Jann spied an “owl” high up in a bare tree far across the parking lot of the “K-mart Plaza” in West Lebanon yesterday. As we drove over to investigate it turned into a hawk. I got a few poor shots out my window (did not have my long lens in the car) before the hawk flew across the temporary entrance ramp for I-89 north.
As I got out of the car to try to get a shot of it on the ground, it flew back with something in its claws and landed on a lower branch of the tree. I moved around the tree and shot from several angles—fighting branches the whole time. The best angle turned out to be almost under it. I could approach the red-tailed hawk quite closely. It was much more concerned with the mouse it was eating than me. I was completely ignored. Interestingly, in the fourth photo of this series, it appears I caught a feather floating to the ground.
There are several photographic lessons here. The simplest is you can never get a photo unless you have a camera. Always carry a camera. Second, you don’t necessarily need huge, powerful lenses, especially with larger species. Getting close physically is more important than getting close optically.
Finally, there is a function on many cameras that few people understand or use, but it is often invaluable in getting a decent shot. It is called Exposure Compensation. Camera exposure meters sometime need help in making the best exposure—particularly with a small bright subject against a dark background in contrast light or, as was the case here, a small dark subject against a bright sky. The photos that follow were shot at EC=+1 and +1.3 which brightened both the hawk and the sky.