Backyard Birding Report – Aug. 9th, 2009

I was sleeping in on a Sunday. Cynthia was kind enough to close the bedroom door while she worked around the house and I was snoozing quite soundly when the bedroom door was flung open and Cynthia ran in, urgently telling me to get out of bed and saying “come quickly for birdage!”

There’s a tone Cynthia gets when it’s important. I respond on a very subconscious level to this tone. I knew something was up and it was important so I jumped out of bed and followed Cynthia to breakfast room.

She pointed to the window saying “It’s an Eagle or something!!”

I looked and there was no Eagle. But there was Hawk sitting on the fence that divides the back patio from the driveway. What a sight!

The blinds were down with the slats open so you could see out the window but it was not ideal for a photograph. I knew that if we were to raise the blinds the hawk would probably just fly away. If I had any hope of getting a photo of this guy I would need to do it through the blinds without moving them at all.

Fortunately for me, my camera was on the table and already mounted with my Sony SAL-70-300G lens. This lens is pretty remarkable and I was counting on it to be able to spot focus on the bird THROUGH the blinds. It was the only chance I would have.

I grabbed the camera, switched it on and quickly made the necessary adjustments and fired off two quick shots before the hawk flew off.

This is either a juvenile Red Shouldered Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. I am betting it’s a Cooper’s.

The blinds make the shot a little on the soft side but all in all, it came out pretty well I think. Especially considering I went from sleeping soundly to shooting this picture in probably less than 60 or so seconds.

The last time I got a shot of a Hawk was back in 2007 at West 11th St. Park in The Heights and I have been itching to get something like this ever since I noticed him flying around the neighborhood.

Fleetwood Mac @ The Toyota Center

After the Geek Gathering I wandered over to the Continental Club where I ran into Chris Gray, the music dude for The Houston Press. He asked if I was free on Saturday as he needed someone to shoot the Fleetwood Mac concert @ The Toyota Center. I told him I was available and he asked if I had a “long lens” because the photographers were going to have to shoot from the soundboard which is a pretty good distance from the stage.

My longest concert lens is my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 which works out to be about 300mm on my crop sensor Sony Alpha 700. I told him I would give it a try.

When I arrived @ The Toyota Center there were two other photographers, one with a Canon and a 400mm f/2.8 and another with a Nikon connected to a 300mm f/2.8 and each was armed with a monopod, something I have not yet invested in.

We were escorted to the soundboard before the show started and I was a little disheartened at the distance from the stage which was about 3/4 of the way to the back of the floor seats.

This shot was taken @ 70mm and gives you an idea of the distance

Yea, it was back a ways. I shot the show fully extended at 200mm without the benefit of a monopod. Thank you built in image stabilization from Sony!

Not bad, but I would have liked to have been closer, or had a lens with more reach and a monopod. Just not sure

Wrath Of God

Click image to view larger size. Or even better, see a larger version on a black background.

This is my second pass at this image. I was able to clean up the chromatic aberration that was distracting in the original image as well as the HDR version. I have also (I believe) brought out more of the "menace" in the clouds. I was also FAR less aggressive in correcting the angle than I was in the first version allowing the building to have the appearance of bowing or bending in the wind that comes from shooting at a slightly up-angle with a an ultra wide angle lens like the 11-18mm