Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 7, 2009

More color than usual

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, style, technique, weather — richditch @ 6:21 pm
Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

My images seldom depends upon bright color, having long standing monochrome tendencies that reach back to my initial days of photography in 1970 when I shot a lot more B&W than color. Although I only shoot in color these days I still like understated harmonious colors that are generally from the earth tones palette. And now with Photoshop the foundation of my digital darkroom in it very easy to make any image into a good B&W if I want to.

But birds rarely look good to me as B&W since the birds are so colorful most of the time.

And even the “drab brown” sparrows show a lot of subtle variations in the shades of brown and tan that make up their plumage that shooting them in B&W is generally a disservice.

But I was shocked by the color that I captured in this scene of a Song Sparrow on Friday 6/5/09 at the Gilbert Water Ranch. It was an overcast day when I started my walkabout, and I wasn’t finding a lot to shoot. When this sparrow perched momentarily on this shrub overlooking one of the dry ponds I managed to get a few frames before it moved on (and before I could get closer).

When I opened the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw it looked flat, and a little dark, and on the cold side – auto white balance kept the shot bluer than I thought it should be. So, I started increasing the color temperature slider in ACR until the tones of the sparrow looked natural to my eye – one of the benefits of spending as much time as possible outside looking at real birds.

Warming up the sparrow meant that I also warmed up the rest of the image, of course. And that brought up the reds in the background vegetation a lot. I also warmed up the shrub, bringing out more of the yellows in the green. So much so that I used a saturation layer in photoshop to reduce the yellows and greens.

Nikon D200, AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/160th at f/5.6, spot metered on the sparrow.


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