My Quest for a Red Bellied

A tremendous greeting to you and welcome to this weeks post. What’s snapping?

This week I am going to share with you a story regarding a photo that took me a week to get. By rites the subject of the photo was a fairly common visitor but nailing the shot proved to a little more difficult than I had expected. First and foremost the goal of this shot was to show the detail and color patterns that this bird posses. In particular I wanted to show in the photo, the red color that is present in the Red Bellied Woodpeckers eye. I knew that to do this I would have to do some planning and some research before I even touched the camera.

The plan started off with observation. I watched, and recorded the times this woodpecker would hit the feeders, and began to see a pattern. Based on the information I had collected, It was decided that I would snap this photo in the nine o’clock am hour, as the lighting was perfect, and the woodpecker was always on time for his breakfast.  Phase two was positioning. I needed to ensure that my presence would not detour the bird from visiting the feeder. I decided that the best place for me to be to catch the shot was in my cellar. I would be out of sight and able to shoot through an open window, and being that most cellars are dark, any movement on my part would be hidden from a bird’s-eye view. Next up was the selection of a lens. My requirements for this photo would demand the use of a super telephoto lens and I went with the Sigma 100-500mm super zoom.

The research and steps taken, payed off. This is the photo, and here is the setup.

Red Bellied

Canon and Sigma setup. ISO 400, f-stop was 8 , and the shutter was 1/500 of a second.

To some, this may seem like a lot of work just to catch a shot of a simple woodpecker. What I am getting at here by explaining all the steps I took to catch this shot, is the fact that prior preparation always prevents piss poor performance. Any photographer worth his salt will always survey in advance the environment he plans on shooting in. By taking these steps in advance he is ensuring a quality photo. Some will say that is the mark of a professional. Personally I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that the steps I took regarding this photo, were worth it, in the end. On the flip side, often times you cannot preview an environment, but when you can it helps you to prepare for those times in which you can not. In the end prior preparation will simply make you better.

In summary, a photographers  goal is always to capture images that are eye-catching. Research, and understanding light is key to capturing quality images, as well as a good comprehensive understanding of your camera’s settings.


I hope you have enjoyed the post, and please, tell me what you think about the photo. Until next week.

My best,



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