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Photography Question 
Carol Shagovac
 

Taking Pictures of Small Birds and Hawks


I can't get pictures of red tail hawks. They only let you so close and they fly away. I've tried binoculars camcorders and I just bought a 200mm slr SLR - this helps get closer but you can't see their eyes. What can I do to help?


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2/26/2004 10:41:25 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
 
 
  Red Tail Hawk
Red Tail Hawk
Nikkor 180 mm ED (Bear Branch Nature Center)
© Bob Cammarata
Nikon FM2 Manual E...
 
 
Carol,
Believe me when I say that,... "You're not alone"!

Raptors, including hawks, are notoriously camera shy in the wild. The chances of getting eye detail are slim, at best, with a 200 mm outfit.

Your best bet, is to shoot captive birds for your close-ups. The enclosed photo of a red-tail was taken at a local nature center,(Bear Branch in Carroll County, Maryland) with a 180 mm lens.

You should try doing a little research in your area to see if any place exists where photographers can access captive birds of prey in natural settings. Often, they will sponsor "wildlife shoots" for a small fee.

Smaller,(song birds) can be easier to photograph by attracting them with a feeder and water source. This can be often accomplished in your back yard, if it is adjacent to a wooded area where a variety of species frequent. Be sure to add natural props to the shooting area give your photos a "wild" appearance.


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2/26/2004 12:49:33 PM

 
David    For some examples of pics of wild gyrfalcons and some links to the equipment and techniques involved, have a look at:
http://pie.midco.net/dougback/gyrfalcons.htm

Dave Graham
Estelline, SD


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3/3/2004 7:42:45 AM

 
Steve Haley   Song birds are creatures of habit and repetition. Once they find a place that provides them with food, water and cover they will generally stay in that area until threatened or they migrate out of the area. With careful observance you can even time their approach to a particular feeder they like.

If you prune your trees, don't throw away the pruned branches but use them as artificial perches around your feeders. Then build a homemade blind big enough for you to sit in with your camera and tripod, such as a large cardboard box with a lens hole cut in it, or build a frame with drab fabric or tarp to use as a blind. It does not need to be elaborate. Leave it near the feeder and within a day or two the birds will become used to the new object and no longer see it as a potential threat. When you see the birds have returned to the feeder, you know they have 'accepted it' and you can then enter the blind when you wait for the birds. Mount your camera and tripod in the blind and get comfortable, silent and be patient. With time, you can possibly even move the blind within a few feet of the feeder-plenty close enough for a 200mm lens. "If you feed them, they will come". Good luck!


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3/3/2004 7:46:35 AM

 
Donna J. Eaton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/15/2001
  Carol, I don't know where you are located but I work for a raptor rehab/education center located in North Carolina. We are having a "Photo Wild" fund raising event the last weekend in March and first weekend in April. We put our birds outside in natural looking props. It's a great day with lots of great photographers. If you are interested, I would be glad to give you the details.


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3/3/2004 2:05:05 PM

 
Kathy    If you want to shoot raptors in the wild, the best way I have found is to spot them roosting. While still in your vehicle, preset your camera as much as possible. Turn off the vehicle and remove the key. (The dings and dongs of the car alarms drive off wildlife.) When you SLOWLY exit the car, keep adjusting your camera settings and when the raptors flies off as expected, you might get a great shot of it in flight. A hawk in a tree isn't really interesting--wing spread and action is.


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3/3/2004 6:03:18 PM

 
Joey Seabolt   Carol,
You might try to contact the Falconry Association in your state. I am a falconer and I enjoy having someone see my Hawks up close. You might offer to give a nice photo for allowing you to photograph their birds.
Joey Seabolt
GA.


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3/3/2004 9:22:30 PM

 
doug Nelson   Go onto google and look up Douglas Herr or wildlightphoto.com. Look at what he uses. He's a bird specialist.


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3/4/2004 9:58:29 AM

 
Debra Louden   I live in an area with lots of hawks and enjoy taking pictures of them. I was also frustrated for awhile because every time I got out of the car to take a picture, they flew away before I could get a picture. Now I watch for them from a distance and am ready before I get to them. Sometimes you can get a good picture if you stay in the car with the window down and slowly put the camera to your eye. They get nervous with any fast movement or any noise. Some of my best pictures have come from the side of busy roads where the hawks are used to the traffic noise. Kansas and Iowa are great places to see hawks.


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3/11/2004 6:46:38 AM

 
Moon    Dear Carol, you can get a "tripod" with out legs that clamps on to your car's window.
If you can, when you get one of these neat gadgets turn the car around and sit in the pasengers side, roll down the window and set up the tripod clamp and camera on the window. Do everything very slowly so you don't spook the hawk(s).
This will keep you hidden in the car. You are in the passengers side so the stearing wheel isn't in your way.
Here is a link to what these clamps look like. The first one is 35 dollars.
http://www.acecameras.co.uk/asp/web/ph/cat/prodtype/1185/shopid/18/prodtype.asp
It's not likely that you'll find one at wal-mart, so don't bother with them.

