Black-capped Chickadee (no.2)

December 29, 2010
Black-capped Chickadee (no.2)

1/800sec @ f/11
420mm, ISO2000, 0ev
Evaluative Metering
Nikon D3s, AF-S 300mm f/4, AF-S TC-14EII

While Chickadees are extremely common birds I find them extremely challenging to take good photos of. The first reason for this is due to my attention span. The moment I see another bird that I don’t see as often as Chickadees I direct my attention towards it. The second reason is their colouring. Not only do they have black but they have white feathers. That is one huge range of tonality for me to get right in the camera. More often than not I blow the highlights on the white. It is so difficult to get details in the black feathers and detail in the white feathers. If the white feathers catch the sun it is almost certain that I have blown the highlights beyond repair. The third and final reason is how fast they move. You have to machine gun the shots to have any hope of capturing the perfect pose.

My own critique of the shot is as follows. I think the background has just enough texture not to be too dull. I also like the colours in the background, the rust mixing with the whites. The detail on the head is good. I still think I can get it sharper in camera. The pose brings tension to the shot. It is not a perfect head angle or body angle but it is dynamic. As I look at the shot it feels as though the bird is about to leap from its perch. I like the fact that the two eyes are visible both with catch lights. The perch is a little boring and is making me rethink where I take shots from. Even working at f/11 I am still not getting the DOF I want. I have been told this is to do with the distance between me and the subject and by the fact I am using a tele-converter. I am still unsure of how I am going to tackle that.

On a side note, I am always amazed that I can work at ISO 2000 with the Nikon D3s and noise is non-existant. I used a small amount of NR in Lightroom but on my previous cameras at ISO 2000 the image would have been unusable.