Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 10, 2012

White-crowned Sparrow Variations

Filed under: Birds, comparisons, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 5:37 pm
White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

I’ve been getting out to shoot as much as possible lately to take advantage of the tolerable temperatures. These images of an immature White-crowned Sparrow were made Tuesday, February 7, 2012, at the Gilbert Water Ranch just before 8:00 am, about 30 minutes after sunrise.

This was a chance encounter: no bait, no tape, no set-up. Just a random walk-about with my Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 300/2.8 and TC20E II (2x) mounted on my tripod with gimbal head. I was thrilled when this juvie bird landed on a wonderful branch off trail to my right and stayed there long enough for me to set down the tripod and poi nt the lens at it for a few quick frames. I keep things ready to shoot as I walk about so I don’t usually need to think and make camera adjustments. the ISO was set to 800 to give more flexibility in the soft hazy morning light. The lens was set to f/8 (one stop “down” from wide open). The camera is always on aperture preferred auto exposure, but for this situation I switched in the spot meter with a dedicated function button to guard against underexposure from the bright background. The combination of settings and light yielded a shutter speed of 1/500th second.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

As with any photo op I try to get more than one shot to increase my chances of a keeper. I also try for variations in the position or activity of the subject, and that is shown here in these two very similar images. Basically the sparrow turned its head so I was able to catch it looking to the left in one frame and to the right in another. I like both versions, but who can predict which will be better without taking both?

Also note that I’ve framed these two images a little differently by making sure there’s more space in the composition in the direction in which the sparrow is looking. I didn’t do this at the time I made the exposures; rather this decision was made during post processing simply by cropping each frame differently. Both shots are 81% of the full frame. I crop most of my photos to fine tune composition – I find this necessary when working with wild subjects in natural settings where the bird decides where to be. But in the interest of image quality I do my best to limit cropping and keep as many pixels of the original as possible.


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