American Kestrel (Male) — A Splash Of Color In A Monochromatic World

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I greeted overcast days with dismay when I first began making wildlife photographs.  My assumption was that cloudy skies would lead to muddy, unattractive images.  I believed that bright sunlight, preferably sunlight that directly illuminated my subject, was the only way to get bright and colorful photos.  I often stayed home on cloudy days, believing that making pictures under overcast conditions would be pointless.

How incredibly wrong I was!  It turns out that overcast skies — especially skies that are lightly overcast — often produce lighting that is superior to direct sunlight for nature photography.  Overcast light is softer and often more flattering than direct sunlight.  It is certainly less contrasty than sunlight and it lends itself at times to capturing more detail than is possible on a sunny day.  Moreover, overcast skies often produce monochromatic backgrounds that contrast well with my subjects, especially when my subjects are colorful.

All of which leads me to this image:

I went for a drive on an overcast morning a few days ago.  Wildlife was especially active that morning and I brought back quite a few images of several species.  Among my “captures” was a male American Kestrel perched atop a dead weed a few yards from the side of a rural road.  

Kestrels — especially males — are quite colorful and this little male certainly proves that point.  In the image his bright rufous back and his blue outer wings are evident.  But, what I really love about the image is that the kestrel is a burst of color against an almost completely monochromatic background.  The bird really stands out, serving as a bright counterpoint to the remainder of the image’s grayness.  

I’ve made a few photos of kestrels this past winter.  I’d rank this one as my favorite.  I would have been happy with this bird had I photographed him in brilliant sunshine, but I feel that here, the gray skies and the monochromatic setting are a real plus.

Image made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 800, f6.3 @ 1/1250.

One Reply to “American Kestrel (Male) — A Splash Of Color In A Monochromatic World”

  1. Very Nice Steven! Beautiful image of a beautiful bird!

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