Nature Photography Photo Critique
Red Shouldered Hawk
by Tom Gomes
Category: Nature Photography
Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Prime: Fixed focal l
Exposure time: 1/1600 ,
Description: I always wanted a great photo of a raptor and found this great opportunity
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
No doubt about what your subject is here. I don't see red-shouldered hawks in my neck of the woods. Initially, I thought it was a rufous morph red-tail, then saw the white crescent on the primaries and the white on the tail. The hawk is the only subject and is dominant in the frame. I'm a little biased toward raptors (if you've read my other reviews), so I think your subject matter here is great.
Your placement of the subject is good and I like the upward angle creating an active diagonal in the frame. There is room around the subject to enter from and move into. The gesture of the hawk calling calling gives more life to it. You've caught the wings in a good position to show the back and head clearly. This angle makes identification of the bird slightly more challenging because more of the obvious characteristics are hidden from view (at least to those unfamiliar with seeing this species in flight), but the action is captured nicely.
Looks like the focus is good. In my review size of the image, the hawk seems to be slightly soft, particularly the head (which could be addressed with sharpening techniques). The 7D has really good AI focus accuracy and you can, under the custom functions, adjust the AF sensitivity to help focus tracking on swiftly moving subjects. I'm seeing some pixel artifacts around the head and tail also.
Your technique to capture this hawk in flight is good, your lens choice is correct. Exposure is accurate and the shutter speed selected is adequate to freeze the wings in motion.
Color/white balance is accurate and lighting is adequate to provide details in the feathers. You're at a good angle for a catchlight in the eye and you can see the characteristic white crescent in the primaries and a bit of the rufous coloring on the shoulder (this one has darker-coloring than I've typically seen)
Depth of field is good for the parts that need to be in focus.
I like the action of the hawk, in flight screaming, the angle, and placement of the hawk in the frame. The action tells a story - was it screaming at you? Red-shouldered hawks are the more vocal of the Buteos, they squawk at most anything. A very nice shot.
How to improve your photo
Photographing hawks in flight is tough, and to get one perfectly in focus is tougher. Practice is the advice I give. Some camera bodies are more accurate at AI/tracking focus and some lenses are able to focus faster in these kinds of action situations. I don't know what lens you used, I can't see the entire listing, but if you've made some AF adjustments in the custom functions, maybe your lens is focusing slower than the camera is telling it to.
If your lens has Image Stabilization, make sure if you're panning that you use mode 2 rather than mode 1. Mode 1 is for stationary hand-holding and accommodates normal up and down movements and Mode 2 is for panning with subjects. I forget to change modes all the time.
I really don't have another tip other than keep shooting, you'll only get better with practice.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Mike Shipman