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Old Aug 13, 2005, 12:32 AM   #1
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I'm am driven everyday with the call of these birds to stand for hours and hours and go threw 310 pictures so far! Thank God for Digital Cameras! I have a Digital Rebel and a 100-300mm with a 2X lens extender. I have to manual focus cause the Sigma just can focus fast enough! They all play above my house and fly around at noon. Which is not easy staring into the sun! They might be gone soon and I really want to get some good shots. Anyone have any ideas?

Look here at my best shots out of 310! http://homepage.mac.com/freidaw/PhotoAlbum38.html

Obsessed!
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Old Aug 13, 2005, 8:41 AM   #2
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With manual focus it will not be easy. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get the highest shutter speed you can. Normally this is achieved with TV mode and setting the highest aperture. (which I assume is f8 with the 2xTC? I don't know the max f-stop of the 100-300.
- You might shooting a burst where you also slowly change the focus. Kinda like "focus-bracketing". Most will be out of focus, but one might be in focus. This isn't a normal technique I'd suggest, but it is digital and you can always throw away some shots.
- Watch them for patterns of flight. How they circle around. They're picking up thermals, I'm sure, so they will all follow similar flight patterns. With the ability to perdict where they will be, you can spend a lot of time focusing on the power line tower, and then following one as it flys by. It should slowing get into and then out of focus. Try shooting when it just enters focus (or just try burst mode and hope you get one when it is in focus.

Manual focus for flight birds (even birds that are lazily soaring like those are) is not easy. So keep at it and have fun. You get a few good ones, I'm sure. It just might take awhile.

Eric

ps. Btw, from "IMG_3572 copy" I'd say those are immature Red Tailed Hawks. Of course, being over in california you have a few more raptors that I don't have. But either way, I can understand the desire to photograph them. I love soaring raptors.
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Old Aug 13, 2005, 12:11 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. I'll try that today. I think you are right it could be a Red Tailed Hawk. I had a hard time telling the different cause I'm so new at it. But when I heard the call of the two of them on a site, I recognize the call of the Red-Tailed Hawk. The internet is great isn't it!

Funny, I bought a bird book a while ago and gave up, cause I didn't think there were any interesting in Anaheim CA next to Disneyland! Now I'm hooked!!

Freida
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 12:37 AM   #4
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Glad to hear about your obsession, Freida, it'sa worthwhile endeavor. Some of those hawk shots are not bad and to get as close to the Red Tailed Hawk as you seem to have gotten a few times, is doing good. They are next to impossible to get near to.

A agree fully with what eric says, above, and suggest that you keep doing what you are doing, practicing, as that is the best way to get more accurate with the shots. The more you practice shooting movement the more accustomed to the camera you will become and your actions and reactions will increase in speed, and that will make the essential difference between an almost good shot and a good one IMO. If the sky is clear then you also might expand your focus points in order to be more than single spot focus (I think the Rebel can do that). I also believe that the more you are around those birds the more accustomed they will be to you and the closer they will probably get.

Have fun, I know how frustrating it can be.


PS - I personally shoot 500 or morephotos per day on flight shots (when shooting flying birds, that is). So don't be too discouraged with 310. My keeper number is getting higher with practice, though. Again, it all boils down to the practice element.
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 1:51 AM   #5
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Thanks for you input. I didn't have any time to take pictures today because of a planned trip to the mall! This is the first time I didn't want to go to the mall! The birds were calling to me as I drove off! I did find some really nice pictures here of the Red-Tailed Hawks here:¬*http://www.hangingrocktower.org/bird...tailedhawk.htm I verified that they were indeed Red-Tailed Hawks with the official guy in charge! He said he was even going to use some of my shots. eek! I feel they are not good enough yet! Now I have found an old telescope that I'm going to play with to get closer shots with my camera. Thanks all for your assistance! Freida
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 6:04 AM   #6
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Redtails in my area tend to stay in one area and they love to soar. Especially on a sunny day. My biggest gripe is that I don't have enough zoom to catch the shots I want. IMO you are on the right track. If you persist they'll eventually reward you with the opportunity you need. If you're really lucky you'll catch a pair in their mating free for all. They will sometimes start at a ridiculously high altitude tangling up and freefallingas they tumble over and over and just when it looks like they're going to pancake straight into the ground at a zillion miles an hour, they'll suddenly (in the nick of time) separate and climb again. I've only seen this a couple of times and it's reallya jaw dropping sight. Best regards,

KennethD
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 9:54 PM   #7
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Depending on how far you are willing to drive, it looks like there is a good deal of parks not that far from Anaheim. Tobanga State Park and a host of other parks & recreation areas north and a bit east of there (5, based on what maps.google.com shows.) Another thing you might find useful is a birding mailing list for your area. You'll be shocked how many places there are near you that will be good. Little parks with ponds that get good birds... Town conservation land... For most clubs, you don't need to be a member (or even sign up) 'cause they archive the mailing lists on the web.

Getting closer is the dream of every bird photographer. But it can backfire. My camera was on my big lens on a tripod when out from the cat tails about 4 feet in front of me... popped a Sedge Wren. They are in other places around the US, but they are very rare in Mass. My big lens doesn't focus closer than 18 feet. By the time I switched to a smaller lens that could have gotten the shot it was hidden again. I was very happy to see it (a life bird for me), but never got a single shot. And I still had fun :-).

Eric

ps. I just did a google search with these key words:
birding mailing list california
and found a load of good info. Try it out and see what you can learn.
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 10:57 PM   #8
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Thanks, I'll go look into it cause once the Hawk's are gone it will be pretty boring out back! Although, I'm so sore from holding the camera to get some good shots today that I'm going to¬* have to figure out a different method. Here is another shot I thought was interesting for the content. This little bird stood there for the entire time the Hawk ate his dinner. I wonder if it was the little bird''s relative? You are right,¬*KennethD, they went up in the sky and did a great dance today! I'm beginning to think that the house down 3 doors is feeding them! This is fun!
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