Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

November 8, 2009

Western Bluebird at Boyce Thompson Arboretum


Western Bluebird at Boyce

Western Bluebird at Boyce

Like many species in Arizona, Western Bluebird spends the warmer months at higher elevations and can be found at lower elevations only in the cooler part of the year. Even then I feel lucky to see one. I rarely see them at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, but my luck has held this season – there was a small flock of them at Boyce on my last visit on 11/06/09.

They were actively feeding, hawking insects in an open glade under the largest trees at the arboretum. They would make occasional brief stops on the ground but mostly spent their time in the air chasing insects or perched on high bare branches.

This behavior presented some challenges for my photography. I needed more than my 600mm (300mm with 2x), so this shot is cropped about 50%. The dim light also required use of my SB-800 flash even with an ISO setting of 400 for an exposure of 1/125th second wide open at f/5.6. I also engaged the spot meter so the brighter patches of sky in the frame wouldn’t dominate the meter and lead to under exposure.

I would have been happier without the need for flash as I feel it flattens the image a bit by reducing the natural shadows that define three dimensions. But I like the image overall and especially the color harmonies between the plumage of the bluebird and the branch it is sitting on.



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