Elizabeth Warkentin  

White Breasted Nuthatch by Elizabeth Warkentin

November 2020 - White Breasted Nuthatch

November 2020 - Elizabeth Warkentin


About the Image(s)

Earlier this week I went to the nature and wildlife refuge at Île Saint-Bernard, just outside Montreal. It was mid-afternoon and the light was lovely since the sun sets so early now (around 4:25 pm) and there were about a dozen nuthatches (I'm not sure if they were red-breasted or white-breasted nuthatches, I'm very new at trying to identify birds) flying around just at the entrance to the trail. They weren't afraid of humans because people are allowed to feed them sunflower seeds in this part of the park. People were putting out their hands and letting them fly on to them and take seeds, but I was more interested in watching and photographing them flitting from branch to branch since I normally have such a hard time locking focus and capturing sharp images of small birds.

I had my Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS lens and my tripod as I had come in the hopes of finding deer and foxes to photograph, but when I saw and heard these joyous little creatures I had to try to get at least one decent photo. I stood between eight to 12 feet from one of the short trees on which they were landing and changed my focal length to between 200 and 400 feet depending on where I was standing. I took this particular photo at 400mm, f/6.3, ISO 2500, 1/4000 sec. This is my favourite image from the 75 or so I took, but I'm disappointed that there was a branch so close below the bird's tail. I cropped most of the branches out, but if I crop it too close the bird's tail is too tight in the frame. I also wish the bird's tail weren't blurry and that his breast feathers were sharper. Maybe my shutter speed should have been a bit higher still? And perhaps my aperture should have been at f/7.1? I know I could use the healing brush in Photoshop to remove the distracting branch, but since you can't remove objects in Nature competitions, I decided to just keep it as is. In post-processing I also increased the warmth, texture, clarity and sharpness, brought out the oranges just a little, and reduced the noise using both Lightroom and Topaz AI Denoise.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
6 comments posted

Zina Mirsky   Zina Mirsky
The sharpness and clarity of the eye is the captivating feature of this lovely photo. I'm in Northern California and our nuthatches are much more white chested so I'm not sure whether it's the nature of the Canadian bird to be so much more orange or the post-processing. I wonder if a light vignette would help make the lower branch a bit less distracting? Or, the bokeh in the background and the branch might be sufficient to allow you to leave more of it in, and thus better balance the lower image with the upper.   Posted: 11/14/2020 07:01:06
Elizabeth Warkentin   Elizabeth Warkentin
Thank you, Zina! Yes, you might be right. This might actually be an orange breasted nuthatch. I'm going to see if someone here can confirm. I'm in eastern Canada so birds are different from the West. Yes, I would like to the composition to me more balanced but that means including a lot more distracting branches underneath. Thanks for the vignetting suggestion.   Posted: 11/14/2020 11:16:02
Elizabeth Warkentin   Elizabeth Warkentin
It turns out that my bird is not a nuthatch, but a chickadee. A black-capped chickadee, I believe. And I may have to bring down the temperature as his sides are a bit too orange. Thank you!   Posted: 11/16/2020 17:44:42

Robert Knight   Robert Knight
I too like the sharpness in the bird's eye and the branch. There is a slight loss of sharpness on the bird's body but I think you have produced a good image for one that has been severely cropped. You have a very good lens that allows that degree of clarity. I agree with Zina that a slight vignette might improve the image and I would be tempted to remove the suggestion of a branch in the bottom right. I agree with your comment about not removing objects in nature competitions but you could include it in an open or general competition which is what often happens in our club. I like the diffused background which makes the bird stand out.   Posted: 11/16/2020 13:07:02
Elizabeth Warkentin   Elizabeth Warkentin
Thank you, Robert. Much appreciated! Yes, I may try a general competition and that way I could remove the branch.   Posted: 11/16/2020 17:43:06

David Norris   David Norris
Hi Elizabeth, I also like your bird, I'm glad to hear you cleared up the type of bird it is. I'm not good on the bird names but I do love capturing them with my camera. The composition is great with those diagonal lines and the sharpness in the eye appears good. I agree with regards to the branch at the bottom it is a little distracting. Perhaps you can embrace the landscape format and include some more tree branches to include some of the environment. The creamy background bokeh is perfect. Trying to capture these little creatures is difficult but I think you have shown us a good example of what can be achieved.   Posted: 11/29/2020 06:26:12