Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

May 11, 2009

Cardinal on the Rocks

Filed under: Birds, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, composition, favorite places, light, style — richditch @ 4:35 pm
Northern Cardinal female

Northern Cardinal female

The Northern Cardinal is a very popular bird, and we see its image on a variety of products sold to birders and non birders. Bright red male cardinals on snow covered evergreen branches sell well during the holidays, and the male is a bird that almost everyone in America knows from this ubiquity in the marketplace and throughout our culture.

The females are depicted less often; I’m sure marketeers know people respond best to bright colors and not so much to more subtle subjects. But I like to photograph female cardinals, and other understated subjects. And my personal style also relies heavily on understated settings as well, where the subject often blends in with the habitat.

This image was made at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, at the same place and date as my recently posted Lazuli Bunting and multiple Lesser Goldfinch shots. Since the cardinal was farther from the rock face and it was a bit later in the morning I was able to drop the ISO from 800 to a more comfortable 400. Exposure was 1/180th second at f/5.6, with a D200, 300/2.8 and TC20E (2x). Although the color of the cardinal is close to the color of the rock I’ve been able to get good separation by aligning the cardinal;s head with the shadowed cavity behind the bird. That cavity darkness also helps provide the three dimensional feel I find important in photos that I usually get from more directional light than I had here.

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