Rosyfinch Ramblings
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January 2011
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Confessions of a scattershooting bird photographer
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 2:20 pm

I’ve been testing out my new Canon 60D camera for the past week, shooting at everything that moved, and a few things that didn’t. Reading the manual for my new camera made my eyes glaze over, so after looking at the pictures that pointed out the names of various knobs and buttons, I rushed outside to give it a try.

My portrait of a Great Egret at a nearby lake turned out very nicely…

Great Egret 20110120

…as did this one of a feeding Tricolored Heron:

Tricolored Heron 20110120

Experimenting with the new camera’s settings, I made quite a few mistakes. Thinking I could “improve” upon the reflections in these shots by deepening the field of focus, I inadvertently set the exposure compensation while believing it was the aperture. Unbeknown to me, I had run it off the scale at -5, so the rest of my photos that morning turned out nearly black. I was able to rescue a few test shots by post-processing with Picasa ('’Poor Man’s Photoshop”). This degraded the images, but I hated to just throw these few away (all those mega pixels going to waste!).

The first blacked-out shot was of a Northern Mockingbird that settled quite close to me in my “hiding place” at a pothole in the wetlands near my home:

Northern Mockingbird SOOC 20110120

A cropped image of the same bird emphasized its eye, and despite all the processing, retained pretty good feather detail:

Eye of the mockingbird SOOC crop 20110120

A male Northern Cardinal stood out against the sky:

Northern Cardinal male 20110120

Like the other photos above, my shot of the female cardinal was probably salvageable because of the brightness of the sky:

Northern Cardinal female 20110120

Emerging from the murky darkness of the computer screen, a Gray Catbird posed nicely…

Gray Catbird 20110120

…then dove away, revealing its reddish under-tail coverts:

Gray Catbird 2-20110120

Most of my photos were beyond help, but this spoiled image of a male Indigo Bunting in winter plumage was worth saving, if only for the lovely turn of his head:

Indigo Bunting 20110120

My final shot in this bad batch was a Loggerhead Shrike that was perching atop a palm tree in our front yard as I arrived home:

Loggerhead Shrike 20110120

Settings were restored to normal following a more in-depth perusal of the camera manual. I resolved to always check the following before setting out on my next photo safari: ISO (400), Auto-Focus (ON: 1-shot; 3 m to infinity), Aperture Priority (SET: f/5.6), Metering (Center-point), Focus Point (single center), Image Stabilization (ON), and most important after this experience, Exposure Level (mid-point). Hmm… did I forget anything? The next test shots were more satisfactory.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared in a tree across the street from our home:

Red-bellied Woodpecker 20110121

Not to be overlooked were a long-winged Julia heliconian…

Julia heliconian 20110120

…and a Long-tailed Skipper:

Long-tailed Skipper 20110120