Nikon D70, 300/2.8 plus TC20E, tripod, SB-800 flash, ISO 400, 1/60th second at f/5.6, 2/23/2008
Most of the images I post here are from the Gilbert Water Ranch: not surprising as I spend so much time there walking about looking for birds and taking photos when the opportunity arises. Although I don’t get nearly as many photos from Boyce Thompson Arboretum (an AZ state park near Superior, AZ) I enjoy my less frequent visits there at least as much as my times at the Water Ranch.
Boyce offers a different habitat mix than does the Water Ranch and as a result the species I see there are often different. I find it more difficult to shoot at Boyce because there’s so much more vegetation for the fewer birds to hide in, but if it was closer I’d spend a lot more time there trying for photos.
Red-naped Sapsucker is a woodpecker of higher elevations that spends the winter in the trees at Boyce. I’ve only seen one at the Water Ranch (April 2007). My only photos of the species are from Boyce. In preparing a program for the Arboretum I rediscovered this shot from 2008. It was taken with my first digital camera, the Nikon D70, and the shadowed position of the sapsucker led me to use fill flash. I hadn’t been excited by the image when I first processed it in 2008, but when I revisited it recently I decided it was worth a rework and I’m much happier with the results seen here.
Nikon D300, 300/2.8 plus TC20E III (2x), Gitzo 1325 tripod, RRS BH-55 head, Sidekick, ISO 1600, 1/320th second at f/8, 1/23/2012
Hermit Thrush is another bird from the higher elevations that can be found wintering at Boyce every year. I’ve never seen it at the Water Ranch, although a friend has seen it there. This shot was taken 4 years and 2 cameras later than the sapsucker (but with the same lens and probably the same tripod setup). I could not have taken this shot with the D70, nor the D200 that came after it, because neither of those two earlier cameras preforms well at the high ISO 1600 setting. And until I took this shot I didn’t know how much better the D300 was than the D200. With the D70 I would have needed to use flash and put up with the unnatural look it would have given. With the D200 I would have tried this at ISO 800, opened the lens to f/5.6, and tried to use Noise Reduction software in post processing to clean up the results. But the newer technology of the D300 overcame those problems, and neither flash nor noise reduction was needed.