Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 23, 2009

Added Interest

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, technique — richditch @ 9:52 am
Abert's Towhee with nesting material

Abert's Towhee with nesting material

I needed some time outside on Sunday and met my friend Brendon at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, even though we both knew it would be hectic with family groups. We thought we’d avoid most of the activity by spending time with the cooperative Sora hanging out there, but the rail spent its time on the far side of the pond and out of camera range.

So we did a random walk to see what else was around and eventually ended up by the rock and cactus garden near the main parking lot. I usually shoot the woodpeckers and thrashers up on the Saguaros here, but we were treated to a couple of Abert’s Towhees active on the rocks near the ground. This bird had a very interesting piece of material that it was likely going to use in nest building, and it made a great subject for both of us.

As a friend commented on this image: “A portrait is more than a portrait when it’s a bird with nest material.” Add interest to your photos by showing the subject doing something.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E 2x converter (effective 600/5.6 lens), ISO 250, 1/32oth at f/5.6 under partial cloud cover. Shooting at maximum aperture helped soften the bright distracting rock in the background. The soft natural light gave just enough shadows to show the three dimensional contours of the towhee without having them block up and requiring fill flash to “open” them up any. I’ve read a lot of things on the internet about how bad this 2x converter is, but I find the results when used with my 300/2.8 to be of excellent quality even wide open.



  1. Hello Rich, I have a question in which pond did you see the Sora?

    Comment by Everton De Melo — February 23, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

  2. The Sora has been in Pond 6.

    Comment by richditch — February 23, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  3. Very nice DOF.

    Good work for a image shot using a 2x TC.

    Comment by ForestWander — February 24, 2009 @ 6:38 am

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