Male downy woodpecker

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Male downy Woodpecker

As I previously wrote, we’ve seen downy woodpeckers every day since putting up the suet feeder. This is a male — easily identified by that red patch on the back of his head.

When I shared a shot of the female I wrote about depth of field and the blurred background, so I’ll continue that thought here. The bird is quite close to the camera: about 10 feet away. Bushes and grass are the background, about 100 feet away. When focusing so close the background falls out of focus very quickly.

A 200 mm lens stopped down to f8 and focused at about 10 feet will only have about 3 inches of depth of field (that is, only about 3 inches is in focus). Effectively, everything past 10 feet is out of focus. (A depth of field calculator is really helpful to see this. The free Field Tools iPhone app is great.) So, the background at 20 feet: a blur; 50 feet: a blur; 100 feet: a blur. A completely blurred background is the only option; the physics of optics provide no other choice.

See the original on Flickr.

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