Galapagos Hawk x 2

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1/1250s @ f/6.3 ISO 500 @ FL 400mm

I photographed this beautiful Galapagos Hawk last week on Espanol Island in the Galapagos.  I was hoping for an opportunity to capture one, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get two for the price of one.  I saw two hawks cavorting in the sky above me (a mating pair I assume), and then they both swooped down and perched mere feet away from me.  They were not skittish at all, and allowed me to train my big 400mm on them.  I took dozens of shots from about 4-meters away, and my lens cannot focus any closer than 3.5-meters (its minimum focusing distance, or MFD).  This guy was in the shade of the cactus plant, and backlit (fill-flash would have helped a lot, but it is strictly forbidden in Galapagos).  I had to rely on Photoshop to recover the detail in the shadow areas; I wasn’t completely successful, but I think this image is certainly acceptable.  My autofocus (AF) was spot on, and at f/6.3 I had sufficient depth of field (DOF) to keep both his beak and eyes in sharp focus.

Photographer’s note:  Image captured in CameraRAW with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame camera, and Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super-telephoto prime lens.  RAW file was converted in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), and post-edits were completed in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11).  Special attention was given to recovering feather detail in the shadow areas, and to keeping highlights toned down.  A little tweak to contrast and sharpening finished off the edits.  A light vignette was added to draw attention to the subject.  SFD

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Espanol Island – Galapagos, Ecuador

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