Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 13



In this instalment, I'll be discussing EFFECTIVE USE OF LIGHT AND BACKGROUND

Catch lights:  The reflection of light in a subject's eye is called a 'catch light'. This is a very important element in bird photography. The catch light adds a certain spark of life. Without it, a perched bird tends to look like something from a taxidermist's shop window.
Here's a side-by-side example:

    Blow-out: Everyone loves a bright sunny day, but sometimes too much light results in a loss of detail called 'blow-out'. When the white feathers of a bird are over exposed (usually due to strong direct light) the feather detail disappears and we are left with blank white areas. Try to avoid harsh, high contrast situations, but if strong light is unavoidable, adjust your exposure for those bright white spots. Here are a couple of shots that illustrate the effect. The one on the left has a lot of blow-out, but the image on the right is properly exposed and retains the details in the white feathers.








Going for Bokeh: When viewing a photograph, the eye is naturally drawn to objects that are in focus. So ideally, in the case of bird photography, you want the bird to be in focus  and you want everything else to be a blur. A background that is nothing but blurry circles of indistinct objects is called 'bokeh'. Good bokeh will produce the illusion of depth, and make your bird look even sharper. Here's an example:


Well that's it for my series on how to photograph birds. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line at



In this issue, we're featuring the photography of Bob McPherson. He was kind enough to send us a number of remarkable photos. The one above is from his recent trip to Great Bear Lake. The other (which is a personal favourite of mine) is an action shot of a Goldfinch taking a dip in Bob's pond.


The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to:

Here are a couple of more photos from our recent vacation.

The Fall migration is underway!
As the temperatures start to drop, the birds start to move. It's a great time to get out and see some fresh faces. Prince Edward Point has already recorded 113 species, including: Swainson's Thrushes, Red-Eyed Vireos, Belted Kingfishers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, and a variety of Warblers. Click on this link for directions:
Prince Edward Point

What's New this week at

New photos have been added to the following galleries:


Our Garden

How do birds stay cool?

One way is to pant
(like a dog)!

Panting is like sweating in humans. It's a bird's way of expending heat.
A bird's body temperature is higher than human's, but when they need relief, they will pant.

ELAINE'S CORNER ..      The Dog Days of August – I don't know the exact meaning of this expression but to me it says the summer is winding down and we certainly see it in our garden. Flowers are fading, the greens are less vibrant, the shrubs are beginning to look tired... but we still find it peaceful and relaxing sitting in our gazebo at the end of the day. Even though the colours are muted it's still an oasis for us and the activity, while slightly less at times, continues to entertain us. We love to see the birds going from bush to feeder to ground, finding what they need wherever they look. We laugh at the squirrels burying the nuts – only to be recovered by the squirrel watching them and waiting for them to turn their backs! It never gets old!!

It seems like the flowering has finished sooner than usual this year but maybe that's because the season started so early. At least we got to enjoy the spring earlier and maybe we'll be able to enjoy the fine weather for several more weeks!

We feel a great deal of satisfaction when we look at our garden – it's come a long way over just three summers – and I don't think there's too much we still want to add. I haven't really made my choices based on “colours for all seasons” though, so maybe next year I do need to plant a few perennials that will carry on into the fall.

At the moment we have Black-eyed Susans and Turtleheads adding a splash of vibrant colour here and there and, while I'm not partial to mums and marigolds, maybe I can still have fun looking for a few new plants to fill that void.

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   Copyright © 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                          

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