Flight 11! During my travels to Kachemak Bay off the coast of Homer, Alaska, I was photographing Bald Eagles. This image I named Flight 11 simply because it was the eleventh flight shot that I processed from the many images I captured over the five days we were in Alaska. I have had many experiences photographing birds. If you click the above menu and go to my galleries, you will se one from Canada where I was photographing Snowy Owls a few years ago. The trick to a sharp focused photo of birds in flight is to try and pick one out as they are flying towards you. Track them with your finger on the shutter release tapping the release as they fly closer, keeping them constantly in focus. Once they get close enough to trip the shutter, the camera usually will stay locked on them as they dip into the water or fly by you in search of food. Having a camera with the ability to take multiple frames at a fast sequence is essential. I was shooting with my Nikon D3s for most of the flight shots as I found it to be the one most reliable in giving me sharp focus tracking. At up to 9 frames per second, the D3s worked well even in cold and damp weather conditions.
Some birds are difficult to capture in any sequence because they are much smaller and faster than the Eagles and the Owls. Puffins for example are pretty fast. You can use the same tracking method that I described earlier, just don’t expect the same number of perfect focused images. Some birds are just too fast or too small to track. In these cases the only hope is for them to perch on a tree or rock or something else and capture them as they wait to move on. If there is food in the area, birds often stop on a branch nearby and then jump to the feeders. They have a tendency to come back to the same branch each time. Patience and a steady hand will help in capturing smaller birds as they wait to move for their food. Some of the people I have encountered in my travel are just Bird enthusiasts. They seldom take photographs of landscapes or larger wildlife. They are just bird photographers and they are masters of their craft. Being a more generalized kind of photographer, I like to think my portfolio is more diverse and offer my clients many selections. Next trip, wildflowers in the Colorado Rockies just a few weeks away. Enjoy!
Well, spring has left us once again. This time last year we had warm temperatures and found our way to the golf course in mid March. This year brought a brief respite from the cold last week, but we are back in it again. 40s and raining for the week. My wife has been going out of the way to remind me how cold it is and hinted that a getaway to a warmer climate might be just the trick. Since running off to warmer climates is not in our future, I thought I would post one of the images I captured while we were vacationing in St. Maarten last January. The island is a beautiful place to go to chill out on the beach and enjoy the warm weather. St. Maarten is in the Dutch West Indies and has a Dutch influence on one side of the island, and a French influence on the other side. We have enjoyed our trips over the past few years and look forward to our return next year.
The weather is typically in the 80s most of the time with an occasional rain shower. Most of the rain comes in at night or early in the morning. The above photograph was taken while I sat on the patio in front of our Condo. I like to sit out early in the morning and catch a few moments of quiet time before people start to get about their beach activities. Rainbows are pretty prolific here in St. Maarten and often times multiple Rainbows will grace us with their presence. This is a shot towards the airport before the boats start leaving the harbor. I have quite a few more Eagle images to post, so stay tuned. Enjoy!
Spring has finally started to arrive here in Northwest Ohio and the golf clubs have been in use. This posting features a Juvenile Bald Eagle on a perch. One of the afternoons while photographing Bald Eagles in Alaska, the weather was perfect and the Eagles were flocking around us. I had set up my 600mm with my Nikon D4 and slowly approached this Juvenile Eagle that was perched on a rock. The spit of land we were on featured many rocks and deadwood branches that allowed the Eagles to perch before sailing off in search of food. I slowly crept up on this young eagle. Grabbed a few shots and moved closer. Grabbed another few shots and eventually was able to fill my frame with this Eagle. The bird was turning his head from side to side and allowed my quite a bit of time to photograph.
When given time and opportunity, you can capture many different types of images. I captured many horizontal shots showing the bird in his environment as well as vertical shots showing more of a portrait shot. Having a fixed mount lens I could not zoom in or out but needed to physically move my Tripod. Most of the other photographers were focused on other birds in another area of the spit. Having a one on one perspective, I could photograph this bird all day as long as he wasn’t distracted by anything else or scare him off by myself. So, I worked slowly and methodically working my subject in many ways to capture the essence of this Juvenile Eagle. The results made me very happy, but did not compare with the experience of sharing space with these magnificent Bald Eagles. Enjoy!
The fact that this post is merely named “Flight” is because it was the first of many images I processed while on my adventure to Homer, Alaska last month. This image was taken on the first day of the trip and, as you can see, we had great light. We set off in the morning and the light was still golden in color as it reflected off the water and highlighted this Bald Eagle in flight over the Kachemak Bay. We had various weather conditions over the 5 days we spent in Alaska. The first day was one of the best with good sky and great light. Nature photographers are always subject to the kindness of Mother Nature, or the not so kind actions as we saw the rest of our stay. One morning the snow was heavy and the clouds were thick. A 9:30 departure time was moved almost to 11 as the skies cleared and provided us an opportunity for a somewhat smooth boat ride out to the Eagles.
