Getting an image of a baby bluebird doesn’t have to be complicated. And sometimes the planets will align just right, especially when the photographer is prepared. In this case the weather was fine, not to hot and not to cold, there was high cloud cover so the light was like a giant soft box. Can’t ask for much better conditions.
With songbirds it’s not that often that everything works to give the photographer a great setup. Be thankful when it happens and don’t let it slip by. With this capture I also had the good fortune to get a great color balance and a soft background. That’s the huge advantage of being able to set up the shot in your own backyard. I was experimenting with the Sigma 70-200mm EX lens with the 1.4 teleconverter. On an APS-C camera, like my Sony, it effectively gives you a 420mm focal length when maxed out, which is exactly where I was when this little guy posed for me. I was using manual focus and the extra few seconds he posed allowed me to dial it in. Nothing wrong with a little old school technique.
The old school philosophy also suggests using an aperture that gives you the best focus possible in the circumstances. In this case f/5.6. That keeps both the extreme foreground and anything in the background soft. The Sigma telephoto has 9 aperture blades and good optics so in most cases those out of focus areas look nice an smooth. This is a case where smooth is important. The viewer should focus on the texture and detail of the subject. Busy and high contrast stuff going on in the background will be a distraction. Setting up in a blind and dialing in the camera and lens settings before the shot is a huge advantage. You’re set up and ready to go, both with the mechanics of the shot as well as mentally. When the subject arrives, it’s just a matter of dialing in that critical focus adjustment and clicking that shutter.
Nice when preparation pays off and things work out. Makes for a most excellent day, and a nice shot of a baby bluebird.