Loggerhead Shrikes – Different Backgrounds and Light

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A perched adult Loggerhead Shrike and clear skyA perched adult Loggerhead Shrike and clear sky – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Both of these Loggerhead Shrikes were photographed on Antelope Island State Park, both of them are adults, both were photographed when the sky was clear and both were perched on a dead twig of a greasewood but they were also photographed with different backgrounds, different times of the morning and different light.

The photo above shows the shrike perched in front of the Great Salt Lake with the pastel blue sky that you find early in the morning, 7 am on a May morning to be precise. The light was soft and contrast was low. To my eye the image is simple, pleasing and shows off the soft gray, white and black plumage of the shrike well.

Perched adult Loggerhead ShrikePerched adult Loggerhead Shrike – Nikon D810, f10, 1/640, ISO 250, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Loggerhead Shrike was photographed yesterday with Buffalo Point on the island in the distant background, the slopes are covered in brown and tan rocks and dried out grasses, the time was 10:17 am. The sun was higher in the sky than it was in the first image above and by the time I took this photo the light was harsher and the shadows under the tail were darker. To my eye this image shows the gray, white and black plumage of the shrike well even though the light was higher and not really in what I would call the “sweet light” that I prefer to use when photographing birds. I like this image but perhaps not nearly as much as the one with the blue background and softer light.

It is really a matter of personal taste but as a photographer I’m always taking into consideration what background is behind my subject and the quality of the light. There are so many things that can make or break an image.

The Loggerhead Shrikes on the island have commenced with singing, if you can call it that, on their territories hoping to attract and find their mates. The human calendar might not say it is spring yet but the shrikes don’t seem to care about our calendar at all, they are acting like spring has already arrived.

Life is good.



  1. Elephant's Child February 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I would trust a bird’s assessment about Spring much more than the calendar.
    And I do love these feisty little assassins. Thank you.

  2. Patty Chadwick February 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Great shots of a feisty little predator…I especially like the first with the rufflely feathers…

  3. Ricardo Bitran February 29, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Mia, I like the second image much better, probably because It has greater tonal contrast between the background and the subject, so the bird stands out, and because the background is warm, contrasting better with the cool shades of the Shrike. Both are fine images, though.

  4. Cindy February 29, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Who are we to argue with nature. Spring has sprung. Your images are always pure perfection, Mia. Thank you!

  5. Bob McPherson February 29, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Incredibly beautiful images, Mia.

  6. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver February 29, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Such a striking bird, lovely call. We don’t have them up here (though so close to northern shrike)! Thanks for the lesson in background color!

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