Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

April 30, 2009

Vermilion Flycatcher

Filed under: Birds, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, composition, favorite places, light — richditch @ 4:22 pm
Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

If you like color you’ll love the Vermilion Flycatcher, like this one I photographed at Boyce Thompson Arboretum on April 28, 2009. These small flycatchers have the most brilliant orange-red feathers I’ve ever seen on a wild bird in the U.S., and their “glow” can be seen for quit some distance when they sit out in the sunlight.

But that brilliant color makes them a difficult subject to expose properly: it is very easy to overexpose the red channel and get blown put plumage.

I was lucky in two ways with this bird earlier in the week. First, it wasn’t particularly bothered by my presence along one of the trails at BTA. I saw it as a distance and started a careful approach, expecting it would be as uncooperative as others have been for me at many other locations in AZ. But this bird kept returning to a couple of favorite perches even after I got within close camera range.

I was lucky with the light, as well. This is an open stand of very large trees, with a high leaf canopy. So, I didn’t have a bird in bright direct sunlight to deal with: softer lower contrast light is ideal for tricky exposure subjects. I varied my exposure, trying a few frames with -1/3rd ev compensation, but even shots at zero bias were fine and were essentially straight conversions from raw in Adobe Camera Raw.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E 2x converter, ISO 400, 1/125th second at f/8. Natural light, no flash fill. 81% of full frame. No cloning, no noise reduction, no background blurring, “no foolin’ around” in post processing.

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