Bald Eagle - Our National Symbol

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

I have become obsessed with photographing the Bald Eagle. Every opportunity I get this time of the year I am off to spend a day surrounded by these majestic creatures. How many photographs are enough ? I don't know what enough really is ..... Seldom are two photos alike, especially of an in-flight bald eagle. The scenery changes, the lighting varies and some photos are better than others. I'm still getting used to capturing them in-flight with a 700mm lens. But, I'm getting better. On Friday and Saturday, I took over 800 photos. My arms are tired. And, some days are obviously better than other days.

I've created this thread to share my photographic experience over the next few weeks with the Bald Eagle. Hope you enjoy it .......

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

I liked the first photo because the eagle is cast against the fall colors but they always show well against a background of blue sky.

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Marlton, NJ

Thats wonderful Linth! Looking forward to seeing more!

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, pelle. Here is an in-flight photo taken yesterday ......

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Going the other way .........

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Putnam County, IN(Zone 5b)

Okay...will get my bib next to computer for when I look at this thread.... :)

love the first one!!

Marlton, NJ

Incredible shots Linth! I would be there often too!

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

A little lunch !!! You can still see some movement in the water at the bottom left of the photo.

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Coming in for the kill with talons outstretched. I think you can see the fish near the surface of the water ?

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

An immature flying overhead .......

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Another in-flight adult .......

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Marlton, NJ

Awesome shots Linth!

The Ozarks, MO(Zone 5b)

I agree, they are wonderful Linth. I am looking forward to seeing more!!

Grand-Falls, NB(Zone 4a)

Awesome shots linth.

Melbourne, FL

Always thrilling to see them, I would spend every available moment there.

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thank you all ..........

What's great here is that you sometimes can get some shots from above so the lighting tends to be more favorable.

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Another fish catch .............

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Marlton, NJ

Oh that's wonderful!

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

He has a fish in his sights ..........

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, pelle ..... Hopefully, I don't duplicate these photos. I'm just picking and choosing !

I'm doing a better job locking in the focus. Too many times the subject is blurred and the background is in focus. And, using a teleconverter allows me to reach out farther but I'm giving up some sharpness. I'm not sure I want to keep using the 1.4x teleconverter except on still subjects.

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PERTH, Australia

Wow, linth, what a fantastic thread. Glad you started it and I look forward to frequent updates. Brilliant shots of truly magnificent birds.

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Margaret. Updates probably once a week .....

An adult Bald Eagle peering downward .....

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Another flight shot ..... and one off in the distance !

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Last one for tonight ........

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Fabulous!!! I can sit and watch this thread over and over again with delight! Thanks Linth.

Anchorage, AK(Zone 4a)

Another beautiful series, as usual, Lith. What kind of a setting do you have to get so many in flight shots? I almost never get a change for a flying shot, except when I spook a perched Eagle, by getting too close. On Friday, I returned to the lake where I had the 15 minute conversation last week, only to find it frozen solid.

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks Lily and Gary.

If I am shooting with Aperture priority, it is generally set at f/8. With adequate lighting the shutter speed will come in at a minimum of 1/800 sec to 1/1000 sec. On in-flight shots, my ISO is always set at 400. If I am shooting on Manual, I still prefer f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec to 1/1600 sec. Very few of my photos are ever overexposed. My biggest problem is fly-overs since you are shooting into the sky. The underside of the eagle is dark from the start. A lot of time, automatic settings just don't work. And, it's difficult to change settings when something is coming toward you.

In summary, it "ain't" easy. The first photo in this thread which is a still shot was taken with the ISO set at 200, aperture priority set at f/8 and shutter speed came in at 1/80 of a second, on a tripod.

Stafford County, VA

Hi Linth

Just found this thread and to say the least, it blows me away.

I have seen pictures of eagles shot in Alaska, Canada and in other distant places, but to think these are right here in the east, well, it makes me want to drive up there just to see them live. I would take my camera but I can't imagine getting a shot as nice as yours. I have enjoyed looking at each and every one and like everyone else, I look forward to future installments.

We truly are fortunate to have you as a contributor to this forum.

Dave

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh Linth, great series. We usually have three eagles here in the winter (arriving in December, departing in March). I'm excited for their arrival this year to see if I can photograph them. Thanks for the tips!

Dave, you should go! It would be interesting to hear how it was to try and shoot pictures of larger birds.

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thank you, Dave, for the kind comments. You really do have to make the effort to visit. From now through the end of the year is the best time. Some days are better than others. When they are generating electricity, the eagles tend to become more active. Unfortunately, that's not on a schedule. Many eagles are visible but often out of camera range, even with a long lens. People travel from a lot farther than you. I often speak to repeat visitors from New York and Connecticut.

The owner of the Hydroelectric plant, Exelon Corp., is in the process of constructing a $4M viewing area. The viewing areas are pretty good right now. It's funny when a complete stranger stops by. They see all these 500mm-600mm lenses on tripods and wonder what's going on.

This photo isn't very good but it shows 2 men working on the spillway and there are 4 Bald Eagles sitting close by.

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Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

why are the birds more active when the plant is generating energy?

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Mrs_Ed, hope your eagles arrive soon. The cold weather up north will be pushing more of them southward. Some of our birds our tagged. I heard someone mention the other day that a specific eagle had arrived from upstate New York. And, Dave will do well. He has the equipment and experience.

When the power generators are on, the water below the dam is "churning" and I assume the fish become more active at the surface level. I seem to recall someone saying that it also stuns some of the fish making them easy pickings for the eagles. However, a lot of eagles would sooner steal a fish from another eagle than catch their own.

Here's another photo off in the distance of 4 eagles sitting around ....

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Marlton, NJ

That's a tremendous birding area!

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

This photo I took on Saturday way across the water. There are 7 in this photo but more were sitting in that same area. My lens serves as my binoculars but a lot of "birders" bring spotting scopes rather than cameras.

Pelle, it is a good birding area. There is about a two mile path, heavily traveled, down along the river. Two miles down is one thing but two miles back is another thing. I suppose if you do it leisurely it wouldn't be too bad. One gentleman showed me a photo of a Cerulean Warbler that he took right at the parking lot entrance. What a beautiful bird. I spoke to another small group that came there specifically to possibly view a Peregrine Falcon that hangs out around the dam breast.

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Kelseyville, CA(Zone 8b)

Your shots are spectacular! These beautiful birds are here at our lake year round and I never get tired (but my arms do too) of taking their pictures. Too bad you can't add their calls for those that aren't as fortunate as some of us.

I really think that photo with the guys on the spillway is outstanding. What a great reward for them to be working and watching the eagles at the same time.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Ah, that makes sense about the churning. We have a very small spill way here on our river that keeps the water open.

Beachwood, NJ(Zone 6b)

Beautiful pics, great thread! G,

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, again. Glad you are enjoying them.

This is a photo type that I get a lot of but in this one you can see how important the lighting is. With most, the underside is completely dark. What I need is a powerful flash that will brighten their underside. You can only slow down the shutter speed so far.

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Here's another - underside completely dark. It's okay .... but I want my cake and eat it, too !

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Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

These are all images that I took this past weekend. This appears to be one that I worked on a little bit but then you lose the nice blue sky.

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