Photo of White Crowned Sparrow

Photographing the White Crowned Sparrow with a SLOW Shutter

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Photographing the White Crowned Sparrow

The leaves are thick on the branches, making for a very shady yard. My camera, 500mm lens and tripod are setup on the front porch while birds flash by me on their way to the feeders. This is not the time to be freezing wing motion, or even trying for an action shot with motion blur. It is so shady that I am playing limbo with my shutter speed, experimenting with how low I can go without sacrificing clarity with too low a shutter speed or too high an ISO.

Photo of White Crowned Sparrow
White Crowned Sparrow
Even at 1/500 Second, (with the aperture wide open)
the ISO is above 1000.
ISO1600; f/4; 1/500 Second

 Migrating White Crowned Sparrows

White Crowned Sparrows arrive in flocks (Spring and Fall) and forage on the open ground under our feeders. We see them migrating through for weeks and then suddenly, they are gone. The adult White Crowned Sparrow is one of the easiest sparrows to ID, with its black and white striped head (the white strip looking like a rather large eyebrow) and light gray breast. The juveniles have quite different coloration (a reddish brown with creamy head stripes), so much so that I thought they were a different sparrow species.

Photo of White Crowned Sparrow
White Crowned Sparrow
The Wind was calm, so I lowered the Shutter to 1/320 Second.
A Little More Light Peeking Through the Clouds
Allowed me to Lower the ISO and Tighten the Aperture.
ISO 400; f/5; 1/320 Second

Shutter Speed as Low As 1/320 Second

When photographing birds with a long telephoto lens, I am rarely successful in locking down a sharp focus when the camera is set to a slow shutter speed. Lots of factors come into play, but if the wind is calm and the White Crowned Sparrow is waiting patiently for his turn at the fallen seed, I can achieve a sharp photo with a shutter speed as low as 1/320 second. When I try a shutter speed setting below 1/320 second, I am usually disappointed with the clarity.

So many issues to consider when balancing exposure settings. To read more about factors that may impact image sharpness, visit this blog link  Photographing Savannah Sparrows – Understanding Focus.

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