This Dunnock insisted in getting in the way of my dawn shooting on sunday. So I did the only thing I could, swapped lenses and started shooting a different subject =)
If you check out "Winter Coast, Dawn" in my profile you'll see the where the stream was trickling over the cliffs, producing icicles and that lovely dawn reflection on the wet rock. This little guy was bathing in the shower of water I was shooting under. The pastel backdrop is the dawn sun reflected off the sea.
The shot is taken hand-held at 300mm with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec, at a range of around 10-12 feet. He is only about 5 inches long from beak to tail. The shot was heavily backlit so I had to manually focus and fill in with a camera mounted 580EX set to -1&2/3 EV.
The photo has been slightly cropped (no point wasting pixels on DPC), sharpened and level adjusted. It's a little less sharp than I would like, but the 75-300 is not so hot at 300mm and the shooting conditions were less than ideal =).
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The first thing that I notice about your photo is the bird obviously, but then my eye travels straight to the upper left corner where there is a bright spot then to the upper right corner where there is a dark spot. This could of been solved simply by cropping right below the dark spot on the right. Also this would of placed the bird in the rule of thirds vertically, as right now he is about the same distance from the top of the frame to the bottom of the frame.
Other than a different crop, there's not much that you could of done better here. The colors are gorgeous, the blues and the browns work perfectly together to give that "feeling" of a cold wintry day. The focus is great although, as you said in your description, it could be just a little sharper. I personally like the DoF here, it makes the viewer pay more attention to the eye and head of the bird than to the rest of the photo. It would be interesting to see this same photo with a bit more DoF though, to see if it made a difference or not. The composition works here, but as I said before, a different crop would of helped a little. You have the bird in the right hand side, abiding by the rule of thirds, this works great. The lighting is also good, I like the bright part of the rock that is around the birds head. I think this makes it stand out even more and really emphasizes the subject of your photo.
I really really like this shot, taking photo's of birds can be a hard thing to do, but I think you excecuted this wonderfully. Congrats and good luck!
7 - Nice capture and slightly unusual on the rock. Criticism; not much, difficult from this angle, but perhaps even sharper, 'somehow' on the eye and beak (if not the whole bird, but you may have been going for this 'depth') may have made this even better, not sure. Perhaps a crop variation to eliminate that dark 'something' top right as it slightly detracts, but minor.