Red-shouldered Hawk juvenile – Small in the Frame

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Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk - Small in frame - Sawgrass County ParkJuvenile Red-shouldered Hawk – Small in frame – Sawgrass County Park

Five days ago I posted a Bald Eagle image where the eagle was small in the frame and explained that I felt that the setting was as important as the subject, I also feel that way about this image of a Red-shouldered Hawk juvenile perched in a tree. I photographed this young Red-shouldered Hawk at Sawgrass County Park in Pinellas County, Florida a few years ago as the early morning light lit up the grasses and Bamboo in the background.

The subject doesn’t always need to fill the frame to have impact and appeal, sometimes the background or habitat has as much appeal as the subject.



  1. Julie Brown January 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I totally agree with you, Mia. I like seeing the environment. This is a handsome juvi-nice fresh markings on this bird.

  2. Wally January 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    “…the setting was as important as the subject…”

    I completely agree. Close ups are wonderful and the type of details YOU are able to achieve are spectacular. However, I really enjoy seeing where the bird lives and a shot such as that of your young hawk tells a story one could not ascertain from a full-frame image of just the bird.

    Nice work!

    (I’m wrestling with a similar situation now. This morning I took a shot of Pileated Woodpecker in the fog. Due to the distance to subject and the fog, the bird is not detailed. But the surreal look of his surroundings in the fog produced an image I like. I’ll probably use it, since I don’t have many of those “tack sharp” kind you flaunt so readily!) 🙂

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Wally, I saw your Pileated Woodpecker image in the fog and loved it. The images has a story to tell that a closer crop may not have allowed. Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    You really can feel the true size of your subject and the environment within which it lives when it’s within context of its environment this way. While I really enjoy your close ups… boy they are magnificent… I also find great value in seeing a photo such as this that helps me to understand relationships.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks Merrill, sometimes images where the subject is small in the frame tell a great story.

  4. Rohrerbot January 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Adorable! Such a little guy.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you Chris. Do you get Red-shouldered Hawks in AZ?

  5. eric c11 January 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    beautifull composition, well seen mia

  6. Seagullsteve January 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    You speak the truth. In fact, since I’m limited to 400mm, I’m all about backgrounds and settings. Closeups are SO last year.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah Steve, close ups are so last year! 😉 Except when you are showing your birds from Costa Rica, I have severe facemelt now from viewing them.

  7. Jane Chesebrough January 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I can see the youth in this bird and hate to say it but “it looks so cute!” The focus is clear; the DOF chosen really is on the mark. Appreciate all the green at this time of year as well.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Jane, I don’t like to be anthropomorphic either but there are times when “cute” is the first word that pops into my brain and I can’t help but say it. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Sherry in MT January 25, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Everything that needs to be in focus on this is – it is truly an amazing shot that tells a story. I love it!

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Sherry, I’m glad you love it.

  9. Bob Bushell January 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Oh, I’m sorry, your picture is fabulous, no need to crop Mia.

  10. Bob Bushell January 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

    On most things, I too feels it is necessary to crop, but there are sometimes where not to crop, e.g. the object is too near or it looks to good.

  11. Beverly Everson January 25, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Dan expressed my thoughts perfectly!

  12. M. Firpi January 25, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I am one of those that is always tempted to crop too. Here’s when I’ve had to make the decision whether to make the image documentary in nature, truly describing its surroundings, vs. manipulating it to a certain extent. But as you say, to render the image as truly documentary it must include the setting. This is something I have learned from you.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Maria, when the setting is as interesting as the subject I try to take some images where the subject is small in the frame if possible, I find I end up liking them quite often. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  13. Kathleen January 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

    The muted tones of the background really work! They seem to strengthen the detail of the feathers.

  14. Dan Huber January 25, 2013 at 4:48 am

    I love this shot Mia, the hawk looks so young. I am always tempted to crop a photo to the bird only, but the setting can make the shot much nicer.

    • Mia McPherson January 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks Dan, this Red-shouldered Hawk was probably only recently fledged when I photographed it.

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