Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 15, 2010


Filed under: Birds, digital benefits, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 5:34 pm
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

If you aren’t taking some avian images that don’t make it, you probably aren’t shooting enough. Or you’ve given up on wild birds in favor of controlled backyard setups. Birds that move about on their own in uncontrolled situations are quite skilled at putting obstacles between themselves and the camera, and as a result many of the shots that could have been good ones turn out less than ideal. But with digital “catch and release” shooting it doesn’t cost a lot to keep taking frames as it did in the days of film and processing.

I quickly adopted new habits when I made the transition, and I now take a lot of exposures when I’m out shooting. It greatly increases the odds of coming home with good images, or if not good ones at least some usable stuff.

A bird that gives me lots of trouble is the the Yellow-rumped Warbler, like this Audubon’s subspecies from the Gilbert Water Ranch (the eastern form, the Myrtle Warbler, lacks the yellow throat seen here). It is an active feeder, and it likes to feed high in the trees a lot of the time. And even when it is down at lower levels it moves rapidly.

Since I don’t bait birds for photos my strategy is to keep taking photos anytime I can get close to one and hope that it will move into position long enough for me to get a clean shot in good light. And I almost managed that here, except for the unfortunate mesquite leaf between the camera and the warbler. I kept shooting hoping the bird would move enough to clear the obstruction, but this was as cooperative as it got. So, I’ve got to keep hoping for a better opportunity and keep on with the catch and release shooting.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), 03/06/10, ISO 400, 1/400th second @ f/5.6.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

By contrast to the over active warblers, the Spotted Towhee is rather sedate, and being larger is an easier target for the camera. But only if it gets out of the leaf litter it finds in the shadows of bushes where it likes to feed by scratching around on the ground. I’ve been wanting a good shot of one for a long time, but they don’t usually show up in the drier parts of central AZ. This winter, though, we’ve had a few at the Gilbert Water Ranch. I was delighted to find one out in the open early on the morning of 03/13/10 and did my best to get into position for some photos. But maneuvering my clumsy tripod around a tree and across bushy clumps of desert grass just wasn’t going well. The towhee didn’t wait for me to move my setup another foot or so needed to clear the intervening branches that cross the tail in this shot. Well, maybe next time I’ll have better luck.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/800th second at f/8.



  1. The eye on the Towhee is stunning, though! Too bad it wasn’t more cooperative!

    Comment by bardiac — March 16, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  2. If you aren’t taking some avian images that don’t make it, you probably aren’t shooting enough.

    True, very true. But your failures look a million times better than some of my successes.

    Comment by Kimberly Hosey (AZ Writer) — March 20, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

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