Richard Matheny  

Blue Grosbeaks by Richard Matheny

September 2020 - Blue Grosbeaks

September 2020 - Richard Matheny


About the Image(s)

Hey guys I finally got out of the backyard a few times this last month. Spent some time at the James Webb Wildlife Center here in South Carolina . I was chasing American Goldfinches through the over grown Sunflower Fields that they plant for the Doves. Of course it benefits way more that just the Doves. Close to the dove Field is a small wooded lot that harbors a lot of the same birds that use the fields. I spotted a Tent Caterpillar nest that the Grosbeaks were feeding on. I had seen as many as 4 birds attacking the nest at once. This was an ongoing event so I had a little time to prepare for the shot I wanted. I wanted to capture the feeding action of the birds and maybe even someone in flight. I could not get very close because it was a wet swampy area so I was shooting from the dirt road in my car with a window bean bag as a solid support. I took several test shots and finally settled with a shutter speed of 1/2000 to stop the action and an OSO of 1250 that seemed acceptable. I chose this image mainly because of the action of the bird on the top of the nest. She seemed very interested in the other lady flying in from below the nest.

I was using the Nikon D500 with a Nikon 300mmpf prime lens and the afore mentioned bean bag as my tripod. Settings were f6.7, ISO 1250, Shutter 1/2000sec. and the equivalent of 420mm on the crop sensor camera.

I had to use a very heavy crop but I thin it worked ok. Also had to lighten and brighten the image in light room with some selective clarity and sharpening.

6 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Glad you managed to get out and were able to get some different images.
You managed to capture something most people will not see so you get extra kudos for originality. Please forgive me if I'm wrong but I think the image is a bit dark (might be my new computer that I'm still calibrating) but I think adding a bit of brightness would breathe some life into the image.

I applaud your use of the high shutter as it is certainly necessary for this type of action and your D500 can certainly handle the necessary bump in ISO. The increased aperture added a bit of depth of field and you beanbag make a reliable tripod substitute. All in all you did a lot of things right and a fine image is the result.

Especially for shots like this I like to use the Dynamic Focus Groups to help ensure perfect focus. In my monitor the birds look to be a bit soft---that might be due to the drop but I feel more likely due to a slightly missed focus.

I like to shoot with the camera in manual, so I set the shutter and aperture and then I use auto ISO.
  Posted: 09/11/2020 11:50:38
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Larry for the comments. The image may be a little dark. I did lighten it up as much as I thought I could without getting the caterpillar web to bright. It was very dark in the woods. I have just started using the Group Focus and think it will help on some of the things that I can't get close enough to. I agree the birds are just a tad soft. They are good enough for me but if entering into a high quality competition it would get bypassed quickly. Thanks
  Posted: 09/11/2020 17:56:12
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
When you brighten an image, if it makes the web too bright just do a bit of dodging and burning to selectively darken the web.
As a reference point my Smoky Mountain sunset posted in Group 36 actually has 31 different dodges or burns to get the results shown.   Posted: 09/11/2020 18:21:19

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
This one tells a story of a bird defending its food against another bird. Good tension. You could lighten the exposure and shadows on the lower bird in LR using the adjustment brush and maybe bring down the highlights a bit on the upper bird. BTW that's a possumhaw bush. The berries will turn bright red when mature and provide food for other birds. Good image!   Posted: 09/18/2020 18:05:13
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Michael for the comments. I had never heard the term Possumhaw bush before. I guess it's in the holly family of trees and bushes. I will watch it for the berries to turn abs see what decides to dine on them.   Posted: 09/18/2020 18:47:08
Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Also called Deciduous Holly. Scientific name is Ilex decidua. A great wildlife shrub.   Posted: 09/18/2020 19:43:33


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