The coolest thing yesterday...

>> Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feel free to scroll down to the cool part, which will be self-evident, and skip the crap that leads up to it. Or not. Your call.

Two of the things that was derailed by last year's unfortunate incident were my photography and my forays to walk around the USNWC trails in an attempt to get a little exercise outside while also attempting to find things to take photographs of. For a good chunk of last year my hand was attached to a dysfunctional wrist--which made working the camera a problem--and for much of the same chunk of last year I wasn't supposed to do anything where I could re-break the wrist that my most-excellent surgeon, Dr. Perlik, had gone to so much trouble to bolt back together (of course trying not to re-break it wasn't really for his sake--he'd have rightly told me I was an idiot and re-repaired it like a pro).

Even after the wrist was cleared last year and I was good to go, I only got back to the USNWC one single time, and I continued not to shoot as many pictures as I wanted. I had a half-assed excuse for not revisiting the trails--it was cold and wet for much of that time, and the trails are closed when wet and wouldn't have been that much fun to walk even if they weren't--but the real issue was a certain amount of missing mojo (and forgive the Austin Powers reference, but it's a good phrase for it).

So yesterday it was cold and bright, and the weather report was calling for thunderstorms today, so I figured, "Screw it, go take a walk and take the camera." Truth is it was a little chilly for it, though I warmed up walking; I drove out there with the Bug's top down and it was definitely too chilly for that--I rode out there wearing a fleece and with the heater on.

It wasn't a bad walk. I'm horribly out of shape and was too damn winded on some of the hills, but that's the point of going. My shots were lackluster and I think they'll all turn out fairly awful, but that was alright, too--the real point was to fill up a memory card just to get into the act of taking shots again. And I went to Smelly Cat afterwards and wrote a hundred-or-so words after the well had been dry for the past three days, so that was good, too.

But the real high point was at the Whitewater Center as I was leaving. As I was packing up the car to head homeward, this hawk lands on some branches sticking out of a log, astonishingly close to the parking lot, maybe twenty, thirty yards away. There are a lot of birds of prey out there, but they usually like to stay up and away from the people getting ready to take hikes or ride bikes or head the other way to the Center's artificial rapids; a lot of the people who show up out there have dogs and kids, too, which probably is as intimidating to a solitary hunting bird as a trail bike or an automobile. But this bird--male or female, I have no idea--seemed a bit young and perhaps emboldened by the randiness of Spring (it is that time of year, after all--"Birds do it... bees do it..."). I rushed to unpack the camera, figuring the hawk would launch himself or herself at any moment--something they're wont to do, of course--and he or she just sat there.

So how do you not try to get close? And this was the coolest part--I must have gotten with twenty feet of him, or her. The bird just sat there, mostly ignoring me, though you can see from one of the pics below that the bird noticed I was there and stared at me a bit (the pic shows the bird staring at me indirectly: he or she also turned his or her head around and stared at me straight on with an "O RLY" sort of birdy stare). The hawk seemed more irritated by my presence than concerned, but that's surely pure anthropomorphizing on my part. Anyway, the bird stayed and let himself (or herself) be photographed for several minutes before abruptly bursting into the air (I have a picture that is nothing but feet, wingtips, and the perch that formerly supported them). I must have gotten a few dozen images--I haven't counted them--though I expected most of them would be awful and most were; I was too excited and too eager to get some images before the bird got scared or bored to pay enough attention to things like exposure, and the pictures all tend to be blown out except for the one that's too dark.

These six are among the more passable. They haven't had much done to them: the first four or five are using the camera's white balance and the last two I went with a preset for cloudy lighting (it wasn't cloudy today) because I realized the browns came out better that way. I also removed the blobs from one image where they were obvious--two artifacts that appear in every picture from the D40X that suggest it needs to be cleaned. And they've been re-scaled. Other than that, they're basically "as is."















4 comments:

vince Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 11:06:00 AM EDT  

I'm glad you decided to head out and take some pictures. Sometimes just deciding to do something even when you're not sure that you want to/should do it leads to awesome moments.

And considering the circumstances, I think you got some good pictures.

mattw Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 11:58:00 PM EDT  

Those are some nice pictures.

I've decided to take walks in the middle of the day at work and I've been using these little breaks to work on a new short story, unfortunately, I've come to a stuck point on that.

Good for you for getting out though.

Konstantin B. Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:24:00 AM EDT  

Poseur - the hawk I mean. Next thing he/she will want a reality show.

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