Chukar Calling In Warm Light

There are many things I like about this shot and only one I don’t. A ratio that good doesn’t happen often enough with this bird photographer.


1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + EF, not baited, set up or called in

This is an older image of a calling Chukar on Antelope Island. The photo was taken in June and that time of year Chukars are often calling from elevated perches and on the island that usually means boulders and smaller rocks.

For my tastes this photo has a lot going for it. Following is what I like about the image:

  • This calling pose is significantly more interesting than a static shot of a perched bird with no behavior involved.
  • The light is warm and soft. The photo was taken at 6:38 AM very soon after I arrived on the island. I love this kind of light for many reasons, among them the fact that it softens the glaring whiteness of these Tintic Quartzite boulders that predominate on the north end of the island that Chukars like to perch on and call from.
  • The lovely and soft background bokeh, especially with those out of focus yellow flowers partially framing the bird.
  • The Chukar is sharp and sidelit just enough to add some shading to its back which I think contributes to the strengths of the image. If the sun had been directly behind me I don’t believe the photo would appeal to me as much as it does.


What I don’t like (you knew I’d have a nit to pick).

  • For me the bird is just a little too tight up top – it just feels slightly crowded up there so I wish I had a few more pixels in that direction. But the photo is full frame vertically and cropped only slightly horizontally (as presented this version is 83.5% of the original image) so I’ll just live with it.

In this case it would be a simple matter to add more canvas at the top of the frame but I just don’t like to do that. I’ve done it before (with disclosure of course) and I’m sure I’ll be seduced into doing it again but I resist the temptation when I can…



23 comments to Chukar Calling In Warm Light

  • Joanne OBrien

    What a gorgeous photo Ron! I’d really like to meet up with those cute birds some day. I am on 2 week run of “all work and no play” (boo-hoo)and I’m just now catching up with your blog entries. And what a pleasure it is! Thanks.

  • Alice Beckcom

    Ron, all I can say is this is a beautiful bird. You made it more beautiful with the right time of day when the light was ‘warm and soft’.

    The orange coloring on the eyes, the bill and the feet really enhance the orange coloring on the bird’s back and feather tips.

    It almost looks like a painting.

    Thank you so much for sharing and being up so early!!

  • Laura Culley

    OK you silly nit picker, you! This is a gorgeous image and most of the photographers here would give their right arm for this shot! Not me, of course. I’ve given up on figuring out this photography thing and my right arm is my only partially operational appendage! I’d offer the left, but it’s a reasonably good perch.
    Sure would like to catch one of those critters one day, but I’d have to move again and that ain’t happening (I hope…in the context of never say never!) Quail will have to suffice, despite that Jack doesn’t seem to recognize them as edible/catchable (and that despite that his primary diet is quail…go figure). Pat Henson will celebrate Jack’s silliness 🙂

  • Mia is eagle eyed, but where nits are concerned your vision is incredible. You see nits where lesser mortals see nuffin.
    Love seeing the chukar in such warm light and agree with Susan Stone. There is more space above the birds head than its feet which works for me.

  • Patty Chadwick

    I love the background and the light in this shot…especially the way the out of focus flowers frame the calling bird. There is something very soothing about this image that my soul is thirsty for….nice!!!

  • Susan Stone

    It’s interesting to me that this shot was originally vertical, because when I read what you don’t like, the first thing I thought about was making it vertical. But I dismissed that fairly quickly because I figured there wouldn’t be enough room in front of the bird, and that would be way worse than not quite enough room at the top. I actually like the photo as is, because there is more space between the head and the top of the photo than there is between the feet and the bottom edge. That makes it more comfortable for me.

    • Thanks, Susan. Actually, this shot wasn’t “originally vertical”. What I meant to convey was that the photo as presented here is full frame (uncropped) vertically.

  • Marty K

    Picky! Picky! 😉 This is a fantastic shot — I noticed the warm light and the floral frame right away. And that lovely red beak and eye. What a fabulous way to start my day!

  • April Olson

    Very nice. After I talked to you and Mia on Sunday, where we talked about not seeing as many chukars, as I was leaving the island I saw a flock of over 20 Chukars in the boulders. When ever I run into you a Mia in the field it seems just after talking to you I see something wonderful. You two must bring out the best in the wildlife! I have a few photos but none very sharp, they were just out of range for my lens and I was shooting into the sun.

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful! I agree with your “nit pick” BUT it is a nit pick given the over all beauty of the photo. 🙂

  • Charlotte Norton

    Super shot Ron!


  • Diane Bricmont

    Beautiful way to start my day! Thanks, Ron!