Photo documentary of wildlife

Engsiong Tan
2 min readJul 19, 2023

Why wildlife photography is never movie magic

Yesterday was a wet day. Unfortunately, it only started when I was in the middle of a leisure wildlife shoot. I was lucky to capture the action shot below. Full disclosure: I am not a professional and my gear is not the best.

Action

From what you can see from the picture, there is a raptor attacking another bird. A natural dogfight. Nature, red in tooth and claw (More accurately talons for raptors.) For people who comment that my avian subjects are very small in the pictures, I need to point out that birds are usually very shy and like to keep their distance.

Photo by author
Photo by author

Special effects

I then threw the pictures to an online software to enhance. This enhanced the crow instead of the raptor. First clue that the raptor is an Accipitridae because it uses its talons offensively. Most raptors in this family have the ability to fly with a prey clutched using its talons similar or even heavier than its body weight.

Lights! Camera! Action!

I would love to say that the crow struck a fatal blow but the truth was that the crow never touched his feathered adversary. There were no feathers flying, noise or contact. It was like the movie Top Gun Maverick during the aerial training montage. There was a lot of circling and manoeuvring. The crow tried to stay above and on the rear of the raptor. I would love to say that there was plenty of aerial acrobatics stunts but these were the only action scenes.

En tu, crow? Then fall Aquila

If you are totally underwhelmed by this knowledge, the truth is that most experts have little clue to what exactly happens in the raptor hunts. The raptor flew away unharmed after the midair kerfuffle. To most readers, it is much ado about nothing. To me, it is a bright spot in taking wildlife photos.

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