During a recent visit to Hendrie Valley I had the opportunity to capture some photographs of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. This is a very common bird found throughout much of North America. During breeding season their range extends into the far north reaching Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
They tend to gather around trees and shrubs. Often multiple birds can be found in the same tree. This was the case during my visit to Hendrie Valley.
Backyard birders can attract a Yellow-rumped Warbler with sunflower seeds, peanut butter, raisins and suet.
As warblers go, the Yellow-rumped warbler is fairly large. They have full bodies, a large head and a long, narrow tail.
They are typically 12 to 14 centimeters (~4.7 to 5.5 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 19 to 23 centimeters (~7.5 to 9.1 inches). They are roughly the same size as a Black Capped Chickadee.
These small birds tend to be quite skittish and never seem to stay perched in the same spot very long. I used Pro Capture H for all of the photographs featured in this article.
I used my standard Pro Capture H settings as detailed in the Technical Note at the end of this article.
I didn’t use any teleconverters with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom in order to maximize the available light and also take advantage of the increased depth-of-field that comes from using a somewhat shorter focal length.
When using an aperture of f/6.3 and a focal length of 400 mm with a M4/3 camera, the depth of field of a subject about 6 metres away is about 4 centimeters, or just under 2 inches.
Shooting from a longer distance to subject can increase the depth-of-field significantly. For example, shooting from a subject distance of 9 metres, rather than 6 metres, more than doubles the depth-of-field when an identical focal length and aperture are used.
When photographing small birds like a Yellow-rumped Warbler it is important to consider how depth-of-field changes based on lens focal length, aperture and subject distance. This is especially true if you want to capture them in flight,
When using Pro Capture H the first frame locks focus and exposure for the balance of the image run. This means that a bird flying towards your camera, or away from you, can quickly fly out of focus.
When photographing the Yellow-rumped Warbler in this article, I tried my best to position myself at right angles to the bird’s anticipated flight path or hopping action.
The flight direction of a Yellow-rumped Warbler can be very difficult to anticipate. Even a very quick glance over the bird’s shoulder can send it flying in a totally different direction than anticipated. I was able to get a few nice Pro Capture H image runs. An example is the next 4 consecutive photographs below. These four images were captured in a total of 1/15th of a second.
I did capture the occasional unobstructed photograph of a Yellow-rumped Warbler in flight. Most of my images contained a lot of the surrounding foliage… which I quite liked as it added environmental context to the photographs.
There were a number of other photographers at Hendrie Valley during my visit. Some of them were completely focused on larger birds like Great Blue Herons, egrets and ospreys. I also enjoy photographing these other species, but in some ways it is more challenging to photograph a bird like a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
These small birds quickly jump and dart about making it difficult to achieve focus on them. I used a single, small auto-focus point so I could shoot past branches and foliage. Using a small, single point also allowed me to place it on even a tiny portion of the bird that may have been visible.
At times photographing a Yellow-rumped Warbler was like a “Where’s Waldo?” exercise… with the bird buried in foliage and only fully emerging once it took flight.
All things considered it was an enjoyable visit and a lot of fun photographing these Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard approach in post. Images were resized for web use. I used my typical settings for Pro Capture H with my Pre-Shutter Frames and Frame Limited both set to 15. A small, single auto-focus point was used, along with a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second. This is the 1,209 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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