Wildlife photography is hard. Except when it isn’t. This is one of those times. 

I was riding my bicycle to work down the busy Mason trail when I noticed a group of people standing around on the edge of the trail. My first thought is that it was just friends being social, but then I remembered my experience with the fox and slowed down to investigate. 

There is a fence that runs alongside the Mason trail, separating it from the railroad tracks. Sitting on one of the fence posts was a hawk. It was screeching at us and then took wing. It fluttered a few times and then stopped. It was either wounded or just learning to fly. At the top of a nearby tree, another hawk was screaming. This leads me to believe (hope?) that it was a juvenile spreading its wings for the first time. (If there are any birders reading this who think otherwise, please let me know).

The hawk started fly/hopping from post to post. To take this shot, I walked back down the trail. This meant the hawk was approaching me, which it presumably would stop doing if it wasn’t comfortable with my presence. I took out my hefty 55 mm birding lens (non-photographers, that’s a joke), fired up the motor drive, and went to town. I got a number of good shots and this became my favorite image of the week.

Red-tail Hawk

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 55 mm, f/10 at 1/400, ISO 200.

Here’s another shot from the sequence that I liked a lot.

Digital Darkroom. The biggest challenge with this image was the bright sun overhead. The circumstances made it hard to change my angle, but I did the best I could in-camera before turning to the darkroom. I increased exposure by +0.3 and increased the shadows by +36. This wasn’t enough so I added a mask for the bird to further increase exposure (+0.4) and shadows (+64). This started to look unnaturally bright, so I added another mask to the fence, increasing exposure by +0.96 and shadows by +15.

I added some sharpening because… (sigh) wildlife photography is hard. In the excitement I didn’t switch my camera’s autofocus to “continuous”. Many of my shots of the moving bird were slightly out of focus. I added additional sharpening to the bird itself. It’s sharp enough for the web but I won’t be making large prints of this image, unfortunately.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.


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