If you have the money, and a camera that takes other lenses, invest in a good zoom lens if you are not using one now. If you are and you still can't get the details you want, you will have to go large and get a telephoto lens.
Yes, they are pricey! That's why I don't have one but sure would love to!
But if you can swing it, go for it!
I finaly found a picture of a telephoto lens.
http://www.lonestardigital.com/Sigma_50-500.htm
Shop around for what you want. Bring your camera to a good shop and affix a telephoto lens to your camera and look out the window with it. Check out the details you can see far away, first look with your bare eyes in the far distance, about how far you usualy find the hawks, then look through the lens. Can you see the details that you want to get? If so great! Whip out the credit card, pay for the lens, then burn the card. LOL

P.S. Do not go for the cheaper suction cup window clamps! If it ever lets go, you can say bye bye to your camera. Spend the money for a good one with a screw clamp!
Good luck with the hawks! :-)


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3/25/2004 4:13:21 AM

 
Moon    Carol, I forgot to mention, if you can't click on the links I gave you, copy and paste them into the address window of your browser.
The links did not work as I intended them to. :-(
Sorry about that.
Moon Bear


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3/25/2004 4:20:02 AM

 
Robert Hambley
roberthambleyphoto.com
  Greetings,

I agree with staying in the car. I almost always stay in the car. The only time I have been able to successfully exit the car and not have the bird fly off is when I have stopped with a tree or other obsticle between me and the bird. Then slowly peering through or around get a good shot.

Also, a common phrase with photographing birds is 'life begins at 500', implying that anything less that 500mm is less than ideal for wild bird photography.

I don't have a car mount tripod yet, but will soon.

If you are looking for close ups, try your local Audubon Society, they may have educational raptors on display from time to time where you will be able to photograph beautiful closeups.


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4/6/2004 1:23:01 PM

 
Robert Hambley
roberthambleyphoto.com
 
 
 
Here are two, the hawk in the wild, the eagle from the Audubon Society in Milwaukee


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4/6/2004 1:25:13 PM

 
Robert Hambley
roberthambleyphoto.com
 
PhotoID# 341386: Close Up of Red Tail Hawk

PhotoID# 344385: Sir Fredrick


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4/6/2004 1:29:12 PM

 
Carol Shagovac   THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PICTURES. I LOVE THE RED TAILS AND THE EAGLES. IVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGHT TO SEE THE EAGLES AND REDTAILS BUT PICTURES ARE VERY HARD I KEEP TRYING. I WILL BE GETTING A CAR MOUNT THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I ALSO GOT A SPIRATONE 400MM LENSE AND I HAVN'T GOT TO USE IT MUCH YET. I HAVE TO GET THE CAR MOUNT SO I CAN USE IT BETTER. I ALSO JUST ORDERED A 2X CONVERTER TO USE WITH THE 400MM LENSE I HOPE ITS OK. I CAN USE THE TRIPOD AT THE PARK IF THEIR FAR ENOUGH AWAY BUT I HAVN'T GOT ANY GREAT PICTURES YET. THERE GETTING BETTER THOUGH. I GOT SOME GOOD PICTURES OF THE TURKEY VULTURES WITH IT.THEY DIDN'T FLY AWAY


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4/6/2004 1:37:16 PM

 
Carol Shagovac   THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PICTURES. I LOVE THE RED TAILS AND THE EAGLES. IVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGHT TO SEE THE EAGLES AND REDTAILS BUT PICTURES ARE VERY HARD I KEEP TRYING. I WILL BE GETTING A CAR MOUNT THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I ALSO GOT A SPIRATONE 400MM LENSE AND I HAVN'T GOT TO USE IT MUCH YET. I HAVE TO GET THE CAR MOUNT SO I CAN USE IT BETTER. I ALSO JUST ORDERED A 2X CONVERTER TO USE WITH THE 400MM LENSE I HOPE ITS OK. I CAN USE THE TRIPOD AT THE PARK IF THEIR FAR ENOUGH AWAY BUT I HAVN'T GOT ANY GREAT PICTURES YET. THERE GETTING BETTER THOUGH. I GOT SOME GOOD PICTURES OF THE TURKEY VULTURES WITH IT.THEY DIDN'T FLY AWAY ALSO IN MAY I AM GOING TO A REHABILITATION CENTER WHICH I CANT WAIT.I THINK ILL GET GREAT PICTURES THERE.


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4/6/2004 1:39:03 PM

 
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