Composite photograph representing a kettle of broad-winged hawks

Broadwing Kettle

I spent some time at a hawk watch today. The Broad-winged Hawks were migrating. They tend to fly together in groups called kettles. The kettles can have from a few birds to hundreds. Today at this watch the kettles seemed to be a dozen or two in size. The total count was over 300 birds for the day when I left, and there were still several hours of potential counting to go. Today’s image is a composite. It’s what a photograph of a kettle might look like were I able to catch more birds in a single frame. So, the image is manipulated, but what it shows–many hawks together–is a real phenomenon.

As a bonus, I got to play with image stacking to create it. The originals were taken with a Nikkor 70-300mm AF-S ED VR on a Nikon D90. I stacked whole images as layers…I did not cut-and-paste any individual birds. I set the blue sky to the transparent alpha channel in all but the bottom image. The solid blue sky made this very straightforward. I used Acorn.

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