Here's another photograph of the rarely seen Black-billed Cuckoo on West Rock mountain and the behind the scenes details about the shot.
Out of nowhere, an outrageous, milk-chocolate colored bird popped up from the back side of the basalt ridge, landing on an eye-level branch just 45 feet in front of me - surprising both of us. I wasn't even sure what it was until afterwards, but raced to grab some kind of image before the bird realized that he had landed, practically in my lap. The photos are not the sharpest shots, but not bad given the field conditions and timing. For all you nature photography enthusiast out there, here are the stats:
The dark bird was poorly back-lit against the harsh afternoon sky. I shifted a few inches to position a darker tree trunk behind the bird so that the CMOS Sensor wouldn't blow out the reading, and then cranked the ISO, pushed the shutter speed to 1/2000 of a second, opened the aperture wide up, lowered the flash -2, nudged the AWB +1/3 stop and hit the button hard. Thankfully the Canon 7D Mark II crop body captures 10 fps (frames per second) and I was able to grab 10 images between 2:36pm and 2:37pm, in the one second before the bird flew off using a Canon EF 100/400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.
Many folks ask me, "did you take that picture with your iPhone?" This is my first blog post inspired by that question, with more behind-the-scenes, "Stories of the Snap" to follow!