The American Goldfinch is a beautiful finch with a pretty song. It is so well liked that it is the state bird in three states. Can you name them?
It is a gorgeous evening at the Education and Visitor Center on Highway 28. A cheery field of yellow coneflowers is in full bloom next to the parking area. Goldfinches are flitting about. They are more interested in the Bull Thistles along the edge of the field than they are in the coneflowers. The thistle’s bright pink flowers are a wonderful contrast to the sunny yellow field behind them. American Goldfinches are vegetarians. They love the seeds of the Bull Thistle. Downy white fibers are being flung everywhere as they hungrily eat the seeds while perched on the flower heads.
I heard one singing outside my bedroom window recently. I wondered what bird had such a lovely song. A Goldfinch was perched on a tree branch several feet from my window. I could not resist taking a photo but I had to shoot through the window screen. I stood several feet away from the screen and the bird was several feet behind the screen. I chose the widest aperture I could with the lens I was using. (f 6.3 at 600 mm) By choosing a wide aperture with a shallow depth of field, I was able to get the bird in focus and the screen went out of focus, essentially disappearing. This technique would not have worked if the bird was right next to the screen.
Whether they are out in the wild, or out in the yard, American Goldfinches are a delight. Are you still wondering about the three states? They are Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington.
This ruggedly handsome Great Egret is adorned with his white breeding plumes cascading over his tail. The plumes are present only in spring and early summer. Both male and female egrets have them. Once valued for use on hats, egrets were almost hunted to extinction. Great Egrets are aptly named since they are the largest egret.
It was a highlight to see this beautiful bird roosting in a tree today, but, as you can see, I blew the highlights. Some of the white feathers are overexposed. Once that happens, there is no getting the detail back in post processing. What can I do to improve this photo? Here are 6 strategies to deal with overexposure on white birds.
I am excited to try these strategies and stop overexposing the abundant white feathered birds at the Horicon Marsh. I will let you know how the strategies work in a future post.
If you would like to read an excellent article about the manual exposure mode written by John and Barbara Gerlach you can find it here. You might also like their book Digital Wildlife Photography. Their chapter on exposure strategies will give you more details and examples.
What strategies do you use to keep from overexposing your shots? Join the discussion in the comments section.
 John Eastman, Birds of Lake, Pond and Marsh: Water and Wetland Birds of Eastern North America (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999), 200.