The Photo of the Week is posted every Monday. Each photo aims to document the things I've seen, places I've been and all sorts of curious things I have encountered as I go about my daily activities. Along with the photo I will provide some background and interesting facts about the image and some technical information as well.
Many years ago, the population of the Red-tailed Hawk was dangerously low but now, due to it being a protected species their numbers have grown substantially. Travel along I-91 or I-84 and you are almost guaranteed to spot some perched atop the light poles or standing in the grassy median. These birds are extremely beneficial to the environment by helping to keep the pesky rodent population in check. Gracefully soaring high in the sky or dive bombing their prey at impressive speed, the Red-tailed Hawk's agility in the air is a treasure to behold.
This photo was taken on a cold January morning while walking through the woods. This dead tree appeared at the edge of a clearing and the hawk sat there motionless as if it thought he wouldn't be noticed as long as it kept still. I wanted to take a picture quickly but I had to move very slowly so as not to scare him away. Trying to remain quiet was another challenge due to the crunching icy snow beneath my shoes! I set my 70-200mm lens to its maximum focal length, ISO set to 100 for the cleanest image quality, aperture set at 5.6 for a modest depth of field and a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second to help overcome any camera shake (or my shivering!).
The hawk had a great view from his high vantage point but also a clear path in almost every direction if it decided to swoop down after his next meal. Then something cool happened. After I snapped a photo, the hawk looked at me and winked one eye. I looked at the photo on my camera's viewfinder and returned to gaze up at the hawk and he had vanished! I had looked away for only a second or two but it was enough time for him to disappear without a trace, leaving me with this photo as the only evidence of our encounter.
Equipment and Settings
1/400sec at f5.6, ISO 100