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Old May 14, 2011, 3:07 AM   #1
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Default RTNC: Birds of Prey Portraits K-5 ISO 8000

Hi All,

River Trail Nature Center, one of my local birding areas had an indoor presentation with their captive raptors as the stars. These birds are all rescues and had been judged not capable of making it on their own in the wild, so are well cared for and help in educational presentations at the center.

This was a good opportunity to photograph these guys without having to shoot through bars and without bars or wires in the background. I brought my DA* 50-135, Sigma 180 Macro, and FA* 300/4.5, and ended up using the Sigma 180 most of the time as they had a handler walking around the room with the live birds, and the best opportunities were closer than the other two lenses could focus. I could have used a flash as it was allowed, but I chose to just shoot available light and ISO 8000. The light was dim enough to make AF difficult with the two slower lenses, and they had to be manually prefocused to get them so they could lock without overshooting.

This is a screech owl. It's fully grown and only about 5-6 " (12-15cm) tall. This little lady has a damaged eye, and I prefer to shoot her good side.

Sigma EX 180 f3.5 Macro, f5, 1/250, ISO 8000.


Sigma 180, f5, 1/400, ISO 8000



This is their American Kestral, the smallest of the falcons at @ 10" (27cm). She is physically whole, but was raised from a baby by humans, and well fed with meat, but undernourished in the calcium and minerals that a wild bird would normally get from the bones etc they would get by eating prey. She almost died from a diet of steak. . . she was never taught to hunt, and had imprinted on humans, so would look to people for food, and this wouldn't work for her in the wild.

Sigma 180, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 8000


Sigma 180. f6.3, 1/60, Iso 8000


This is their Barred Owl. I've rarely seen it during my frequent visits. He has a crippled wing that had been broken and had already set before he was rescued. This guy was very cooperative, and posed at all angles. I haven't seen owls in the wild, and know little about them, so I found it interesting that their soft-looking feathers are actually really soft, and this is a hunting advantage as this makes their flight almost silent.

DA* 50-135 f2.8 @ 108mm, f6.3, 1/80, ISO 8000


Sigma 180, f 4, 1/320, ISO 8000


I'm not sure if this shot works -- it's focused a bit in front of where I had wanted.
Sigma 180, f4, 1/160, ISO 8000


Their Red-Tailed Hawk has been there for over 9 years. He lost an eye, but is otherwise healthy. I was surprised that as large as these guys are (@ 22" or 56cm), they commonly weigh only about 2-4 lbs.

Sigma 180, f5, 1/400, ISO 8000


This was a very relaxed shoot as I just sat there and watched the presentation and the handler brought the birds to me. The K-5 handled this easily, and I would imagine that most events would be pretty much the same or easier as there would probably be better light for focusing.

I was thinking of using the DA 18-250 and an external flash, and probably could have gotten similar results stopping down, with lower ISO, and less processing. The lens would have handled the close working distances, and would have given me more flexibility in framing, but with birds, I'd rather have the freedom to shoot faster to get more variety in poses without having to wait for the flash to recharge. It's really nice to have the choice. . .

All in all, a fun experience. Got some good photos, learned something about these birds, and learned a bit more about the capabilities of the K-5. . . now if the weather would normalize a bit around here. . .

Scott
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Old May 14, 2011, 9:21 AM   #2
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I like the shots. They really look like "portraits" with real expressions.
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Old May 14, 2011, 3:00 PM   #3
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Some lovely shots - I really love seeing BoP !

I remember quite a few years ago, handling a Barn Owl who flew onto my gloved hand. She weighed like ...... nothing ! I couldn't feel any weight at all.
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Old May 14, 2011, 5:09 PM   #4
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Great pictures. Really enjoyed them. A nice nature show.
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Old May 15, 2011, 3:10 AM   #5
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Scott

Love your close up. It is probably ok to use flash on your subject via a bounce card


