I was driving home today, and saw a red tailed hawk sitting on top of a hydro poll near a rural highway. I continued on home, got my camera and put on the new Sigma 70-300 lens (see a previous blog entry about my initial review of this lens) and headed back out.
I have not used this lens enough, and in the rush to get back to where chummy was hopefully still sitting, I made some errors that lost me some decent shots. Before heading out, I custom set my white balance using a white/black/18% neutral grey card rig by Digital Grey Kard, and went back to find the hawk still sitting on the poll. Normally, if you drive past a hawk on the side of the road, they'll sit, but if you slow down to take a look, they fly off. I slowed, dropped the passenger window and with 4-ways on, stopped and began to shoot.
My auto focus was off (to shoot the grey card earlier to set the white balance), and this cost me a few seconds. By the time I zoomed back to see the hawk in the viewfinder, then zoomed and focused, he was on the move, quite predictably.
A classic rookie mistake, not being properly set up to tackle wildlife that you know is going to bolt upon seeing you. Generally, sitting in a blind near an area known to have a hawk population is the best way to photograph these birds, but I couldn't say no to the chance of a decent capture on the way home.
Even with my drive set to high speed (8 frames per second) and auto focus set to AI for moving targets, this shot is still not in focus to my taste. I had to set to a wide aperture owing to evening low light, which makes for a shallower depth of field and a tougher overall sharp focus field.
Still, I need to put this lens to a proper test; this was not a test but a quick attempt to add a decent wildlife exposure to my collection. However, this isn't a decent shot! It's not in focus as it should be, but the color overall is not bad. I took 12 shots overall, all were out of focus, this was the best of the lot.
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!