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In September, the fields in parks near our home in Central Ohio start taking on a yellowish hue as the remaining black-eyed Susans and sunflowers are joined by a variety of yellow fall plants to form a warm, bright carpet.

These fields are usually filled with American Goldfinch during September. The birds’ color matches the surroundings, making them difficult to find but very interesting to photograph. A yellow Goldfinch (or even the olive-brown fall-colored Goldfinch) with a defocused yellow background from the field makes a nice shot.

Occasionally I’ll find a different type of bird in the field, one with colors that stand out against the warm yellow background.

That’s what happened for this photo.

I was photographing Goldfinches in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park north of Columbus, Ohio, on a September morning when I saw this Song Sparrow land on a nearby plant. It was facing the sun and was close enough to me that I knew the field in the background would drop to a defocused warm yellow.

I like how the Sparrow and the plant stand out against the background.

About the photographer

I’m a photo hobbyist who lives in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. I typically spend several mornings each week in the woods of local parks, photographing birds and other wildlife. I also enjoy shooting sporting events and photographing different cities when I travel around the country.


I began doing photography in the pre-digital, pre-autofocus, pre-Internet 1970s. I had a color darkroom in the basement of our house in our hometown, Ashland, Ky., and on occasion would shoot for the newspaper where I worked first as a sports writer, then as city editor. But I put the camera away in the 1980s after burning out from too many of those "hey can you" photo jobs — “hey can you shoot my son's Little League team," or "hey can you shoot my daughter's wedding." I reached the point where I dreaded picking up the camera.

After taking a vacation from photography for more than 20 years, I was using my daughter’s point-and-shoot digital camera to get some photos of her first college tennis match in fall 2004 (she played four years at the University of Akron) and realized how much I missed photography. After doing the “Nikon or Canon” research, I bought a Canon digital SLR, started adding lenses — that’s my Canon 600 f/4L, the lens I use for wildlife and some sports photography, in the photo above — and have been shooting ever since.