The Making of "Blue Tit and Blossom"

The winning image in our "Spring Colors" photo contest

By PF Staff in Photo Contests on Jun 14, 2014

"Blue Tit and Blossom" by Dr Orloff

This particular shot is one of those fortunate occasions where all the elements of a pre-envisaged image come together.    Spring is the perfect moment to capture garden birds but the opportunity is fleeting, the blossom starts to fade almost as soon as it arrives.  

I treated the set up like an outdoor, natural studio.  The look I wanted to replicate was that of oriental art.  Using string and tent pegs I arranged the low hanging branches of a tree against the background of the stone walls of the barn to create the canvas for the subject.  A feeder was strategically placed out of shot to entice the bird into the right position.  It took some behavioural study and some maneuvering to perfect the set up.  

I was crouched in a tent with the camera (K5 and DA* 300mm) tripod mounted.  Even at 300mm you need to be pretty close, but the blue tit is a bold bird and it only took a couple of days for them to become completely accustomed to my presence.    

Then it was just a question of awaiting the right light and the right moment.   I wanted a bright day but with enough light cloud to provide a gentle, warm late afternoon light.   Diffuse light was crucial  as blossom and white feathers can be very easily blown.  I was lucky as these conditions persisted for several days. 

It was then a case of the subject appearing in just the right place – I mean an exact spot.  These birds don't stay still, once in position the opportunity for the shot lasts for maybe one second, two if you are lucky, and they twitch constantly so I erred on the side of caution with a very fast shutter speed of 1/1600th second at ISO 400 and F8.   

A lot of patience was required and this is one of just a very few shots that all came together in a ten day stakeout.  The post processing on the raw file was really just some work on the tones, the key really was to maintain concentration for that split second of opportunity for each hour or two of waiting.

- Dr Orloff

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