It isn’t often that I prefer shots of a perched raptor over images of it taking off. But such is the case with this Rough-legged Hawk I photographed a week ago at Farmington WMA.
1/1600, f/8, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
I’ve mentioned before that for my tastes this species just might be the most handsome of all North American buteos and I think this pose shows off many of its “best” features well – including the well-defined gape that is often so easy to see on “roughies”. The hawk is sharp, there’s excellent detail, the perch is a natural one and the light angle works well. The background is homogenous blue sky but I’m fine with that because the twigs of the tree help to break it up.
But I’m always after takeoff shots so after a few minutes of photographing the bird with my teleconverter attached I removed it in anticipation of launch.
1/2500, f/9, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in
But by the time the hawk took off thin clouds had moved in behind the bird and turned the background to a less desirable (for me) milky-blue. And to make matters worse I dang-near clipped the right wing so I can’t get a pleasing composition without adding canvas which I prefer not to do (though sometimes I do it anyway).
You can’t come much closer to clipping a wing than this without actually doing it. I checked and I only have one pixel to spare between the tip of the wing and the top of the frame.
1/2000, f/9, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in
And in the next frame I actually did clip that wing. I always try to anticipate the likely direction of takeoff to give me a better chance at keeping the bird in the frame but in this case I guessed wrong. I predicted it would take off to my left so it could avoid rising up to avoid the branches directly in front of the bird but instead it went to my right and at a steeper angle than I anticipated. As a result I clipped or cut off wings in this and two subsequent images.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all three photos. But if I could keep only one of them it would be the first.
PS – yesterday many readers expressed interest in (and sympathy for) my recent dental woes so here’s a brief update. The gum behind one of my back molars was swollen and inflamed so badly that I couldn’t even close my mouth completely so it was both painful and extremely uncomfortable. The precise cause is undetermined but it may have been an injury suffered while eating an egg roll of all things (crispy pieces cut my gum). There’s also another more ominous possible cause so I’ll return to the dentist next Tuesday (for the third time in a week) for a progress report but for the moment at least much of the swelling is gone and I’m pain-free.
Be careful with those egg rolls!