Experiments in high ISO – backyard birds

The cold and snow have brought out the usual cast of winter characters to our back yard.  It was too cloudy for typical photography, but I set the camera and long lens on the tripod in the kitchen bay window and made some experimental captures using 800-1000 ISO.

Male Northern Cardinal

Normally, I try to avoid high ISO because it produces too much pixel noise (graininess).  But I find now that if you don’t crop and enlarge too much, it looks OK.  I probably wouldn’t print one for a contest, but it’s handy for documentation, or when you really need the shot regardless of image quality.

Female Northern Cardinal

You can get fast enough shutter speeds to freeze the birds, if not the snowfall.

From Winter 2011

It’s rare to see two Carolina wrens at the same time.  That’s one reason I began this series.

European Starling

These don’t usually come to the feeder in winter.   I’m no fan of them, but they do have some nice iridescence.

From Winter 2011

I like the bird perched above the sweetgum balls.

From Winter 2011

Goldfinches like sweetgum seeds.

From Winter 2011

A tufted titmouse won’t sit still for long.

January 1, 2011 – Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first blog entry of 2011.  Regular readers may have noticed the conversion of this missive into more of a nature/photo blog and less of a daily journal.  Most probably rejoice at the reduced text and mundane details.  After spending most of my break on house projects and writing deadlines, I had some time today to get to the riverfront for some photography.  Contrary to my predictions, there were no eagles around.  I had to make do with sea gulls and ducks.

Ring-billed gull

These gulls are great practice for shooting birds in flight. 

From Winter 2011

Click through to see larger versions on the photo album.

From Winter 2011

These gulls were feasting on dead fish below lock and dam 20 at Canton, Missouri.  There were hundreds of these birds present at the time, making these fly by shots fairly easy.

From Winter 2011

There were a few of these common goldeneyes were also feeding on dead fish, but they have to chew on them and beat them up to get pieces small enough to swallow. 

From Winter 2011

The gulls will try to steal the fish during this process.  Here, the duck dives before the gull can attempt the theft. 

The next entry will not bee for a couple of weeks, after I get back from the Galapagos.  It will be either one giant blog or perhaps several separate entries.