Screeching Red-tailed Hawk was my alarm clock today

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard on our deck. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.8, 1/400]

I woke up this morning to screeching in our backyard. Sometimes this is the squirrels, and other times, it is the chipmunks, but today it was this Red-tailed Hawk.

Let me walk you through this photo shoot that was more about reacting to the moment than having planned to be shooting a hawk this morning.

The photo at the top was taken later when I worked on the images in Adobe Lightroom when the hawk decided to get closer to food. Our bird-feeders where squirrels and small birds hang out around our deck.

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard is eating a squirrel. This one kept on screeching with another hawk nearby. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 18000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

I first grabbed the closest camera and shot photos of the Red-tailed Hawk in the tree in our backyard eating a squirrel it had just caught. This was the Fuji X-E2. However, I quickly got my best camera to get this up close.

Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport

I grabbed the Nikon D5 and put my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | S with a TC-2001 [2x converter], which gave me a 600mm ƒ/5.6 lens.

ExpoDisc EXPOD2-77 2.0 Professional White Balance Filter 77 mm, 82mm (Black)

By the way, before I put the telephoto on the camera, I put a 35mm lens and then did a custom white balance using my ExpoDisc. This helped me get the most accurate color under all the leaves and trees in our backyard.

I then quickly put this in my sports settings. I did this because I just needed to pick my custom settings where I had programmed my camera for sports. Here is a blog post to walk you through it.

After shooting many photos, I realized the hawk was staying until it was finished with the meal. This gave me time to go and find a tripod because I was hand holding the camera and lens up to this point.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]

Then I went to the Nikon shooting menu and picked regular. This let me shoot at ISO 900 versus ISO 18000. I lowered the shutter speed from 1/4000 to 1/200.

I continued to shoot photos looking for moments where I felt like I was capturing the hawk as I wanted to portray it to you.

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard on our deck. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.8, 1/400]

When it was sitting on the railing on our deck, I watched as I thought it was looking for a squirrel hiding under our gas grill.

Since I had put away the Nikon D5 and the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | S, I grabbed the Fuji X-E2 with the 55-200mm attached and got just a few more shots before it flew away.