Anatomy of a photo #58: Song Sparrow perched on grass

Nature amazes me sometimes. How a bird can be supported so easily by the grasses that we think of as so weak...

I have better, higher definition photographs of many birds, including song sparrows, but it isn’t always about having high detail in nature photographs. Sometimes, the story told by an image that zooms out a little, takes in more of the environment can say much more about the subject.

A close up image, where I can see all of the detail in a birds feathers says little about the bird’s size and habits. This image however, of a sparrow clutching a few strands of grass tells the viewer that this bird is small and light. It shows scale against the grasses, but also shows how they are able to support it. It also shows where this sparrow is comfortable, what part of its habitat is, possibly even where some of its food may come from.

The composition of this photo is also pleasing. The tops of the grasses are visible (for the most part. Nothing is really centered in the image. The sparrow is down and to the side. The grasses criss cross while stretching towards the top of the frame. The shallow depth of field grabs and focuses just on the bird and and a narrow row of grass, everything else that is not important blurred away from our consciousness. A simple image with little distraction.

ISO 200, 420mm, f/5.6, 1/800th second

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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