On the first day of March, J, our two dogs Kodi and Kaja, and I headed out to the 1,627 acre Santa Teresa County Park located in the Santa Teresa Hills ten miles south of downtown San Jose in Santa Clara County, CA. This park is about 45 minutes from my home in the Santa Cruz mountains and on this early spring day (I know spring was a couple weeks away but this is California) the park was green with the wildflowers beginning to bloom. By the time we arrived on the west side of the park it was a little after noon with the sun high in the sky. This type of light brings out hard shadows but does produce high contrast images, which I like. With plenty of light, I was able to use an ISO250 as well as being able to stop down to f/6.3 even with a fast shutter speed, 1/1000s, to capture the birds in motion. The steps I use to set up my camera is to first set the ISO as low as I can then I take into consideration the depth of field I want and do a trade off with the shutter speed to make sure I won't introduce camera shake by using too low shutter speed. I know it's a bit complicated but with practice it will become natural to a point you hardly think about it. So now I was ready and off we went. We walked up the Stile Trail and about 1/2 mile into the hike I heard a faint call as we passed a rock wall. I turned around and saw some movement along the wall and as I moved closer a Rufous-crowned Sparrow hopped up onto the rock wall and then another.
The two sparrows where within 5m (15ft) of me but just outside the minimum focus distance of the lens. It was exciting to watch the bird watching me and it seemed that they we as curious of me as I of them. When shooting with the sun high in the sky, you need to pay attention to where the shadows are falling. In the first photo below you can see the shadow from the bird's head and beak falling across the back but with the focus point on the eye most viewers will not find that distracting. The middle photo was a little different. There was a heavy shadow falling down the chest just to the right of the bill but with some adjustments in Lightroom I was able to tone it down so hopefully you didn't notice until you read this. Now for the final photo I waited until the sparrow turned its head so the shadows were virtually gone. Everyone sees things differently but although the third photo has less distracting shadows, I like the first pose better and I always like it when the birds looks directly at me as in the center photo. When the birds look at me, I find myself connecting with one of earth's special creatures.
Your comments are welcomed and if you have any questions about the photo or any other questions leave me a message.