Sunday, October 14, 2012

American Bald Eagles and More...

Yesterday my plans were to take the boys to the National Zoo in Washington DC.  When we were getting ready to leave the house I looked up into the sky and saw FOUR, yes FOUR bald eagles soaring high above.  They were soaring in pairs of two, so I was unable to capture all four in the same photo ~ but it was absolutely magnificent to watch.  I love this time of year when the leaves are changing color, the weather is brisk, the farmer's markets are filled with yummy pumpkin items (like pumpkin fudge <3), and the animals are all out and enjoying the weather just as much as we are.

Here is a photo of the first pair.  Even with my 70-300mm lens, the eagles were too high to get a really good photo ~ but wanted to share.

ISO 100 ~ 300mm ~ f/11 ~ 1/250 sec
© Corrie M Avila

This next photo I took last month as the eagle was just getting ready to take off of his perch.  

ISO 100 ~ 300mm ~ f/8.0 ~ 1/400 sec
© Corrie M Avila

There are many challenges to photographing birds and Bald Eagles specifically.  You are at the mercy of the location of the bird and the sun.  When the Bald Eagles come to visit and hang out on their perch, they are where they are.  I can't ask them to turn around or move to a better position.  I know that I can move, but all that does is make the Bald Eagle nervous and many times fly away.  Since this is not what I want, I usually stay in the location that I am in.  But what I am able to do, is observe the animal's behavior so that I can anticipate what the Bald Eagle's next move may be.

For example, I know where the Bald Eagles like to hang out.  I know that many times (before nesting season) they will often be in a pair.  I also know that once one takes off, the other will usually follow behind very shortly.  I also know that once they take off towards the Potomac River, they will usually circle around and soar overhead for a little while.  So I can plan my position and where I will direct my camera based on what I "anticipate" they may do.  

Get to know your subject... observe, research, practice... and soon you will be getting better and better shots.  Also remember, most of the time you will have many other chances to get the shot you are looking for.  Maybe the subject will return a few minutes later (as many butterflies do), or even later in the day, or possibly another day.  Get to know the pattern of your subject and you may be surprised at how predictable they really are.

Next week I will return to the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  I plan on bringing a chair and planting myself somewhere so that I can hopefully catch some Bald Eagles and other wildlife just going about their business.  The trees should all be nicely changing color as well, so it should provide for some magnificent shots.

Happy Shooting!


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