Michael Weatherford  

Dusky Grouse by Michael Weatherford

April 2021 - Dusky Grouse

About the Image(s)

This photo was shot in Rocky Mountain National Park along the Old Fall River Road, an unpaved and very crooked road that runs from West Horseshoe Park to the Alpine Visitor Center. It’s a one-lane narrow road but has plenty of places to pull off to the side. So I pulled over and set out to explore the area along the creek that runs beside the road. The morning sun was nicely filtered by the trees. I spotted a female dusky grouse among the boulders and brush near the creek, and noticed some movement nearby. There were at least three poults with her. I followed her and eventually she stopped atop a boulder along with one of the poults. I used a Pentax K-1 with 300mm lens to capture this image. Hand held, shutter set to 1/320 which is my default for this lens for still or slowly moving subjects. Aperture set to f7.1 to provide a sufficiently blurred background. The Pentax K-1 auto-set to ISO1250 which typically is plenty good for this 36mp full frame camera. No filters or other adjustments. In-camera processing set to “Flat” mode. White balance set to “auto”. Initially processed in Lightroom making my routine adjustments (described in detail with last month’s image). Image cropped less than 10%. Used Luminar 4 “AI” settings to adjust structure and fine details, selectively applied to the birds only.

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

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Fall River Road is one of the best drives in the park. You have to travel slow enough that you get to enjoy the entire drive. Although there is that really sharp hairpin turn. . .

I like the way you managed to pin the pair against the light out of focus rocky background. It really makes them pop out while maintaining a strong feeling of environment. Sometimes it is the little things that make an image sing and I feel this is one of those times.

The full frame camera and the limited cropping show off the detail of the plummage to great advantage.   Posted: 04/04/2021 15:48:36

David Kepley   David Kepley
Love the old fall river road! It was one of my first introductions to the Rockies! Great background out of focus! It is bright enough to set off the birds. The birds are sharp and the eyes are sharpo. Great job!

Areas for possible improvement. Wildlife is always hard. The animals never cooperate! It would have been better to see separation between the two birds. Never crazy about shooting an animal from behind (butt shot!). The two animals are not interacting. The one of the left is looking left and the one on the right is looking right. Hard to get these critters to do what you want!   Posted: 04/15/2021 09:05:32
Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Yep, I agree with your observation about the lack of interaction weakening the appeal of the image. Thanks.   Posted: 04/17/2021 19:34:34
Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Just wait until next month. I'll post a sage grouse image that will have you asking, "How on earth did he get that shot?"   Posted: 04/17/2021 19:44:34
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
OK---I'm ready and waiting for next month's treat. In you case, images are due on the 1st of the month. :-)   Posted: 04/18/2021 18:49:00

Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Michael. I have never seen this Grouse before, so that is exciting for me. I have seen the Sage Grouse and of course the Ruffed Grouse we have here in the east . The camouflaged on these birds is wonderful. Being able to find them in their environment and still get great shots with all the detail is a complement to your hunting skill. I agree with the thoughts that Dave and Larry have so not to much for me to add. I do like the choice of the depth of field. It has allowed you to have good Bokeh and still keep both birds in focus. Good work on that.   Posted: 04/20/2021 12:00:53

Jason Stewart   Jason Stewart
Nice dynamics going on here. The green really makes the birds pop. Even though the background is relatively the same color its nicely blurred and lightened.   Posted: 04/27/2021 08:28:57

Bud Ralston   Bud Ralston
Michael - I've not seen a dusky grouse before either. Always happy to discover a new bird. Great job isolating your subjects from the background, especially with their camouflage.   Posted: 04/27/2021 08:47:00