photographing crows (and other dark birds)

I suspect they are not all Crows, there may be a small mob of Ravens living close enough to their smaller cousins allowing me to get them confused. One of the defining characteristics of them is Ravens will soar like vultures, Crows do not. They have completely occupied the wild Pecan grove scattered willy nilly over an acre or so. Early this morning I moved my camera equipment to enable me to take photos of perching Corvids. I have made many attempts to capture detailed images of them, I have a number of them flying. Today was no exception, I was disappointed with my results as I want them fantastic right out of the camera with little or minimal editing.

I performed heavy editing on the image above, it remains with hardly any detail. I’m looking for distinctive feathers, eyes and leg details, all are lacking in this picture. I had waited for a while for a bird to land on the top of this Pecan tree, finally one did. I suspect the lack of detail may be due to two factors; camera adjustments, perhaps my ISO needs to be higher (it was set at 1000). Second the Sun may have been much too intense although it was fairly early this morning.

The image above was taken a few weeks ago, the sun is projecting on the bird from the side of the rising sun. Although the detail is better the picture is slightly out of focus making it hard on the eye. The composition is wrong as well due to the clear blue sky background however black and dark birds are tough to photograph. Against a busier background I have discovered why they are black, blending in with the shadows is their defense.

Against a black or shadowed background (this image has both) it is difficult for me to separate the bird from it all. This image is easier than most but it is a good display of the issues I have encountered. It is also easier to capture detail on a flying Crow than a stationary one.

I was optimistic about this picture when it was taken, I felt it was the perfect shot. However again the detail is just not there, I stopped editing this having decided it’s a lost cause.

The image above is a bit more distinct, however it’s not what I was after, this guy’s flying as well. I seem to have practiced enough to be proficient with flying Crows, my goal is to produce a few good quality perching images. The distance is correct, camera settings need a little work as does the focusing.

Cormorants, Red Wing Blackbirds and Cow birds are all difficult for me to photograph from a distance and get a bit of detail. Images from more than 75 yards makes the birds appear to be dark black blobs, I no longer attempt that; I’d rather beat my head on a brick. I’m sure it’s not an insurmountable task to figure out now that I’m on the path to discovery, every day I’m getting a bit closer.

Jacques Lebec Flutter Shutter

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