Early this evening, I saw this Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree by the road and thought I'd test out my new camera. I was hoping to get him while he perched, illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun but, as always happens, he heard and saw me coming (though I was way down at the bottom of a hill and he was on a tree up top) and took off. The thing is, I always think, "there's no way this big predator will even notice me down here!" but raptors are far more skittish than I give them credit for. I've learned to turn on the camera before I even get close to these roadside raptors so they don't hear it coming on, but perhaps I need to zoom before as well. Still, I was able to catch this dark silhouette; I really like the beak profile.
Later, I headed to Bald Eagle State Park after work to see if I could spot some migrating geese or anything overhead in the fast-fading light. I figured there'd be nothing in the water, as we've had absolutely beeeeyoootiful days lately so no birds would be forced down by the rain and cloud cover. I've seen and heard a few Vs of Canada Geese in the last few days.
As predicted, there wasn't one bird on the lake; overhead, nothing. I chose as my vantage point a pull-off that overlooks the majority of the lake and the marina. I've seen Common Loons at the marina before, but tonight there were none. No mergansers; no Mallards even. Nothing. I heard the mewling of a Gray Catbird and the chipping call of a Northern Cardinal. The only other sound was the roar of passing cars.
Still, the evening wasn't a total loss:
The full moon shines on the 23rd, but this is pretty close to full. I put the camera on my tripod and played around with several of the modes on the camera, from Night Portrait to Starry Sky. Starry Sky mode was actually an adjustable long-exposure setting, with 15-, 30-, and 60-second settings. Here's what the moonlight flecks on the water looked like on fairly fast exposure:Here's what it looks like with 15 seconds of exposure:
I'm wondering if that's the setting that one would use to catch moving water, like a waterfall, with that blurry motion effect.
All in all, the camera performed quite well in the low light. I was pleased with the fast focusing and shutter speed on the raptor photo; the backlighting was inevitable, given where the bird flew and the time of day. I'm feeling more comfortable with the camera too. I need to learn more about the different modes and what works best for what scenarios, but the automatic mode pretty much rocked.