Each night, as we ate our evening meal, we discussed the next day’s weather forecast and tried to decide on the best time to head out. One or two of the days was overcast but not snowing allowing us unlimited shooting time. Other days, too bright sun or not enough light hindered our efforts. I came prepared for wet weather and extreme cold. Planning for a trip like this is essential. Making sure you have the right camera gear is just one of the considerations. having the appropriate weather gear is just as necessary as we never know what we will experience. I had weather gear for cold weather and wet weather. Wet weather gear also included rain covers for my camera and lenses. I have to protect myself as well as my investment in gear to ensure that I can survive to shoot another day. So like they say in the Boy Scouts, always be prepared, Enjoy!
Another boring title. Flight 10 is an image I selected for today’s post to illustrate the environment we were in while photographing Bald Eagles over the Kenai Peninsula near Homer, Alaska. You can see the hillside behind the Eagle in this shot. Although you can see it, it does not really tell the story of our surroundings. The hills were actually mountains all around the Kachemak Bay area. The eagles were perched in the trees in the mountain ranges surrounding us as we motored over near land. Circling our boat the eagles would soar around us and dive to the waters edge allowing us to capture these great flight images. Equipment was the key here and I was well prepared for what I would experience.
A fast lens and a fast camera were the rule of the day. So I grabbed my Nikon D3s and paired it with my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens which gave me 9 frames per second fast shooting under often times cloudy skies. I was shooting in manual mode most of the week using my ISO as the one variable. Shooting at 1/2500th of a second while at an F stop of 5.6 I was able to use an ISO of about 800 or less. The D3s has great auto focusing capabilities so this combination work well in helping me capture the images I was looking for here in Alaska. Most of my flight shots were captured while hand holding the camera. Using a tripod was out of the question for several reasons. One was because the birds were moving so fast, you needed to be able to swing the camera in a way that would be impossible on a tripod. Another problem was that we were shooting from a boat with a flat bottom for the most part and the rocking motion of the waves became problematic even when hand holding the camera. The fast shutter speed allowed me to track and capture a sharp image of these eagles while good hand holding technique helped to keep my camera steady through the flight of the birds. More to come, Enjoy!
The sun is shining here in Northwest Ohio, but it is still cold. Hoping that golf season would start, but again we wait. Here is an image I call Flight 25. I know, its a boring title. But I could spend hours coming up with new and descriptive titles for the posts of Eagles in flight from my recent trip to Alaska, but there are better things to do around the office and posting images of Bald Eagles is one of them. In addition, I have already started posting images to a hard bound book I am working on for future publication. I have many flight shots from my trip and this is one of my favorites. So much so that I chose this for the cover of the book. It didn’t hurt that I had a lot of blue sky to the right where type would go giving a Title to my book. For many of these flight shots I was using a short telephoto zoom lens. We were working from a boat for most of the flight shots and I was able to capture many images. The trick is to try and catch them in the air as they approached the boat and then follow them with my focus button until the time to trip the shutter. Since my camera gave me 8 frames per second, I was able to get a large number of flight shots illustrating many different facets of Bald Eagles in flight. So ignore the boring title and enjoy the beautiful image capture of a Bald Eagle in Flight. More to come! Enjoy!
I have been a little busy upon my return from Alaska this past Monday. I have been working on several images of Eagles from the Kenai Peninsula in hopes of putting together a hard bound book of photographs. The above image was submitted for review on 500px. 500px is a web site where photographers around the world can post images for critique by other photographers. They are rated by how many people review and “like” the photographs. Then they are posted on the 500px web site and placed according to rating. For my first time I received a score of 97.2 which garnered a significant number of votes from other photographers. I was honored to be recognized and thank the respondents for their kind comments and for supporting my efforts on 500px. More to come, Enjoy!
Well, the time has come to leave Alaska for the warmer (?) temps of Northwest Ohio. While you read this post, Flight 10, I will be in the air on my way to Detroit via Minneapolis. A long day of travel brings to end an exciting adventure that I wanted to complete for years. I now have more Eagle images than many of my friends. Stay tunes right here on my blog as I will begin a regular posting and comments from my 5 days here at the Land’s End in Homer, Alaska. Enjoy!
Our fourth day here in Homer, Alaska found us once again out on the spit where we surrounded by 80 to a hundred Eagles. We had an overcast day, a bit colder than the rest of the stay here in Homer, and a slight wind. We were able to get a few flight shots but the highlight of the day were the Eagles perching on the various dead wood branches scattered across the spit. Our challenge was to find an Eagle on a perch where the light was right, the background was interesting, and the bird was facing in the right direction. Needless to say we were not disappointed. Enjoy!
We were off to a late start this morning due to inclement weather. We knew snow was on the way but not how it would affect our efforts to photograph the Eagles here in Homer, Alaska. We were only delayed a few hours but the wait was well worth it. We travelled out to the spit, a narrow strip of land jutting out into the water, and there we found the Eagles. Not one or two, but about 100 to 150. I was totally blown away. I got out the big lens, my Nikon 600mm, and started trying to grab portrait shots like the one you see here. It was Eagle paradise and we stayed a couple of hours working the angles around dead wood perches, sand dunes, Eagles in the Air and everywhere. I have posted many of my images so far from the shoot in my gallery here on the web site. Go to the above menu list, click on Galleries, and look for the Alaska Eagles 2013 Gallery, Enjoy!