Thursday, March 22, 2012

Getting Super Saturated on Evening Light

By and large, the best birding and photography is done in the morning. The birds are active, the lighting is good, there are less other people in the way, and one has the comfort of knowing that at least things will only get brighter. That all being said, I really enjoy birding in the evening. It's harder to get crisp, well exposed shots, and time is wholly against you, but there's just something about that evening feel that I find irreplaceable.

There was a strong breeze on this Cardinal as he basked in the evening glow. On Cardinals the orange lighting seems especially noticeable. All of their feathers seem to melt together into one regal red cloak.

At times the effect is almost too much. Here the feather definition near the face is mostly lost (granted some of that was my error), but I find the bright illumination to be very refreshing. Perhaps it's that the high and bright Arizona sun so often bleaches out colors. It's nice to have natural lighting bring a new color to the fore.

I photographed this Verdin last year, also at the Desert Botanical Garden. It was using the last minutes of daylight to fill up on lantana berries, and made for a wonderful color palette with the yellow face, green foliage, and cobalt blue berries.

This insectivorous female Red-Shafted Flicker was also feeding, though her antipasti (hehe get it?) was less photogenic. There's not much yellow or orange natural light here, but the overall dimness maintains that evening feel. The sun is below the horizon and finally things are cooling down.

As things start to heat up again in Phoenix, evening birding will have a more prominent role. With a little luck, evening birders will get see Nighthawks and Owls going out to feed, before heading in for some dinner of their own.