Welcome to the blog for Thomas Parry Photography. My purpose is to inform the public about photographic projects I have recently completed as well as those in progress and planned for the future. I will periodically post articles about different aspects of photographing nature, people and places. As I work with new hardware and software tools, I will pass along lessons learned that may aid other photographers. I will periodically write reviews about photographic equipment with which I have experience and books I read that may be helpful to others. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and return frequently. I invite your thoughts, good ideas, opinions and feedback.
| 08 December, 2013 13:56
On a weekend in late 2010, while photographing the rugged California coastline in San Mateo County near Pigeon Point Lighthouse, I ran into a beautiful red tail hawk sitting quietly on a fence near the ocean front. I paused and observed the bird for awhile from a reasonable distance. The position of the bird and angle of the light striking him were unforgettable. Problem was I was shooting seascapes with my wide-angle lens and did not have my telephoto lens close at hand to capture the shot I really wanted. The wide angle was not sufficient to isolate the bird and capture the beautiful details of the plumage and the eyes.
Because I sensed the bird seemed content to remain in the position he was in for a time, I decided to retreat back to my car parked somewhat nearby and get my 100-400 mm telephoto lens. Fortunately, in the time I had taken to get back to my car, switch out my wide-angle lens with the telephoto and get back to where I first encountered the bird, he was still there. Well aware of my presence, the hawk kept his eyes focused closely on me as I stealthily approached him in hopes of getting as close a shot as I could. I then framed and focused carefully and started peeling off frames as the bird became more nervous with my approach. At one point the hawk, feeling a bit threatened, ruffled his feathers and majestically took flight.
After completing the day’s shoot and reviewing the many photos I had captured, there were two images of this hawk that really stood out. One shows a beautiful profile of the bird’s head with a raised wing in the background (as appears on the homepage of my website) and the other shows a tack-sharp head-on view of the bird’s head while he was ruffling his plumage prior to takeoff. It was this second shot that was selected for a finalist award by Photographer’s Forum Magazine in 2011 and subsequently published in the Photographer’s Forum Best of Photography 2011 volume published in December 2011.
I have said many times that getting good photographs of wildlife, especially birds, is about being in the right place at the right time. I was in the right place at the right time but with the wrong lens. I gambled I could get back to my car, get the right lens and still get back and get the captures I wanted. This time I won!
Red Tail Hawk Profile Shot
Red Tail Hawk Ruffles Plumage in Preparation for Flight.
Red-tail hawks range in size from 18 to 25 inches in length and may have a wingspan of up to four feet. They weigh approximately two to four pounds. Their coloring is dark brown to gray brown on the back side of their bodies and on the top of their wings. They typically have light brown or cream undersides and a cinnamon colored neck and chest. Red-tail hawks have a dark band across their bellies and a broad, round, rusty red tail giving rise to its name. The female is larger in size than the male.
North America is the natural habitat for these birds. They range from the far north throughout Canada and the United States to as far south as Mexico and Central America.
You may view the published image at the Photographer's Forum website at http://pfmagazine.com/wp-content/plugins/p-gallery/index.php?level=picture&id=8618
Technical specifications for the images: Canon EOS 40D equipped with Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM telephoto zoom lens with focal length set to 400 mm at f/5.6 and 1/200 sec.