Birding in Costa Rica – Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)



A very common bird in Central America, the Acorn Woodpecker is great fun to photograph. As with most contrasty, colourful birds, the best light is overcast… with the right background.

We find that most image taken of these birds have cluttered, busy environments, and difficult exposures. The bright red cap, and dark wing and back feathers provide a challenge! The key here is to shoot in RAW as always! With a raw file, you can fine tune the white balance, adjust the tint, add fill light to the dark areas, and recover the bright areas easily to create a balance exposure, and help the image look as it was, through our eyes.

Another tip is to memorize the colour of green that you see in the background. This really helps me with the white balance adjustment. Editing a RAW file gives us non-destructive results, as making such changes to a jpg file in any program removes pixels.

I will try to remember to post the tech specs for each shot in the future.

1/60s f/6.3 at 330.0mm iso250 D300 / 200-400 VR. Tripod and gimbal head – natural light with no flash

The breeding habitat of the Acorn woodpecker is forested areas with oaks in the hills of coastal areas and foothills of California and the southwestern United States south to Colombia.

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

If you are interested in seeing more images from any of my workshops, please check out the photo galleries on my website. Later in 2012 we have workshops scheduled in Costa Rica, India, Iceland, Africa, Newfoundland, British Columbia and Tanzania. Check out our tour schedules for more information.

Raymond Barlow

Raymond Barlow

Ray Barlow's passion for capturing birds and wildlife began at the Manila Zoo in 2004. Since then he has established himself as a professional bird and wildlife photographer. Ray is based near to Toronto Canada and hosts photography travel tours and workshops around the world. He goes to places like Yellowstone, Tanzania, Costa Rica, India, and British Columbia. Action photography including animals in chase or birds such as hummingbirds in flight is Ray's specialty. Now being sponsored by Jobu Design gimbal Heads.

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Steven Scott

Great post.  Thanks for sharing.