I especially like photographing tiny birds that can be easily missed. Sometimes they can be glimpsed foraging in the canopy or going into hiding on a flurry of little wings; bird watchers often given them the generic label LBBs or Little Brown Birds. When these tiny birds are seen up close, or enlarged to several times their size on a screen, it is easy to see how exquisite they are. Perhaps LBB should really stand for Little Beautiful Birds.
The male Red-browed Finch above paused for a split second in the dip of the branch, I held my breath as he hopped towards the low spot, turning to face each direction, looking up and down, spinning around to face the other way before looking towards me for the briefest of moments. Did you notice that his right foot isn’t touching the branch? As soon as touchdown occurred he pushed himself into flight.
To give an idea of scale, the side of the branch with the lichen is the same width as my thumb – so, if you adjust the size of the image until the branch is thumb-sized you’ll be able to see exactly how tiny this little finch would be if it was sitting on your hand. I was rapt to load the image into Lightroom and see that it was sharp, well-exposed and that there is a catch light in the eye; it doesn’t always happen that way!
Canon 5D Mk III, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1000, f/5.6, +1 1/3 EV, ISO 1600, focal length 400mm
The image above is a juvenile Red-browed Finch that is just developing its scarlet eyebrow and the scarlet sides to its bill. As it grows its eye will also change to the reddish-brown eye of an adult. I like the way the narrow depth of field shows that the finch’s tummy feathers are soft, in the literal and photographic sense of the word.
This scratching shot made me smile, it was a clever bit of balancing.
The image above is a female Red-browed Finch. The eyebrow of the females tapers to a fine, ladylike point rather than the blockier eyebrow of the males.
As Red-browed Finches prefer to be in small flocks I usually see several birds together but its not often they are on the same focal plane and facing the camera. I’ll have to experiment with a smaller aperture and see if I can get shots that include a row of these finches. The finch shot I visualise most often is a bird on a seedhead, with the grass stem bending gently as the late afternoon sun adds a warm glow to the scene.
Next time you’re in the bush and you see some LBBs remember that they could be LBBs.
Happy birding, Kim
PS The Equipment page has been updated to include the 5D Mark III and various other items.
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