This was a happy series of coincidences that combined to create a pleasing image. The cardinal happened to land in a spot I was focused on. He happened to be in partial shade and partial sun, and the sunlight happened to light his head, and created a catchlight in his eye.
While this was a series of good things that could not have been predicted, it is not unusual that unexpected things combine to give us unique opportunities for good images. In order to be ready for these opportunities, it is vital that you be ready to shoot quickly and effectively.
Have your camera set with an aperture of at least f/8, and a shutter speed of at least 1/500 sec. That will assure you of adequate depth of field, and a fast enough shutter to freeze at least most of the bird's motion.
Know how to change settings quickly, and which direction to zoom your lens to get in tighter. Have your camera set to AI Servo (Canon) or Continuous (Nikon), and rapid burst. Then shoot about 3 to 5 images in a row. Stop, and then shoot another round of 3 to 5 images.
Be prepared to see many unsuccessful images, but you will get a few that will work well. It is normal to have to delete many images when shooting birds and wildlife, so do not feel that that is unusual. A tip about deleting images - do not Trash or Delete images while shooting. Leave them on the memory card, download them when you get home, and then delete the unsuccessful images from your computer.
Shutter Speed 1/1000 sec. Aperture f/8. ISO 200. Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4 with Canon 2x Extender for an effective focal length of 800mm. Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff and Wimberley Sidekick.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet." --Pierre Trudeau