I think many of you already know this but sometimes photography (and bird photography especially) is a waiting game mixed in with some luck. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but I’ll continue to talk about it because I think people miss the fact that so much of bird photography is just luck. Shooting like crazy, hoping for a moment, and getting lucky every so often to catch one. For example, when I first spotted this juvenile bald eagle, it was sitting in a tree with a poor background.
As you can see there’s some bright sky and manmade structures behind it. But I was able to move around a bit and get a better angle to clean up the background. Right there is a huge tip. Always look to see if moving can get you a better background. And if I wanted a perched photo of the eagle, that would be it.
However, at this point I already had so many perched photos that I wasn’t trying to clog up my cards, drives and workflow with more. So I stopped shooting and waited for the eagle to fly. After 5 minutes, I kept thinking it would be close. 10 minutes came and went. 15… then 20… and FINALLY it jumped. I caught a good action shot of the jump off the branch, but then something happened. The eagle didn’t go in the direction I thought (which would have just been white sky behind it). It turned around and flew in front of a group of darker trees that were pretty far behind the eagle so it stood out from them really nicely. And, it was mostly just soaring in the wind with the wings outstretched which makes for a really nice photo.
As I mentioned earlier, you probably already know that photography requires patience mixed in with some luck. The pros (and really what is a wildlife pro today other than some one who “used” to make a living shooting wildlife and now teaches) don’t go out to a situation like this, know exactly when the eagle will take flight, and take one photo and nail it. EVERYONE who captures great wildlife photos waited for them and sprayed the scene with probably hundreds of photo to find that one gem inside. As I’ve said before… Embrace the chaos 🙂
Gear, Settings and Post Processing
I used my Sony Alpha 1 with the 600mm lens + 1.4 Teleconverter for this one. I had my camera set to AF-C. I was using Zone (Center) Auto Focus to help the camera know where to find the subject and the Bird Eye feature was NOT engaged at the time (it usually isn’t for birds in flight but that wouldn’t matter either way).
I was on Manual Exposure mode at f/5.6, Auto ISO which was at 5000, and 1/4000th sec.
Post processing was done in Lightroom for exposure, cropping, color and toning corrections and a quick trip to Topaz DeNoise AI for some noise reduction. (more on Topaz here)
As always my editing is covered in my Wildlife Editing Secrets Course. Also, you can find links to all of my gear, computers, hard drives, etc… over on the Gear page which can be clicked on in the top menu (or just click here). And it’s always appreciated if you use the links on that page (even if you’re not purchasing that specific item) when buying anything. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it’ll help me out a bit 🙂
And if you want to learn more about actually photographing the birds, check out “Matt’s Guide to Bird Photography”. People absolutely LOVE this course!