Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 17, 2010

Black Phoebe on dark water

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, light, Sweetwater, technique — richditch @ 10:18 am
Black Phoebe on a rock

Black Phoebe on a rock

Here’s another image from Sweetwater in Tucson to go with my previous posts of Vermilion Flycatcher and Yellow-rumped Warbler. This time, though, it is a Black Phoebe that visited the same artificial stream that attracted the warblers and sparrows.

Like their close cousin the Eastern Phoebe, Black Phoebes have a strong affinity for water. And even here in the desert of central Arizona they are a common species and I see them on most of my bird/photo outings. But I don’t find them easy to photograph as they usually sit on high branches and actively chase insects. I was happy to get this opportunity where this particular bird came close to where I was sitting and landed long enough on an interesting perch for a few shots. Curiously, none of the other photographers I saw while working the stream bothered to get low, electing to stay upright and shoot across the stream instead.

The light was sun from directly behind me, and this image looks almost as if it was taken with flash. I mostly work with directional natural light, preferring the shadows that light provides that gives depth to my subjects. But at least it made the exposure straightforward and I was able to meter in spot mode with no compensation dialed in. I kept the lens wide open at f/5.6 to smooth the water as much as possible, and to keep the shutter speed high in case the phoebe would fidget.

The think the rock is interesting, but a bit distracting because it is so bright. I’ve done some modest darkening of the rock (select the rock in photoshop, add an adjustment layer of any kind, set the layer to Multiply, then use a low value for opacity for that layer). Any darker and the rock no longer looked natural, so I settled for this level of brightness.

01/09/10, Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E, Gitzo tripod, ISO 400, 1/800th second @ f/5.6, spot meter, no compensation, natural light only.

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1 Comment »

  1. Stunning image!

    Comment by Kerri — January 18, 2010 @ 5:17 am


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