Of Red-Tailed Hawks and Taking Advice

H5T1140-3_Juvenile Red Tail Hawk

A recent incident regarding one of my photographs made me think about how I act toward others concerning advice.  This, in turn, brought to mind the idea that it might serve as a good blog post, tied to some recent red-tailed hawk photographs I captured during an evening visit to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (since the hawk photos are the main reason for all of this in the first place).  My blog posts are like photo ops: I’m always trying to find another great reason to put one out there for public consumption.

I’m horrible at taking advice.  Doesn’t matter from whom:  my mother, my sister, my best friend.  I’m  an Aries woman with a strong Type A personality ; all the women in my family are a  bossy lot with strong opinions, so I don’t know if it’s a gender thing or a familial thing.  I readily admit to having  doled out advice without being asked for it.  I’ve been on the receiving end too; I was once married to a man who used to attend a weekly evening group session where people just listened to each other’s stories/rants/issues with the objective of being better listeners and not advice givers.  This same man – my then-husband –  would afterwards come home and start giving me unasked-for advice – apparently those group sessions didn’t help him much….or else this was his way of getting it all out of his system because he couldn’t impart his ” learned “ advice to the others in these group sessions.

I recently was once again on the receiving end of some unasked-for advice from a well-meaning (and very good) photographer who I met once through a mutual acquaintance and who owns a very expensive Nikon camera and a lens as big as I am.  I did not take his advice very gracefully, I’m afraid.  As a matter of fact, I did a slow burn over it for the remainder of the afternoon.

That being said, after I got home, I went through the hawk photos (the object of the advice) and actually did re-work several of them, following that unasked-for advice.  I do like the reworks, as a matter of fact.

This whole episode was a good learning experience for me and the gist of it all is knowing when to keep my own mouth shut, no matter how much I might want to say something. Oh, I’ve screwed up plenty in that department, believe me. I’ve had the temerity to ask probing questions then dole out unasked-for advice to people whose photography blogs I follow. What the hell was I thinking??!  If I don’t like unasked-for advice, then why would anybody else like it coming from me? Sigh. Lesson learned.

So, while it’s one thing to ask for advice, it’s another thing to get unasked-for advice. I now make every attempt to keep my mouth shut.  I am learning what a friend of mine calls “The Power of Shutting Up”. This doesn’t mean I won’t probably slip up at times to say something I perceive in my own little mind as being well-meaning. But I’m trying to not do that.

For you photographers out there, I promise I will keep my mouth shut tight and only give advice to you if you ask. For those of you who have been following my posts for a while, you know the photographic advice I impart here is more on the instructional level and not geared toward any one person or entity.

That being said, let’s take a look at some recent images I captured during a late afternoon visit to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (the whole reason in the first place for this longer-than-usual diatribe from me).

U9A7613-2_Sunrise Landscape

(ok, this is a morning shot, but it was so pretty I just had to post it here)

During this time of year, as I am zipping home from work in the evenings, I see all sorts of birds of prey looming over the highway, either perched high atop trees or else on signposts right next to the road. They are such beautiful creatures, but to try and photograph one while driving home is impossible.   I am driving fast, there are other commuters tailing me at a fast(er) rate, and if I pulled over and stopped rapidly, said raptor would fly away…..This is also not to mention that the only camera I have with me on a daily basis is one with a 40mm lens attached .  Yes, I always carry a camera with me – my “purse” is actually a Lowepro messenger-style case into which I store a camera with attached lens, hairbrush, extra pair of glasses, wallet, USB flash drive, pens, etc.

So this past weekend, I took a late afternoon drive out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge to see what was going on. The day had dawned chilly and warmed up to the mid-60’s. The sky was blue and the atmosphere was clear. The first sight that greeted me upon reaching Olney Pond within the refuge was a red-tailed hawk riding the currents against the backdrop of the deep blue sky.

H5T0768-2_Against The Clear Blue Sky

H5T0796_The Skys The Limit

From there, I found another red-tailed hawk perched atop a covered picnic area opposite of Cross Trails Pond.  After allowing me to get within a certain distance of it, this hawk flew away too (always use your Servo focus mode when photographing birds that may take flight, so you can keep them in focus as you pan your camera to follow their flight path).

H5T0983_Nice Vantage Point

H5T0988_On The Fly

After spending a little more time in that area, I returned to the car to head back toward the visitor center and out of the refuge toward home. I was driving reeeeaaaalllllyyy slowly and had glanced down at my camera on the passenger seat. Looking back up, I suddenly saw to my right this beautiful juvenile hawk perched on the metal post. I slowed the car to a stop. Lucky for me, the windows were already down. Hefting my camera/lens combo (without one of those window bean bags – I’ve used one before and personally find that it gets in my way), I rapidly and happily snapped away  for as long as this raptor was willing to pose for me.

H5T1136_Hello Becky CROP_Orig

This is the original photo.

H5T1136_Hello Becky

This is the photo after I applied the advice over which I had such a knee-jerk reaction.   In truth, I like the change….although I’m fine with the original, too.

H5T1173-2_The Look CROP

After the hawk flew away, I continued my slow trek along the auto-tour road, and spied another red-tailed hawk (could have been the same one since its leg was also banded) sitting high atop a pole specifically erected for perching purposes. This time, my 6-lb camera/lens combo was aimed through the open window of the passenger side to capture this awesome creature (thank goodness for image stabilization).

H5T1221_Hawk On A Perch

H5T1214-2_Hawk On A Perch

After this bird flew away, I knew it was time to go. I drove all the way home with a smile on my face.  Open-mouthed smile

H5T1234_Evening On The Refuge

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