Daniel, Toronto
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Old May 15, 2011, 4:08 AM   #6
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Very nice shots. For ISO8000, that is pretty amazing.
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Old May 15, 2011, 8:35 AM   #7
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Amazing about the hawk weighing so little, I always assumed they were hefty birds. I knew about the near silent flight of the owl family - once when I was walking in the forest year Jackson Wyoming, I was startled by catching the movement of something large moving fairly fast at pretty much eye level fairly close to me. It was a Great Grey Owl and I hadn't heard it flying at all. Its interesting that their soft feathers are what causes that. Love the kestrel picture, though all of them are wonderful shots.
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Old May 15, 2011, 2:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pboerger View Post
I like the shots. They really look like "portraits" with real expressions.
Hi PB,

When I can, I like to try for "expression" shots with birds and animals. While observing them, I get impressions of the "attitude" that I think they exhibit, and try to capture that in at least some of the shots. I'm most gratified when people see the same thing I did when they view the photos, so Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
Some lovely shots - I really love seeing BoP !

I remember quite a few years ago, handling a Barn Owl who flew onto my gloved hand. She weighed like ...... nothing ! I couldn't feel any weight at all.
Hi Kevin,

Thanks!

I've always had the impression that with some of the very long wingspans that allow them to soar and glide so efficiently, and they need to fly off with prey, that they would be pretty muscular, and that would imply dense, but it's really not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lesmore49 View Post
Great pictures. Really enjoyed them. A nice nature show.
Hi Les,

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by danielchtong View Post
Scott

Love your close up. It is probably ok to use flash on your subject via a bounce card
Hi Daniel,

I could have used flash, and probably could have used high ISO settings to minimize recharge times, but with the K-5, I know that I can shoot up to about ISO 10K without losing too much detail that I like in a bird shot, It's a tradeoff, faster shot to shot speeds against potential for better IQ. With flash, I'd have used a bounce card with a diffuser to soften the light, and I'm sure that I'd have gotten better IQ with less PP, but shooting available light was probably more fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by calvinlo View Post
Very nice shots. For ISO8000, that is pretty amazing.
Hi CL,

Thanks!

The new Sony Exmoor sensors turn formerly very difficult shooting conditions into almost casual shoots for me now. Also some credit goes to Topaz DeNoise and InFocus as I can usually get away with just using these plugins for the majority of my PP workflow. It took a while for me to find the settings I liked and get a handle on using the software, but with these pretty settled, it's amazingly easy to shoot just about anything with pretty high standards for IQ. With the K-5 I have few reservations with shooting up to 10,000 max where I'd rarely push my K-7 or K-20 past 1,000. Over 3 stops is indeed amazing. . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Amazing about the hawk weighing so little, I always assumed they were hefty birds. I knew about the near silent flight of the owl family - once when I was walking in the forest year Jackson Wyoming, I was startled by catching the movement of something large moving fairly fast at pretty much eye level fairly close to me. It was a Great Grey Owl and I hadn't heard it flying at all. Its interesting that their soft feathers are what causes that. Love the kestrel picture, though all of them are wonderful shots.
Hi Harriet,

Thanks!

I actually learned quite a bit about their habitats and methods to find where they may hang out, so hopefully, I'll get some opportunities to shoot guys like this in the wild.

Thanks everyone for their comments and taking the time to look.

Scott
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Old May 15, 2011, 3:23 PM   #9
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Wonderful series - great display of some fine birds, of some excellent equipment, and especially of a skilled photographer!

PS - If you ever come visit East Tennessee, I might even give you a private showing of our captive raptors.
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Old May 15, 2011, 9:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Amazing about the hawk weighing so little, I always assumed they were hefty birds. I knew about the near silent flight of the owl family - once when I was walking in the forest year Jackson Wyoming, I was startled by catching the movement of something large moving fairly fast at pretty much eye level fairly close to me. It was a Great Grey Owl and I hadn't heard it flying at all. Its interesting that their soft feathers are what causes that. Love the kestrel picture, though all of them are wonderful shots.
Great Grey Owl...one of the birds I want to photograph in my lifetime list.

They are not uncommon up here , in fact are the provincial bird of Manitoba.

But every winter...with my 55-300mm, I go to where they live and danged if I've ever seen one, much less photograph one.

I envy your experience, Mtngal.

Les
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