Yellow-rumped Warblers – What A Difference The Setting Can Make!

I think I was becoming lulled into accepting and even presuming the same old boring settings for Yellow-rumped Warblers.


1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I’ve been photographing Yellow-rumped Warblers in a tree cluttered with branches near my home for a couple of weeks now and I was always delighted when I could occasionally (actually very rarely) get a clean background like I got in this photo taken a week ago today. The bird is sharp and in nice light, there are no distracting branches in the background and I even like the curved perch.

But it’s still a “bird on a stick” and in my view there’s something missing necessary to bring it up a notch.



1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

And that “something” is a more interesting and appealing setting and background. I photographed this warbler yesterday morning at Bear River MBR on a perch I like and with a background that I find much more appealing. Most of the colors and textures come from curly dock in the background and I love the burnt sienna/cinnamon tones it provides.

It may still be a bird on a stick but for my tastes this “stick” is much more interesting than tree branches and so is the background.



1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The warbler even gave me a much deserved dubious look for a moment which I quite like though I do wish the white spot on its tail wasn’t quite so bright (I did tone it down a little).

I also wish I’d had enough time with this bird to take some verticals with more depth of field to feature even more of the perch. I think it’s potentially more interesting than many perches I see “nature” photographers choose when they shoot setups…






24 comments to Yellow-rumped Warblers – What A Difference The Setting Can Make!

  • Alice Beckcom

    I’m sure that my view is different than many others, if not all, about the first photo. However, I like the first picture and background the most. The twig has colors orange/yellow that accent the birds tones in its wing.

    The 2nd and 3rd photos have absolutely great colors and enhance the colors of the bird in a different way.

    In the 3rd photo, I also think that the background enhances the colors in the bird and love seeing the legs and feet.

    Thank you, Ron

  • April Olson

    I love the beautiful warm browns

  • Love the autumnal shades – but would be over the moon to get any of those shots.
    So happy to hear that Shannon and her family weren’t caught up in the latest obscenity.

    • Laura Culley

      Obscenity…that’s the right word! I’m only a little more than an hour’s drive from there. I’d thought about going to a Judy Collins/Stephen Stills concert there, but have rethought that. But the reality is we’re not safe anywhere now.

    • Thank you, EC. It was pretty tense around here for a while.

  • Laura Culley

    There’s only so much you can do with a dead/dying tree/branches as a background. Like everybody else, I prefer the last two shots because of the far more interesting (to me) colors and shadings.
    I’m always amazed at the folks who think (actually BELIEVE) that birds can’t do facial expressions! Seriously? REALLY? They can’t see that blatantly obvious dubiousity? (Yes, I’ve made up a word–I’m a seasoned profession. Do NOT try this at home. LOL!) Clueless folks are so annoying!
    When I first read your comments, I thought you meant camera settings, and while I wouldn’t understand it even if you explained it in kindergarten-level simplicity, that’s where I thought you were going with this one. I GET background settings, so all is good.
    Once again, you ROCK!
    Delighted that Shannon and family are safe…well, as safe as a person CAN be in this country!

  • Patty Chadwick

    Like all three images ,but last two are definitely more appealing….for all the reasons you stated….

  • Dick Harlow

    Great images Ron.
    As a biologist I’m not fussy, generally, about picture settings for birds unless there is a ton of stuff deflecting the image. Therefore, I have never (so far) had a problem with any of your settings on your posts. I feel that way because of your honesty, I trust you! I have a real problem with made-up poses for wildlife unless the photographer is forth coming about their settings. And, I don’t see any reason not to have natural settings in filed guides or books. Just my bias.

  • Susan Stone

    Those sienna/cinnamon tones make for a really nice background for this bird. The background colors actually pick up colors in the bird that I wouldn’t otherwise notice. And I love the dubious look in the last shot.

  • Marty K

    Love the warm browns in the background. He’s definitely giving you “the eye” in that last shot. 🙂

  • frank sheets

    Fall colors and the warbler is fluffed up. Winter is coming. The later two images tell a story that the first one doesn’t. Whether its a true story or not. Nice!

  • Judy Gusick

    “Setting” sure makes a difference. 🙂 Bird on a stick is OK for the “bird books”, BUT much prefer the 2nd and 3rd shots which are wonderful! I wasn’t aware Shannon was in Las Vegas tho knew she’d left Florida. “Tense” is an understatement until you could reach her! Off we go on gun control – again – and guns and ammo will be flying out of the stores – again – neither safe nor productive when that starts happening.

    • Thank you, Judy. I agree.

      Yes, I had three very tense hours early Monday morning before I heard from Shannon and family (who now live in Vegas) and found out they were safe. They attend a lot of musical events and their tastes are eclectic so I was very worried. Shannon’s husband actually drove right in front of the Mandalay Bay Hotel a short time before the shooting as he was on his way home from the airport.