Photography: Capturing the flight of a hawk


I had a great chance to take the new Canon T3i outside this weekend, as it was a pretty nice day out. My daughter and I stopped at a local area that’s known for having lots of wildlife, and it didn’t disappoint.

Now, don’t forget, this is a brand new camera, and I’m no expert. I’m sure many of the things I do are from the amateur side, but they are still fun. I’m sure there are others out there in the same situation, learning their way.

I had a number of other types of shots that I took while we were out. But I just want to write about one thing that happened, and it’s something that, for me, proved the camera’s worth.

We walked up quietly to a hawk that had landed on a telephone post. I had snapped shots of a different one from further away, and it had flown off. In the meantime, we walked a bit closer to the post. We were a good hundred feet away, looking down into the swampy muck (which fascinated the daughter), when a different hawk landed on the post.


Here’s a closer crop of the photo, which I think has some great detail in it.

hawk closeup

I snapped a few shots of it, toying around with both the aperture and the ISO. I left it on f 14 and ISO 400, and took a couple of shots. I then remembered that I’d wanted to see how it would do in continuous mode, shot after quick shot. I switched it over to continuous, and refocused on the hawk.

Then it took off.

I was in just the right position (opinion), and I just held it down and kept snapping until it was out of sight. The camera snapped a bunch in a row, and only seemed to have trouble twice. Once, when the hawk entered a similarly colored background. Near the end, on maybe the 12th shot with that same similar background, it paused slightly as well. Other than that, it seemed very fast.

How did it do? Well, here are the photos below. I saved some of the sequence into a larger image first, so that you could see how it went. On all of the image, click on them for a much larger image.

Mulitple shots with the Canon T3i

 Here are a few closer shots of the takeoff, and definitely click on them for larger versions. I think the details are really nice, especially since I was just following it in the air, hoping for the best.



It’s interesting, after the one above the blue faded back some. I’m curious as to why that is, someone feel free to fill me in on that. Here’s the other two that I picked, which still have nice detail.



 I cropped them even closer in Photoshop, to see how the details came out. I thought it worked out beautifully, though I’m sure there are things I could do with the camera that would make the images even better. Maybe there are better aperture, ISO, and even shutter settings that I should be using.

I’m happy to hear your suggestions and opinions. Here are the closer crops, definitely click on them.





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