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Thursday, September 11, 2008


At about 7:45 am this morning, I went to the coffee pot and looked out the window at "pinnacle rock," a big rock next to the house. "Look, a hawk!" I exclaimed peering through the foggy light. Husband goes into birder mode and grabs the binos. I go into photographer mode and grab my Canon Mark II with the 300 mm lens plus 1.4 teleconverter. As I grab the camera I check the ISO setting, setting it as low as I think will still take a good photo. Fortunately, I can rest my elbows on the kitchen counter for added stability, even though my camera has image stabilization.
I just kept clicking away, hoping for a sharp shot and waiting, hoping it would fly so I might have a chance at that take-off shot. It sat and sat, my elbows feeling the weight of the camera, then it leaned forward and click, click, click, my instincts kicking in, I slammed the shutter button (which was in high speed mode) down.
Here are the resulting shots, both full framed and then cropped, showing all the lovely details of this immature Cooper's Hawk.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful shots. The camera never seems to be handy when they visit our yard.

Julie Zickefoose said...

These are gorgeous--what fun to wait for that takeoff--I do it, too.
I'm a little confused by your saying you set the ISO as low as you could. Could you elaborate? Does that mean you opened it up a couple of clicks?
Were you shooting through a window?

Your avid photography student,

Julie Zickefoose

Lillian Stokes said...

Hi Julie,
Yes, I was shooting through the kitchen window and had my elbows resting on the counter for greater stability even though it was an image stabilized lens. This would help lessen camera shake and give a sharper photo. I set the ISO low, meaning it was a lower number. It was set at 250 ISO, f 5.6, 1/160th sec. shutter speed. I usually shoot between 200 and 500 ISO. Higher ISO speeds give you more light and a faster shutter speed, but the photo is usually more grainy at higher ISOs. There was fog and poor light outside, the bird was fairly far away so I would have to crop the photo and I knew these things would produce a grainy photo. So I opted to go for a lower ISO speed, which would give me a less grainy photo.

There are many cases where I would use a higher ISO including low light conditions. See my blog entry here:

Every photo op calls for a judgement call by the photographer on what camera settings to use. It's tricky. Experiment and you will learn what camera settings will produced the result you want. Keep up the good work with your lovely photos.

ChrisJ said...

Glad to see these photos because they confirm my identification of the hawk that visits my back yard looking for the little birds at my feeding station. It is definitely a young Cooper's Hawk

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Nice catch.
It works out that you can share the duties and have both binocs AND camera on a magnificent bird!