Getting the Photo - March 11, 2024

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Jax Eagle Pix Blog

Bald Eagle Blog, where I share my regular encounters and photos of Bald Eagles.

Getting the Photo - March 11, 2024
Getting the Photo - March 11, 2024

Hello everyone.  I hope everyone is having a good week.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, I’ve shared some of the challenges in photographing Bald Eagles.  In this weeks post, I’m going to take you through an entire photo trip for Bald Eagles from planning through Post Processing and share all that I must take into account to capture images that I like.

Do No Harm

I've posted this in previous blogs, but it bears repeating.  My #1 rule for observing / photographing Bald Eagles is to do no harm.  I never want to do anything that may cause the bird to become stressed or to modify their normal behavior.

Federal regulations require you to maintain a distance of 330 feet and I'm always consciensous that I'm always outside of that distance.


I'm also mindful to talk quietly and not make any sudden movements that may impact the bird.

Planning

I’m out photographing eagles several days a week, so in some respect, I am in a constant state of planning.  I am regularly in contact with a handful of other eagle photographers and we share locations and other specific details with one another.  This helps me to determine the areas that I may want to visit for eagle photography.

I’m also constantly checking the weather.  The eagles don’t seem to be impacted much by the weather but I sure am.  I don’t mind the cold much but it is very difficult to photograph in the stronger wind.  My camera gets blown around!  For me, the perfect weather is early morning when you get the best light, calm winds and bright skies.  Oh, and a few puffy clouds in the sky make for a better background.

Gear  

I’m planning on doing an entire blog post on gear in the future, but before I walk out the door, I double check that I have charged batteries and a memory card in the camera.  Depending on how long I expect to be out, I’ll also take spare batteries.

Also, need to remember to take hat, gloves & hand warmers.  Forgetting one of these can make for a very miserable day.

Finding Eagles to Photograph

I’m fortunate, that I have a pair of eagles that frequent a small lake very close to my house.  So this is always my first stop.  If I see them upon my arrival, great.  If not, I’ll generally hang out for a while and wait to see if they’ll make an arrival.  

I’ve had a pretty good success rate in finding them this year.  I’m guessing I’ve found them on about 75% of trips.

If I don’t find them nearby, I’ve got a couple other spots I can check where I also routinely see them.  So I’ll repeat the same routine.  Waiting at each location to see if they arrive.  If not, I’ll move onto the next spot.

I’ll generally repeat the process on the way home, again checking each spot hoping to find some eagles.

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Local pond where I routinely see eagles.  This is John & Sandy's favorite spot~

Taking my Photos

I’m always hoping for good action photos.  So once I’ve found the eagles, the waiting begins.  Eagles can hang out in a single spot for hours.  I’m trying to wait them out in the hopes that I can capture them launching from their perch or some other interesting behavior.

I’ve taken literally hundreds if not thousands of photos of eagles sitting on a limb or in flight and I’m less interested in these photos.  I’m always keeping my fingers crossed for the epic ‘action photos’!  

So for sometimes hours, I’ll keep my eye pressed to the back of the camera and my finger poised on the shutter button waiting for something to happen.

It seems without fail, as soon as I take my eye off the camera for even a split second, the eagle will take off or do something exciting.  I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me!

Hopefully, I’m able to come away with some good photos.  If not, that’s ok.  I still get to spend some time with these beautiful birds and feel that capturing photos is a bonus!

Below are a few examples of what I consider to be some good photos and some near misses.

While the picture below, has good focus and good color, I find it to be a boring image.  The eagle is just hanging out.  I also don't like the man-made cell tower in the photo.  Whenever possible, I try to exclude any man-made objects in my photos.

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I took the next photo about a minute after the  one above.  I zoomed in a little tigher with my camera to take the cell tower out of the image.  I also like the gesture that the eagle is exhibiting by using his claw to scratch his beak.