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It's in the eye!

By Emilpix
A wild and free flying 1st year male Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus). Nikon 7000 with Sigma APO-150.0-500.0 mm f/5.0-6.3; f7.1 @1/800 sec at ISO 500 from a distance of 1.8 metres.

The bird alighted on a fence opposite my house and I managed to very slowly approach it to 1.8 metres taking a series of photographs as i approached. My lucky day!

Critique is welcome through this was an opportunist shot and all I wanted to catch was a half decent shot given the opportunity. I guess as a portrait it's not too bad as it shows the sharp and bright eye and the ferocious beak both of which mark this out as a predator.

Tags: Wildlife and nature Hawk bird prey

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mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2408 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2013 3:34PM
Sharp where it needs to be, on the sharp bits of the bird (eye and beak), and the settings look eminently sensible to this non-wildlifer. Your choice of aperture has isolated it well against a natural, unintrusive background.

Composition-wise, I wish you hadn't zoomed in quite so close, in order to allow a little more space for it to look up into. Less apace is needed at the sides, particularly on the left. It's space top right that matters.

I'll try a quick Mod to demonstrate.
17 Dec 2013 4:14PM
Thank you for this very valid comment and the mod. Probably the last thing on my mind at the time was to produce a perfect photograph, the first thing was 'How durn close can i get to this thing'!
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1849 England
17 Dec 2013 4:16PM
I've done a mod, too - cropping, and also (very crudely) burning in and cloning to make the background plainer on the right.

It's always easy to end up with the subject too much in the centre, rather than on the Thirds. I think the advent of AF made this rather worse...
17 Dec 2013 4:34PM
Fantastic detail especially around the beak and eye! Agree with mrswoolybill regarding more space for the subject to look into but it's still a stunning image.
banehawi Plus
16 2.5k 4241 Canada
17 Dec 2013 5:58PM
A good shot, nice and sharp. A head shot rather than the full body shot.

The main feedback from me is the composition, - not that you were too worried about it at the time. With editing, you have the ability to position the bird in the frame with more space above, to look into, and place it off centre.

I have also loaded a mod, with cropping done as suggested. Ive also brightened the eye.

View all mods LARGE.


paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2013 8:11PM
I appreciate the problems. The head is superbly shown but I would be wanting the head to fill the frame more, not less. You could have a full length shot of the bird, but not a wider yet still cropped image. Very well done with a difficult subject, but degree of difficulty is not the issue. This kind of quality and a full frame of just the head.

I'm going to let my daft out now, and I'm not an expert, but are you absolutely sure this is a Sparrowhawk? I realise you are saying young and I'm not fully conversant with how a young Sparrowhawk looks before it's first moult, but the shape of the chest markings look more Kestrel than Sparrowhawk. I am probably wrong as a layman with limited knowledge, and a Sparrowhawk is going to be a bit larger than a Kestrel.

paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2013 8:14PM
Have shown a friend and looked at a Kestrel image. No eye stripe here, so I'm probably wrong.

18 Dec 2013 10:16AM
Thank you all for your kind observations. I do have a full length version, taken moments earlier but thought that this had more impact and was more fitting for critique. As to whether it be a Sparrow Hawk, after 60 years of 'birding' experience and having handled many - take my word for it, it is! =8) Given comments thus far, and as not so experienced a photographer, I guess I should be fairly happy with this photograph and most others taken at the time. Thank you all again.
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
18 Dec 2013 12:19PM
I stand corrected. Fine quality. I just like the impact of tight close up images.


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