Blustery White Throated Sparrow

Blustery Sparrow

This white-throated sparrow seems to lean into the wind, his feathers lifted by a stiff winter breeze. This is a crop, framed to take advantage of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds tells us that images look more dynamic to the eye when the points of interest are not positioned in the center.  Rather, the image should be divided by lines into three equal columns and three equal rows. The points of interest should be positioned at the intersections of the lines. In this sparrow image, I positioned the branch along the bottom horizontal third-line; the sparrow is at the right-hand vertical third-line. The feet of the sparrow are at the intersection of the horizontal and the vertical.

I had some latitude in where to place the branch in the frame around the lower third-line. I chose to stay a little on the low side, to give more headroom, and retain the sense that the bird has room to go up, the way birds do. Similarly, another composition element I like is that I could put the trunk of the tree in the image. This anchors the branch, so that it does not seem to float in space.

The white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) is a regular winter visitor in western Pennsylvania. They do not nest here; they move north for the summer. This individual has clear white markings on his head and bib; we also have individuals with where these markings are tan, and not as striking. The white and tan morphs occur in equal numbers within the same population. Interestingly, I learned that the breeding pairs tend to be mixed, i.e, one white and one tan morph.

This photograph was taken with a Nikon D90 and a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR lens, at 300mm. 1/320 sec, ISO 1600; the grain is pretty good for that ISO. I have the aperture set at f/11 for maximum sharpness. The bokeh seems nicely smooth to me even at f/11. I did brighten the bird itself a little with the dodge tool. Other than that the enhancements were routine.


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