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In the Field: Crescent Bend Nature Park

February 21, 2016
Perched female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in South Texas (inverted)

© jmillerphoto.com – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

After a good weekend of shooting the previous week, I pushed my luck again with a third trip out into the field for the month of February.  This time I went back to what is becoming my favorite birding spot: Crescent Bend Nature Park in eastern Bexar County, Texas.

It was considerably milder in temperature as compared to both the last time I was out to Crescent Bend and as compared to my trip the previous Sunday to South Llano River SP.  Much more conducive to sitting around and making images, not that I usually let cold weather keep me away from shooting.  But the lighting was more difficult to work with due to a layer of low clouds.  Those mostly burned off soon enough, but played into some of my image making decisions.

This was really an outstanding morning of shooting.  The highlights of the morning were decidedly woodpecker-oriented.  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker made her return.  To my delight, her behavior had changed and now she was seemingly more likely to go after the more natural perches in the blind.  I also had a pair of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, one male and one female, make the trip into the blind a number of times.  Also present that morning were Northern Cardinals, female Red-winged Blackbirds, Carolina Chickadees, and Cedar Waxwings (to name just a few).

Perched female Golden-fronted Woodpecker in South Texas

© jmillerphoto.com – Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)

Photographically I tried a couple of new things, to include experimenting with shooting at ISO 800 and ISO 500 when the light was not ideal.  The results were mixed–exposure was generally good but I was not getting sharp focus in the early go of thing.  I think this is a complication to the new lens, but it just tells me that I have to be more particular about focusing points, patience, and keeping the gimbal head a little better tightened down.

By the time I left I had exactly 800 images on the card.  Because it has taken me over a week to get this post out, I can tell you that of the 800, 16 have all ready made it into the portfolio with another 5 or 6 yet to be evaluated for inclusion.  Of those 16, many of them were instances where I was picking the best of a particular series of images to decide which one was going to go in.  I’d say it was a pretty darned good day of shooting.

About the Images:
Both images were shot with the Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600 lens.  The settings on the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were ISO 500, 1/100 sec at f/14.  The settings on the Goden-fronted Woodpecker were ISO 500, 1/400 at f/6.3 (or effectively wide open on this lens).  Neither image presented much of a problem in terms of processing goes.  Both required a bit more noise reduction than normal due to the higher ISO.  Both otherwise these were easy to get into shape.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2016 10:58 am

    Sounds like a fun day, Jim. However, I am surprised that you had that much noise at only 500 ISO. I always love that Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

    • February 21, 2016 11:34 am

      Thanks Bob.

      By digital standards, the noise on the 7D Mark II at ISO 500 is actually very good. But admittedly my preferences when it comes to grain/noise were influenced by how much I was spoiled by the silky smooth images I got from Fuji Superia 100 and Kodak Royal Gold 100 back in the film days. And by a bit more, it means that instead of using my normal range of 18-20 (on a slider that goes to 100) on the Noise Reduction: Luminance slider on Lightroom I am instead using a range of 20-22. Not much change, but enough for it to be a little different.

      Golden-fronteds remain my favorite woodpecker by far and it was a treat to get to see them.

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