Monday, March 28, 2011


Onward! by right2roam
Onward!, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

When I got back to my computer for a closer look at this shot, I immediately imagined this little guy charging off in a flutter of energy, followed by a squadron of Nuthatches wearing goggles and leather bomber jackets. I know... I have a crazy, cheesy imagination, right?

This image is the result of what was probably the most intensive post-processing I've ever applied to any of my shots. Even with my 400mm zoom, I just couldn't get in close enough to capture this bird in full detail. In the dim lighting conditions of this wooded area I had to use a ridiculously high ISO in order to use a shutter speed that could offer any chance of freezing anything as fast-moving as a bird. Then I cropped out about 50 percent of the original frame to get this composition. Finally in Photoshop I applied a noise reduction filter and a selective sharpening layer to help compensate for the graininess and reduced detail.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 400mm
Aperature: f/9
Exposure: 1/40 second
ISO 1600

While this shot will never make an appealing large print, I'm very happy with how it looks on the web. For comparison, check out this photo of a Steller's Jay that I took two days later, same branch. The Jay is a much larger bird and filled the entire frame, so no cropping was required. The difference in detail is clear, especially when viewing large.

Who are you calling punk?

Special thanks to Oma Darling for her bird watching tips and knowledge of the wildlife of Eastern Washington State, and for letting me borrow her cozy "hide". Now that I'm back in the UK, I'm sure to be spending more time at any number of nature reserves and wildlife refuges, and hopefully I'll be sharing more photographs of birds soon.

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