Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 25, 2009

Use the setting

Filed under: Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, style, technique — richditch @ 3:58 pm
Gila Woodpecker on Saguaro cactus

Gila Woodpecker on Saguaro cactus

The Gila Woodpecker is a very common and easily seen bird in the deserts of central Arizona, so I have taken a lot of photographs of the species. But that doesn’t mean I’m bored with taking more photos of them, and I’m always looking for new ways to show them.

The Saguaro cactus “island” just off the main parking lot at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, can be a good place to see and shoot these interesting birds, so on some visits I’ll spend more time than usual here to see what activity there is.

This male (note the red just showing on the crown) came to visit what likely is an active nest cavity directly under the arm of this Saguaro. Fortunately it was possible to get a straight-on view in early morning light that shows the woodpecker and keeps the cactus arm parallel to the sensor plane in the camera. With the sun low on the horizon behind me I had almost perfect front light which worked well to show how the bird is griping the cactus and using its tail to provide extra support.

The cactus provides some graphics to the image, with strong verticals on the left and an interesting curve above the bird. The obvious ribs of the cactus provide a three dimensional feel often lacking with direct front light.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 and 2x, ISO 200, 1/125th at f/10, tripod, 3/14/09. 66% of full frame.

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