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Photographing Birds is Still Very Hard

Hawkish Attitude

Taken yesterday, these are the culls from day two of the Great Hawk Photo Safari. Unlike Monday, Tuesday was a bit overcast and a bit darker because of it. That, along with the desire to close the 50-200mm + EC-14 down about a half stop to f/5.6 forced me to shoot at ISO 200 (base on the E-1 is ISO 100).

The top photo was taken wide open at f/4.9 with me as close as I could get to fill as much of the frame as possible. But I still had to crop more than I would have liked. Since I was shooting against the sky, I decided to process the raw file in black and white with Silver Efex Pro 2, and to process the hawk and just let the sky to go white and loose all the detail. The effect I was after was a pen-and-ink like drawing on Bristol board.

The problem with this photo is that the extreme manipulation of contrast inadvertently enhances the E-3 sensor's tendency towards banding in areas that have the same luminance and toning, such as the parking lot light the hawk was at rest on in the lower part of the photo. If I had processed this normally then the photo the banding would not be noticeable, but then the photo would not have been nearly as dramatic. When I have more time I need to pull this into Photoshop and work a bit more in that area to reduce or eliminate the banding effects with Photoshop's tools.

The Hawk Pair

This image was taken before the image at the top, and shows both of the hawks together. I like this one because the poses of both hawks shows their back on the left (and the red coloring on the wing shoulder) as well as the front. The wind was breezy, so the left hawk's lower feathers were being fluffed out a bit.

You Lookin' at ME?

I came up on this mottled duck before I found the hawks. It spotted me before I spotted it, and kept looking at me over it's shoulder with that expression as if to ask "what are you up to with that camera?" I was able to grab a few photos before he decided to swim off.

I'm still in the mode where I'll photograph wild birds where-ever I can, but now I'm wanting to try the even harder photography of birds in flight. I think it's slowly sinking what I need to do, not the least of which is to keep the camera up and if you have to, "spray and pray." I'm not to the point yet where I can always know the "decisive moment" to trip the shutter. I guess I've gotta cheat a little.


If you want to see what has me excited/annoyed/inspired, then check out this Flickr stream:


  1. That first one is really good, and I don't know if I would change anything in it. Even if the banding is really obvious when looking at a bigger version, maybe one day people will say: "Oh look, it's a photo, not a drawing!"

    And yes, you're right about Ned...


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