Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 29, 2009

White-crowned Sparrow in Desert Broom

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, style — richditch @ 6:16 pm
White-crowned Sparrow in Desert Broom

White-crowned Sparrow in Desert Broom

A lot of beginning bird photographers get frustrated because they think they need to get  a tight shot of the bird, and eliminate everything else from the composition. This requires a lot of optical power (i.e., a long telephoto lens), a large bird (why herons and egrets are such popular subjects), and a cooperative bird (so they can get very close). This often causes beginners to crop too much (to get small subjects bigger in the final frame) or to clone out a lot of branches that clutter the composition. When that fails to give satisfactory results a backyard set-up (to lure birds in close to a positioned perch) is often the next step.

But if you can learn to see beyond just the bird, there’s a lot of potential to do things differently. My preference is to show my subjects in appropriate habitat, and that allows me to keep the bird at smaller scale in the frame and use the surroundings as part of the overall composition.

This juvenile White-crowned Sparrow is shown feeding on Desert Broom at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ. For me, it is the setting that makes this image as we are not accustomed to seeing the sparrow “buried” in a cloud of soft white fluff. The sparrow is only a small part of the image, but it is the focal point for the viewer because its dark tones contrast strongly with the fluff.

D200, 300/2.8 plus 2x, ISO 200, 1/80th second at f/11, November 24, 2006



  1. Richard,

    This is one of my favorites images from your body of work and the reasons it is a favorite are the things you outlined about this image.

    There is some thing incredible ablout seeing this bird in the cloud of fluff.

    Comment by Mia — January 29, 2009 @ 6:31 pm

  2. This is a wonderful shot Richard – I too like less tight shots – maybe comes from my tendency to not want to disturb the subject, so I don’t try to get too close. As a wildlife biologist, I also enjoy seeing birds within their natural habitat. This shot even transends that and delves into the emotional. Great job.

    Comment by Jay Martin — February 5, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: