It was 8:27 A.M., I was sitting in my car waiting to go into my 8:30 appointment, parked on a side street under a huge oak tree.
There was a familiar sound; I had heard it before-the squalling and crying of an animal. I looked up from my steering wheel and could see the feathers or fur dropping down from the tree. My eyes immediately locked on the hawk and could see he had something in his talons. A second hawk joined him on the tree branch and as nature goes a scuffle ensued and the first bird of prey flew away with a squirrel in his hands. I sat there fumbling for my camera- this was a job for a long lens not an iPhone. I have witnessed this three times in my life. Every time the story is the same, the cry from the prey and the enormous bird flying away with four little legs moving about in capture right over my head.
I am not a bird photographer for a reason, patience and preparedness are not my strong suits. I look for the light and follow my instincts. I am not quick on the draw and never know when I may see something – like a bird in a tree. However, if a particular kind of light draws me to a subject – an investigation begins and I usually get a shot.
Every picture tells a story; very seldom do I tell it- letting the photo stand alone. Now after three instances, two in the same exact place, this image beckons me to tell how it came about. See hawk below.
I was walking along a paved railroad path looking for something to shoot. There were a few old abandoned buildings across a field of tall weeds and to my right an area of wetlands. For some reason most of my walks end up near wetlands or swamps. I heard the sound of a bird call, could not see anything in the trees but knew there was something around. The sun was at 3 o’clock and there was a berry bush spreading polka dots or light all around and the feeling from the dots was interesting. Following the dots not far above- there he sat on the lowest branch, a hawk hiding among the camouflage of speckled light cast from the berries.
With my Canon G15 around my neck I took aim and with the longest lens possible I got in a few clicks before he flew away. Now, I am not the typical photographer who owns every lens for every situation. Lightweight equipment is preferable and the essential tool this camera has is optical stabilization- absolutely necessary because it helps prevent blurry pictures especially in low light using the high optical zoom.
This image was recently sold to a man for reference purposes, so that his tattoo artist could put the Red Tailed hawk on his back. It’s funny, the reasons why people buy my photographs.
Stay tuned by goal is to track down Bob and see if his hawk tattoo is ready for a photo shoot.