Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Singing Mockingbird

Singing Mockingbird

While walking around the pond at Sumter's Swan Lake and Iris Gardens, I heard a songbird up in a tree. It was hard to find at first as it was hiding deep inside the branches. I did eventually spot it and was surprised to see that it was a Mockingbird. Most of the time that I hear them, they are screeching at other birds or at people that are getting too close to their nests. This seemed to be one of the happier ones. Spring does that to people as well as birds, I suppose.

More after the jump.

I am quite happy with the picture. First I was able to find the little guy without spooking him away. Second, I was able to frame him and focus in on him. The red berries around him give a nice bit of color to the scene. Third, I was able to push a little extra light onto him because I was using my SB 900 flash. Since he was backlit and in the tree, I needed some extra light to even out and fill in the shadows around and on him. Quite happy with the results as this is not something I think to do all of the time. The SB 900 is nice for this because it has a longer zoom range than other flashes. It zooms to 200mm which will throw light out farther than my other flash which only zooms to around 100mm or so if I recall. This means that more light will get to the subject, an important thing when using a flash in the daylight like this. It is hard to compete with the Sun after all. Plus, it better matches the zoom on my telephoto lens which was zoomed out to 300mm for this shot.

Of course, serious birding photographers use longer lenses than I have right now. Plus, they may also add an attachment to their flashes that adds a plastic Freznel lens to further extend the distance the flash can reach. The most commonly used one is call a "Better Beamer". I don't have one of those, but I have read several good reviews of them. Someday, if I ever get some of the more exotic lenses ... big if, by the way, right Honey? ;-) ... I will look into picking up one of those flash attachments. They are not that expensive compared to most other photography equipment.

I will mention that you go get some strange looks from people when you have a flash attached to your DSLR in broad daylight. You can almost see the though bubble over their heads, "The Sun is out. Why does he need that flash?" Well, the Sun might be out, but it might not be in the right place for your image. An external flash can help out in those situations. It might not take much extra light at all to even the exposure out to get a more pleasing image. Which is a good thing, because as I mentioned it is hard to compete with the Sun.

Keep shooting.

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