Photography is often thought of in terms of exotic locations in faraway countries and mountains of expensive gear.  For the non- professionals though it is very different.  The local park, zoo and occasional trip away are far more likely locations to end up with your camera poised.

There is another location that is all too often overlooked by the budding photographer; the humble backyard. There are almost limitless opportunities for an interesting shot in your own backyard.  If you are lucky enough to own a large parcel of land with numerous native trees and shrubs, then bird photography becomes a real option.  It will give you the freedom to practice as often and as much as you wish, to experiment with bird hides and to become familiar with common species.  Invaluable preparation for your birding trip.

No matter your type of yard, macro photography is certain to be an option.  Insects abound, along with patterns, both natural and man-made.  The subjects for macro shots are everywhere if you look.  Your backyard is ideal for this type of photography as it allows you to become familiar with your equipment.  Tripods and flashes are often used and setting them up in your yard ensures no interference from outside sources.

Praying MantisCredit: Steven Pike

Flowers make popular subjects and most backyards have a few.  Macro photography methods are often used when photographing flowers but it is not always necessary.  Experiment with different angles.  Some impressive images have resulted from different angles on a familiar subject.

The backyard is also a good spot to try in-flight shots of birds and insects.  You can set your equipment up at your leisure and position yourself comfortably for the shot.

If you enjoy pet photography, the backyard is an obvious place to start.  I know of a photographer who photographs pets almost exclusively.  Although he has all the studio gear, he prefers using the customers backyard, if suitable, to take advantage of the natural light.  Of course success relies heavily on just how co-operative the pets are.

Your yard can also be used as a location for portraiture photography.  Wedding photographers use outdoor settings often.  If the light is good, then use it.  Natural light is the best there is.  If necessary though, additional lighting and screens can be set up in the yard to enhance your shots.  Once again, your yard is the perfect training ground.

Getting down, or up, to the same level as your subject can be very important, especially with macro and bird photography.  It may be necessary to lie down on your belly amongst the bushes, or to balance precariously on a branch or fence.  This can all be undertaken painlessly and without embarrassment in your own yard.

Exotic locations and spectacular landscapes are not the photographer’s bread and butter.  If you aspire to travel to such places to take such grand images on a regular basis, it will be pointless to return with out of focus or incorrectly exposed or composed shots.  You must have an extremely good knowledge of your equipment and you must be very comfortable with it.

Your own backyard is the perfect place to practice.  The shots are there if you look.  Think of it as a photographic assignment and set out to take a variety of good quality images.  Use all your available equipment and experiment.  The results may surprise you.