Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

December 5, 2009

Variations on a White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow A

White-crowned Sparrow A

One of the treats for an eastern birder now living in Phoenix is the abundance of White-crowned Sparrows that winter in the area. In the eastern U.S. we’d see only a few white-crowns each winter, and then usually in the company of the closely related White-throated Sparrow. They make a fine backup photo subject when I can’t get close to something more exotic when I’m out at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, where these three images were made.

White-crowned Sparrow B

White-crowned Sparrow B

Shooting digital allows the photographer a lot more freedom to take lots of shots: something that the ever present thought of the cost of film and processing could curtail. So in the field I keep my Nikon D200 set on high speed continuous and will often use that feature to take a quick series of shots of a single bird. That gives me more options and assures that I’ll have a better chance of avoiding subject blur and a choice of poses.

White-crowned Sparrow C

White-crowned Sparrow C

These three frames show the same bird on the same perch in the same light: the only difference is in the position of the sparrow’s head. All are acceptable images for me.

In terms of composition I’ve included more of the branches than many other photographers might – I like showing my subjects in habitat and I like the strong graphics provided by these interesting branches. I’ve placed the sparrow left of center to leave more room in front of the bird.

The lighting is more directional than some people recommend, but again I like the way directional lighting adds depth to an image by bringing out texture with the shadows it creates.

12/01/09, D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/640th second at f/8, Gitzo 1325 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, Sidekick, 72% of frame.

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