Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

December 22, 2011

Northern Mockingbird – It’s the Light

Filed under: Birds, comparisons, digital benefits, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 12:38 pm
Northern Mockingbird @ 7:41 am

Northern Mockingbird @ 7:41 am

Nikon D300, AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 800, 1/50th second @ f/9, matrix metered, 61% of frame

As a novice photographer so long ago I always thought it was the subject that was whole point of photography. Although now I know there is little point to taking a photo if there is no subject, I also understand that the light is extremely important to the photo as well. Here are two photos of a Northern Mockingbird taken at the same spot at the Gilbert Water Ranch on the same day to illustrate the difference light can make.Nikon D300, AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/1250th second @ f/8, spot metered, 74% of frame

Sunrise was around 7:28 am on December 20, 2011, and I had just started my random walk at the Water Ranch when I came upon this mockingbird in his usual spot (mockingbirds are quite territorial even in winter so I wasn’t surprised to find this bird catching the first rays of sun from a favorite perch). Since I have so many shots of this species in my files I usually just walk past, but I couldn’t ignore the pink glow that added so much go this normally gray bird. The rising sun had just broken through heavy overcast, and even at ISO 800 I could only manage 1/50th second at f/9 for my exposure.

Normally I’d reject this composition because of the distracting out-of-focus branch that crosses the tail, but I really like the pink glow and the sharpness I got even at 1/50th second.

Northern Mockingbird @ 9:52 am

Northern Mockingbird @ 9:52 am

Nikon D300, AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/1250th second @ f/8, spot metered, 74% of frame

Just over two hours later as I was leaving I couldn’t resist a few frames of the same mockingbird on a different branch. Those two hours made a tremendous difference in the light – I had a lot more of it so even with a lower ISO my shutter speed was way up to 1/1250th second. This shot shows the normal colors of the mockingbird. Although the image isn’t handicapped with a branch across part of the bird it is a less interesting image because of the ordinary light.

Another plug for digital: it is a great learning aide to have the shooting parameters and date/time stamp embedded in the EXIF for each image. We take it for granted now that digital rules, but in the days of film we were very lucky if we could recall anything about an image beyond the approximate date and probable lens used for a photo.


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