint on each side. These are 1 inch joints that hold various perches and can be moved up and down as I will describe later.

The only tools that you will need are a small saw (hack-saw or jig saw) to cut the pipe and a power drill. The pipe cuts very easily and goes together easily. You could glue the joints, but I would recommend against it. The pieces fit together snugly and you might want to take the unit apart for storage or to make minor adjustments in the future. The list of parts is as follows:
       o  3 - 10 foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe (standard weight, not heavy duty)
       o  6 – 3/4 inch PVC 90 degree elbows
       o  6 – 3/4 inch PVC “T” Joints
       o  2 –1 inch PVC “T” Joints
       o  2 nails or screws about 2 inches long

Cut the 10 foot lengths as follows:
       o  2 – 3 foot lengths
       o  3 – 2 foot lengths
       o  4 – 1.5 foot lengths
       o  2 – 1 foot lengths
       o  2 – 11.5 inch lengths
       o  1  - 8 inch length

Assemble the base using 2 of the 2 foot lengths, the 4 1.5 foot lengths, 4 of the elbows and 2 of the 3/4 inch “T” joiners. Turn the “T’s” so that they point up when the base is on the ground. Put 1 foot lengths into each “T” joined with another “T” and a 3 foot length. Slide one of the 1 inch “T” pieces over each 3 foot pipe. Use 90 degree elbows and the last 2 foot length to complete the top. Use the remaining 5 pieces to form the bottom cross-member by connecting the two 11.5 inch sections with a “T” and placing the 8 inch section into the “T” and capping it with the last “T” piece.

Drill a series of holes in the two 3 foot lengths of pipe as shown in the photo below using a drill bit just a little larger than the nails. Drill corresponding holes through the top side of the 1 inch “T” pieces. This allows you to position the larger “T” pieces at various heights with a two foot branch for the birds to land on, as you will see in the later photos. Use the nails or screws to hold the 1 inch "T's" in place:


Now, you’re almost ready to go! The bottom cross piece with the 8 inch section coming off it is perfect for balancing a platform feeder of some sort to hold seed for the birds. I like to use the white top of an old bird bath which not only holds seed, it also reflect light up to the birds on the perch to fill in shadows and provides wonderful light!

I further modified my platform by drilling a hole in the birdbath top which allows for a small cup to hold extra treats like mealworms for Bluebirds. I made this holder by cutting a 1 inch section off the bottom of a pill bottle and taping it to a 1 foot length of a coat hanger wire. I keep it at the right height using a clamp.

I change the height of the branch based on two factors. I want to photograph the birds at something close to (or slightly below) eye-level and I want a nice background. I use a blind for most of my shots where I sit in a chair, so I generally place the perches between two and three feet high. I set up my blind with the sun at my back and place the stand in front of me. I move it closer for small birds like Hummingbirds or Chickadees and a little further away for larger birds, depending on their size.

So, let’s take a look at some of the shots. The first photo is of a Bluebird feeding a baby. The cup with the mealworms is just below the frame, The background is green(ish) lawn:

The next shot is another Bluebird, but this time I placed a basket of flowers on a stand about 10 feet behind the perch for a nice effect:

For the Cardinal shot, I moved the perch to one of the higher settings to use a tree that was turning yellow in the fall for the background. The Cardinals often stop on the perch before dropping to the feeder:

For the next shot, I placed the perch at a height that used some of the tall brown grass that you can see in the first photo of the stand as a background:

A Nuthatch just above the feedeer using another basket of flowers for a background:

For this Hummingbird shot, I attached a feeder to the branch which I raised to eye-level. I tied the feeder down securely so that I wouldn’t turn or move and placed another pot of flowers in the background. Again, I put the empty bird bath below to provide fill light to the bird:

For this final shot, I hung a peanut butter-stuffed pinecone from a hook on the top crosspiece and used a pine tree as the background:

Thanks for stopping by! You can see more of my work at:


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