Winter is a great time for bird photography here in Texas. The tall prairie grass has faded to its normal winter color, a reddish-brown but still stands proudly against the cool northern breeze. Thousands of field mice, possums, skunks, raccoons and squirrels hunt through the tall grass in search of winter fare and hundreds of eager hawks, osprey, vultures and an occasional bald-eagle watch eagerly from the skies.
Hawk – Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 7D set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM + EF 1.4x Extender mono-pod mounted. The exposure was taken at 560mm, f/7.1 for 1/800th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.
Watching these raptors hunt is a joy for any naturalist but the thrill of photographing these amazing hunters in action is both a rare treat and a difficult challenge. Fortunately, technology has finally caught up to desire and with a little luck, even these elusive predators can be captured in flight (and in focus).
And with Canon’s EF 400mm f/4L DO IS USM (diffraction optics) lens, you can do it without breaking your back, if not your wallet. At a little over $6000 this is not Canon’s least expensive long lens but it is the smallest and lightest-weight 400mm lens on the market today. Combine this with Canon’s EF 1.4x II Extender and you’ve got a 560mm f/5.6 prime lens that is truly tack sharp, even when hand-held. I prefer however, to mount mine on a Gitzo monopod using Really Right Stuff’s high-capacity monopod solution. Coupled to an EOS 7D this is a killer bird photography rig that any wildlife photographer would be proud to carry, even those friends of mine that have given in to the “dark side” and moved from Canon to Nikon (yes, that’s you Josh and you David :-)).