Definitely a better day with the eagles today. The weather has been a little colder and we’ve even had a little snow. I arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon a little later than usual, the sun had been up for about an hour by the time I arrived so I didn’t know what to expect. Lately the eagles have been all done in the canyon an hour or two after sunrise.
Just as I got to the bend I spotted a beautiful bald eagle on a branch right across the river in perfect light! I stopped and adjusted the camera for a portrait in early light. Since I had the door frame to steady the lens on I decided to try a 400th of a second with F8 and a -2/3 exposure compensation (EC) which in that light brought my ISO down to a usable 1250. The wind was blowing hard though and I could see that his feathers were fluttering so I figured I’d better get a few shots with a faster shutter speed, I thought a 1250th of a second should do the trick. Then I prepared for flight. Shutter priority with a 1600th of a second and F8, my widest aperture with this lens and teleconverter combination.
Eventually he took flight but I only had a few feet of space to get in a shot before he went behind the choke cherry bushes. But I got a couple of nice captures 🙂 I continued driving upstream and spotted a second baldie. This one was in a terrible position for a shot though, backlit and high in a tree with the bright blue sky behind him. I changed my EC to +1 and snapped a few before he took flight. Much to my surprise though the great raptor turned around and headed straight back at me! My settings were perfect for a bird in flight with the blue sky as a backdrop so I know I nailed some of them!
Eventually my day was over and I was on my way back downstream when I spotted yet another one high in the trees on top of the ridge. I didn’t think anything would come of this situation but by then this eagle was a bit jumpy. He took flight a few times with the early morning sun shining upon him and a couple times he flew right at me. I didn’t nail them all but I nailed a bunch of good frames!
I found today encouraging, more eagles, better compositions and more cold weather on the way. I think by next month the eagles will have settled into the canyon for a good winter of raptor photography! Don’t forget to check out my new Kindle book about last year’s raptor photography! Tons of great picture and the story of some of our favorite local birds!
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