The Northern Cardinal is actually one of few birds whose population has grown in the last fifty years. They like dense shrubby areas like forest edges, overgrown fields, backyards and regrowing forests. They nest in the dense shrubs and perch from the highest branches to sing their very conspicuous birdie, birdie, birdie whistle song.
In the last week or so, at least six different photographer friends have encouraged me (once again!) to begin shooting my photographs ‘raw’. Now, of course, I didn’t really know what ‘raw’ meant. It turns out that when a digital camera saves a picture in a jpeg format, it has already begun making decisions on processing the photo. In the raw format, the camera records all the image data recorded by the camera sensor. The photographer has to make all of the processing decisions, resulting in greater flexibility.
Today, the weather was cloudy, drizzly, and dark – lousy conditions for photographing birds. So I decided to stay local, take a drive around my immediate neighborhood, take photographs in the raw format, and ‘develop’ the photos in photoshop. I usually avoid photographing birds on a day like today. The 500mm Sigma lens, in particular, takes very grainy photos in these lighting conditions. So today was a really good day to try out the raw format and see if it made any difference.
It did make quite a difference, particularly with the photos where there was little, if any, need to crop the photo.
The photo below, of the Cardinal, would have been a total waste in jpeg, with the grey, cloudy, backlit sky. In the raw format, while still not a great photo, it’s not too bad!
The bonus to all of this is that there were a variety of birds on this little drive. A little juvenile Pied-Billed Grebe was swimming about in one of the creeks around the neighborhood. All in all, it was a nice way to spend a drizzly Sunday afternoon. And I can’t wait for a sunny day to try the raw format out again!
Taken earlier this week, the birds on and around Schoolhouse Pond posed ever so nicely for the camera!
Best of all, it’s staying light past six o’clock, giving the gift of an hour or so of birding time on the way home from work – another sign of spring!!
Though they are getting longer, the days are still too short to do much evening birding. So today, I’ll just show a few backyard birds that have been around for the last few days.
Red bird came all winter
Firing up the landscape
As nothing else could.
~ Mary Oliver
One of my favorite poems is Mary Oliver’s ‘Redbird’. Yesterday morning, a flock of Northern Cardinals was foraging in a thicket of Bittersweet vines at Ft. Smallwood State Park. They truly did light up the landscape.
I barely get an hour of sunlight in on my evening bird walks after work. They are, however, wonderful hours. This evening I stopped at Watkins Park to see if the Barred Owls were out and about. No luck in that department. There were Wrens everywhere, but they were more heard than seen, foraging low to the forest floor hidden in the foliage that is now turning the color of their chestnut coats. I did get a few pictures in the waning light.
When I was watching the Warblers this past weekend, there was this one Cardinal who kept flying in the periphery of my vision, making it hard to concentrate on the Warblers, almost demanding that I take his picture. I finally conceded. He was the most raggedy looking molting Cardinal I’ve ever seen, seemingly the town drunkard of the Cardinal community.