Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

May 3, 2009

Lesser Goldfinches

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch is a common bird in central Arizona, and is the western equivalent of the better known American Goldfinch. It is smaller, and I prefer the plumage of American GOldfinch over Lesser Goldfinch. We do get small numbers of American here in AZ, but not something I get to see every year.

These shots of males and were taken a couple of days ago at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, AZ. I usually do my photography around one of the two water sources in the Demo Garden, but I’m experimenting with a new location at Boyce that also has running water.

Shooting at this spot is difficult, at least on the two mornings I’ve tried. And that’s perhaps the main problem: the spot is in shadow early in the morning, then becomes backlit. It might be better in the afternoon, but with the Arboretum now closing at 3:00 PM on their summer schedule it means putting up with a high sun and even higher AZ temperatures.

Anyway, I ended up shooting at ISO 800 here. My D200 doesn’t give great results at that speed, but shots do look better at ISO 800 now that I’ve turned on the internal High ISO Noise Reduction feature. Like any NR it takes out some of the noise but also takes out some of the detail.

The other main issue with these shots was the white balance. The raw NEF files look rather funky with too much blue in the mix when set on Auto White Balance. I’ve struggled before in raw conversion when the WB is way off (never being able to find a WB preset or adjustments to the temperature and tint sliders that looked right), but I was able to get around that this time. I used the White Point eyedropper on the white wingbars in the first image I converted from this session to reset both the temperature and tint values, and then used those same values on all other shots from this location. It did a fine job getting rid of the funky color cast.

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

The noise in these images was well controlled with the internal NR, but it left just enough noise in the image that I knew it would bother some viewers (especially those who didn’t grow up shooting film). So I used the NoiseWare plugin for Photoshop at the default setting to clean up the background in both these images (using a mast on a duplicate layer, as always, to give more control over my selection and strength of NR).

I’m quite happy with the overall results here, especially when you consider that these posted images are only about 50% of full frame.

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