Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

October 28, 2009

Time for White-crowned Sparrows

Filed under: Birds, comparisons, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, style — richditch @ 6:45 pm


White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Now that we are past summer her in AZ we are getting to see many of our old avian friends that winter in the desert lowlands, including the abundant White-crowned Sparrow. I’ve always enjoyed these birds, finding them unassuming in their understated colors and ease of access in brushy areas in parks and elsewhere.


White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

This bird popped up beside me at the Gilbert Water Ranch as I was trying for a shot of a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was faster than I was, so I took advantage of the opportunity and turned my camera to the sparrow on my left. I didn’t touch any of the camera settings, which were ISO 200 and f/5.6 and auto exposure in matrix meter mode. That gave me a shutter speed in the 1/90th-1/100th second range for this bird in the shade of the bush, and with focus on the bird I got off a few frames before it moved on about its business.


White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

I like all three of the poses presented here. Although these are essentially the same image it is interesting how the character of the overall image changes with the head position of the sparrow. Its a good example of why every photographer should keep shooting as long as the subject is available – I ended up with three different images that could have different appeal for different viewers.

What I like most about these shots is the soft look of the setting: the way the mesquite leaves go out of focus but still retain their identity; and the way the greens and soft yellows blend together.

The important parts of the sparrow are unobstructed; the mesquite leaves in front the wing give the image more depth and help show the bird in habitat.

Processing was minimal for these images: a shift in white balance in raw conversion to counteract the blueness of the shaded area; a tiny bump in contrast from spreading the histogram in raw conversion; about 5 points of saturation boost in photoshop. I wanted to retain the open airy soft feel so I avoided levels and curves to boost contrast excessively.






  1. What a striking bird! I hope I catch some of these tomorrow at the preserve.

    Comment by Kim Hosey (AZ Writer) — October 29, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  2. Very nice shots of this White-crowned !

    we hope to return to the Water Ranch, once more , next April.

    Good shootin’ !!


    Comment by chuck kling — November 8, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

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