Red Shouldered Hawk Feather on the ground

Telephoto Macro

A feather became a “macro” shot for my telephoto lens. I had my telephoto with me while outside on other business, on the chance something might pop up for the next One Picture a Day. I took my telephoto because with rain approaching on a gray February day I figured a bird or other animal was going to be my most likely interesting subject. I found something left behind by a bird instead. This feather is from what I presume to be a Red-shouldered Hawk. The feather was as you see it, lying on the ground with a few of the first raindrops of the day balanced on it.

This presented a challenge. I am not in the habit of bringing my whole kit with me. I try to pick one lens, and make that my lens for the trip, at least for short outings. (Sometimes I’ll bring along a second lens, usually my macro, the Micro-Nikkor 60mm AF f/2.8, for those nature close-ups which I enjoy.) Just one (or two lenses) keeps you focused. When out with a telephoto, I look for telephoto-suited subjects and ignore wide-angles; vise-versa with a wide angle or macro. More lenses tend to make me get into a cycle of second-guessing which lens to use, and that leads to switching, and lost opportunities. The trade-off is that sometimes you encounter a subject for which you really wish you had “the other lens.” Today was such a day. This would have been a great macro subject. But with no macro along, I made due with what I had.

The 70-300mm AF-S VR ED is not the closest-focusing lens in the world. But, it’s not bad for a telephoto. I’m not sure of the specs off hand, but it seems to be in the 4-5 foot range. I dialed out 300mm, then stepped back to the minimum focusing distance.  I actually was very interested to see how the telephoto would treat a macro subject. Fortunately, the feather was big enough to fill the frame. I would have liked to get closer, of course, but I could not, so I had to compose for a full profile of the feather. Telephoto tends to flatten the image, too, so we lost some of the impression of dimension that a macro might bring. On the other hand, the depth of field covered the whole subject easily.

Today’s photograph was post-processed in Paint.NET. Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and a little Black Point work were all I did.