Western Bluebird, male

They’ve built the nest and won’t have much action until they’re feeding babies. But I understand they can build several nests and then decide which one to use, and I’ve seen them at a couple of other nest boxes, including the one where the Tree Swallows were hanging out. I didn’t see them today and wonder if I missed something?

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon R5, 1000mm, f/14, ISO 1600, 1/250, soft morning light. Basic shadows and highlights in LR, a little canvas added on the left and top. Nothing heroic done.

I’ve been obsessing about sharpness and the main degrading factor seems to be atmospheric/thermal turbulence. It really shows when I zoom in and watch the sensor, not touching the camera. When I touch it, even trying to steady it in various ways, the other big issue is that there is a lot of elasticity in the tripod foot.


Yes, atmospherics really come into play with 1000mm of lens. And any vibration on the tripod or camera will be greatly amplified. I would think it might be better to just hand hold and let the lens/body image stabilization do its magic. I know at f/14 you wanted to get the whole bird in focus and you definitely accomplished that. But you might have been able to go to f/11 and maybe 1/500 sec with the IS on…something to experiment with I guess.

Oh, forgot to say that I love the bird, the pose, the background. Excellent image, Diane.

Thanks, @David_Bostock! Unfortunately, f/14 is wide open with the 100-500 + 2X. I’m going to try the 600 f/4 + 2X for an f/8 comparison. But at this close range, DOF will suffer. Even at f/14 it is not enough for most poses. This one had most of the body in the focal plane, but that’s not usually the case.

f/8 will let me go to a lower ISO, as I strongly prefer to shoot in shade or dappled semi-shade, or on cloudy days, which I’ll have again in a couple of days, but which are rare during bird-hunting season.

I’m also going to try a beanbag, which might be a little better than hand holding.

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The colors and detail in the bluebird are excellent. Nice pose and the background colors seem perfect for the bird.

A gorgeous image of a beautiful bird. I love the wing feather pattern down the back. Colours are great. Once again on such a limited palette.

I am not knowledgeable concerning Western Bluebirds, but our Eastern Bluebirds will sometimes build a nest and then wait a day or two, then come back and begin laying eggs. She may even pause for a day or two while laying eggs, then resume laying.

Anyway, very nice look at a beautiful specimen.


I like the colors and the soft lighting helped to pull up those blues in the plumage. There’s some moire patterns on some of the feathers that results from the features of the sensor in your camera. Tweak up the midtone contrast to bring out the details in the feathers if so desired. You may want to try a cable release for your camera to eliminate any vibration when taking the photo. You also might be getting a little diffraction at f14 as well. Still a wonderful shot at 1000mm…Jim

Thanks, @Jim_Zablotny – I’m not seeing moiré – can you pinpoint which feathers? It’s certainly something to watch out for, with fine feather detail.

I’ve tried locking the head and using a cable release, but in order to use eye detection I need to have the initial focus sensor on the bird or focus jumps to the BG. I might try using the back screen folded out and touching it lightly to acquire initial focus then using the cable release. A half-press should do eye detect. I’ll experiment.

I can check diffraction with the macro lens if I can find a good target.

Look at the secondary feathers on the wings and you will see nearly vertical parallel lines which is due to interference patterns generated by the feathers and picked up by your camera’s sensor. It is one of the hazards of our high performance cameras that lack anti-aliasing filters on the sensor. Still not a deal breaker for this fine image…Jim

@Jim_Zablotny, I think I’m only seeing the feather structure here, interacting somewhat with the level of noise?? Here’s a screenshot of a 100% view of the raw file. Am I missing something?

The R5 does have a low pass / anti-alias filter, but I’m sure it can be overwhelmed in some circumstances.

Here is a 100% of the final NR file: