Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Photographing Eagles & Hawks

One of the most exciting shots you can get are pictures of Raptors. Here are a few hints to help you be successful on this type of shoot. If you notice that Hawks or Eagles roosting in a special tree, or branches of a tree, over and over again, then you can be sure that they like this particular roost and will return frequently. Large bird of prey will always return to a roost near their feeding grounds if it is easy to enter and exit the roost with their wing spans, etc. So wait until they are gone and see if you can find a place near the roost that will give you natural cover. Remember, these birds have eye sight like spy satelites, so your natural blind must conseal you from the front as well as over the top. It must be close enough so that the lens you have will reach the bird. If you must create a blind near the roost because there isn't natural cover near by, make sure you choose material from the immediate area so it looks like it belongs there. Use sticks and twigs and leaves that will give you cover in front and on top. Once you have a consealed place constructed, do not use the cover for a few days and watch to see if the birds are comfortable with the new landscape. if you see that they are coming back to the roost area and seem comfortable, you're ready to try and get the shot. Never enter your cover area when the birds are at roost. You must be patient. Enter your cover a few hours before they usually use their roost and wait. If you do this correctly, you will be rewarded with shots like these Eagle Mates shown on this entry.

Some days you get a gift when you least expect it. While I was investigating a potenial landscape, this immature Red Tail Hawk landed on an abandoned power pole not 20 yards away. He looked right at me, and my presence didn't seem to bother the Hawk at all. After staring at each other for a while and without making any quick moves, I quietly put my equipment together and slowly started to set up the shot with my camera. He seemed at times to be curious about what I was doing, and the Hawk would stop preening to stare at me, but with very, very, slow movements, I didn't spook the Hawk. My quiet, slow and deliberate movements paid off, and the Hawk sat on the pole and posed for me for about 20 mintes. I shot two rolls of film, and this is one of about 12 favorite shots I took of the Hawk during our encounter.

Equipment Use on both shots:
Camera - Canon EOS-3
Lens - 400 mm F2.8 w/ 2X extension
Film - Fuji Provia 100
Tripod - Bogen w/platform for lens


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