Male Blackpoll Warbler

This is a first for me - first sighting and first photo. You guys are going to make a bird photographer out of me yet! I am so over the moon with the shots from this session.

From the deck I noticed this cute little bird foraging for insects in the hornbeam saplings that surround the yard. One of the reasons we bought this house is because the deck is 15 feet up. I could NEVER have gotten this shot from the ground since he never went lower. Luckily he didn’t go higher.

This is a male and his mate was nearby and I got some good shots of her, too. They migrate about 2000 miles from winter territory in northern South America, to their summer breeding grounds in northern Canada. They have to double their bodyweight to do it. IRL they’re about 5 inches - chickadee size.

If you look closely at the tree, I think it’s covered in the tiny bugs the birds were eating. No idea what they are, I guess I’d have to go look, but they spent a couple hours in this same general area and gorged themselves. Such a treat.

I have plenty of other keepers, but I liked this one especially since he’s posing so dynamically as he was feeding up and down this tiny tree and because the light and the background is so pleasing. It’s maybe the best bird photo I’ve ever taken. Not that I have much experience.

One thing I have changed recently is the Auto focus setting for my Wildlife Custom Preset. I’ve switched to AFS since it allows me to use focus peaking and to adjust focus using the focus ring. Now I can tell exactly what is crisp and adjust if necessary, which I did a few times. The viewfinder shows me an enlarged view of the area of focus so I can see precisely to fine tune. It worked great and I think I have more keepers from this session than any other birding session. Especially with such tiny birds. Granted, they were only 15-20 feet from me, but it still helped. I had the Animal/Eye detect on as well. If I ever need AFC I only need to flick the switch.

Specific Feedback Requested

Anything that you can think of to improve this.

Technical Details

Handheld with elbows on the deck railing


Lr for a very small crop to vertical and to even out the light somewhat. Used the Select Subject mask to bring up the exposure, texture, clarity and sharpness in the bird. A radial filter to brighten the eye. Lens correction and some sharpening and NR applied. Also toned down the blues since they were present in the white feathers - a reflection of the sky I think. Topaz Sharpen AI - Standard model on auto. Photoshop to remove some branches that were a little much.

1 Like

Good for you, Kris! Outstanding capture.

Wonderful pose you captured here, @Kris_Smith !I love the behavioural action. Great work on the techs as well. Cheers, Hans

Really like the pose you captured, as well as the setting and overall composition. A keeper for sure; well done.

AFS, AFC? I assume this has to do with mirrorless cameras.

Kris, this is a stellar image all around. Wonderful pose, terrific background, and a lot of animation.

Switching to AFS (@Allen_Brooks Autofocus Single shot, versus Autofocus Continuous) was a good move. I have always had better success with AFS unless the subject was moving swiftly.

Great shot!

I like the pose and the debris on the beak. He was munching on some sticky bugs for sure. Getting warblers framed in is one of the toughest challenges for photographers and their quick movements leads to color language by many photographers. Your camera settings and technique created a wonderful photo. Well done…Jim

He has a real sushi counter here and is doing your tree a good service. This excellent shot is his reward!

Nice look at this warbler. Excellent color, detail, pose, and setting. I like the debris on the beak also. Good teaching points with respect to the focus.

I think you’re now a bird photographer!! Congrats on a wonderful “first post”! I like the branch above him mirroring his pose and the OOF leaves at the top acting as a framing element to keep my eye in the frame.

Our cameras are different, but I’ve had my best luck with continuous AF with eye AF, as the bird’s smallest movements can change the distance too much for the DOF. But a smaller sensor gives you more DOF so its maybe not a factor for you. It’s more important when the bird is larger in the frame, as DOF is smaller then.

Thanks @linda_mellor, @Hans_Overduin, @Jim_Zablotny, @David_Bostock, @Allen_Brooks, @David_Schoen, @Mike_Friel & @Diane_Miller - maybe I am a bird photographer. Seriously, the advice here and on a bird photography video I watched were in my head constantly as I shot. Especially the distinction between shooting like a birder and shooting like a photographer. That’s a huge help!

@Jim_Zablotny - I was in such awe of these little ones and the fact that they were putting up with me that I didn’t so much as utter a single euphemism for excrement. :joy:

@David_Bostock is right about the APS v. APC distinction, @Allen_Brooks - although focus peaking is specific to mirrorless and I loves it.

@Diane_Miller - I plan to keep experimenting for sure. There are so many ways to combine different focusing features on this camera that I’m sure there is more than one way to achieve a higher keeper rate. So far this is working well, but as I said, I can always switch to AFC by moving my thumb slightly. Ah the automation I never thought I’d have to manage!


I enjoy seeing birds that are new to me, and this one qualifies. I’ve never heard of this warbler, but warblers in general are difficult to photograph well, and you did a fine job here. Well done.

HI Kristen
The joy of working with a new camera, so many setting to choose from, but if the end results is a photograph like this the effort is worth it. You have sent us a nicely framed , great looking Warbler.

Thanks @terryb & @peter - a new bird for me, too, but not a new camera exactly. Just playing with settings for a new type of photography. Mostly I’ve been a landscape and photographer of very small things, not a wildlife shooter. But now I live where I do, it’s easier and so I’ve gotten my nice long lens and am switching up different functions to see what serves best. Cameras do so much in so many different ways these days that if you explore your menu, it’s almost like getting a new camera. Ditto with major firmware upgrades, which Panasonic does very well to disseminate down to older cameras when possible.