Birds at the Bubbler *Long Post*

Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
1,420
Location
St. Louis, MO
It has been quite some time since I have posted anything new. Finally, I was able to get otu and get some real shooting in yesterday. I am now waiting on a few jobs (construction) and as such, have time to play, which is good and bad.

Late this spring, I built a bubbler at my parents place. For those who are unfamiliar with that term, its simply a water feature that is meant to attract birds, particularly migrating Warblers. My folks wanted it more than just a bubbler, so I made it so that it was like a small clear stream, that dumped into a small pond where they have fish. The rocks used in the construction are all native to this property and area. Its VERY rocky there.

Wow...let me just encourage those that can to do this. This one project has attracted more new species to their yard than any other thing we have ever done. The only negative thing was the location, which is under a canopy of tree cover. Birds love it, and its fine for viewing, but for photography, its a challenge. On top of that...its backlit in afternoon sun, which adds another challenge. As a person who loves being challenged, with the fall migration underway, I jumped in with both feet.

Due to the high contrasty scene of rocks and water being reflected, I shot in total Manual mode. This way, I could dial in the exposure on the subject regardless of what the background was/is. The bg can vary from bright white, to dark black and green, which can pose a serious issue in exposure control when using Aperture or Shutter Priority. Due to the tree cover and lack of light, getting high SS's is next to impossible. I decided to give my LLT (long lens technique) a work out and keep ISO's low, with LOW ss's. I want to encourage those interested to not be afraid of shooting at low SS's even when using long glass. Get your technique down and then you have another "weapon" of sorts to rely on instead of automatically pumping up the ISO.

With all that said...here are the results. Mind you mid way through this, clouds rolled in, but I still am very happy with the results.

All taken with a D300s, 600VR naked, while sitting in my Double Bull Blind.

f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/200th
#1 Orange Crowned Warbler
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#2
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A few more common birds decided it was time to get cleaned up.

f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/160th
#3 Chipping Sparrow
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Losing light more and more:

f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/125th
#4 Female Indigo Bunting
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Lots of Yellow rumped Warblers around.

f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/125th
#5
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Finally this method was no longer going to be as productive, so I decided to go to the extreme opposite in my method and see how clean a shot I could nail with VERY high ISO's (high for DX anyway). They key to high ISO shooting is to NAIL the exposure. I really try to push the exposure as far to the right as I can when shooting, especially so when using ISO's 800 and up. Last year I got to where I could shoot at ISO 1600 and be happy. This year, with practice and altering my pp'ing flow just a bit, I have extended that range up more.

f/6.3, ISO 2500, 1/320
#6 Female House Finch
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f/6.3, ISO 2500, 1/250th
#7 Yellow rumped Warbler
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I sure hope we have more warblers to come through...its been a blast sitting close to the bubbler and having these beautiful birds come down for a drink and a bath. It was just great being out seeing this and all the fall colors starting to take over. Hope you enjoyed.
 
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
8,876
Location
Mill Creek, WA.
Jason I am always amazed at your images. I could not believe the detail you were able to pull out at ISO 2500. Some day I will have to find out your PP work flow as it is sure good. Hope that we can all get out shooting new subjects in the next month. I know I am really looking forward to our fall and winter seasons. Also I would love to see a wide shot of the project as it sounds really interesting. Well done.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2008
Messages
811
Location
South Mississippi
Marvelous series Jason. Adding water source of some kind to my backyard area has been "fermenting" in my mind for some time. Guess it is time to really get serious about it if I want to get it done. You have also given me inspiration to test widening my ISO range. Now if I could just find a 600VR under the Xmas tree. HAHA.
 
D

DW Brewer

Guest
Good imaging my friend. I second the bubbler idea. I have some water features near my feeder complex and the garden. I too, opted to place the water in the shade, but that was more for control of algae than for photography.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2009
Messages
1,153
Location
Southern Indiana
Jason,

The detail on these is amazing, especially considering the high ISO shots. Once again, your technique and tenacity have provided flawless results. Well done!!

Bill
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
1,420
Location
St. Louis, MO
Thanks for all the replies folks. I am in the process of writing an in-depth article showing the construction of this bubbler. I have images during the process and of course the finished product. Once done, I will post it for sure.

Sure hope there are more warblers to come through yet, but it might be about over. Lots of winter sparrows are showing up, seasons are for sure changing.
 
D

darreno1

Guest
Beautiful shots!!
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
6,341
Location
Chicago "burbs"
Absolutely incredible Jason. The 600 naked is unmatched for small birds case closed.

Edit:

Iso 2500 on a D300... Wow. I always thoght 800 was the "wall" on a D300. I'm gonna have to learn how to do that!!!
 
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