I've tried photographing eagles and other birds before, and let's just say that the results I got were not worthy of sharing...
Bird photography is a tough exercise; much tougher than setting up my gear to photograph landscapes, that's for sure!
But PhotographyTalk member Rob Daugherty has mastered the art of photographing birds, and his images throughout this article are a testament to that.
Eagles, in particular, can be tough to photograph because they can be a little hard to find. If you know when and where to look, though, you can increase your chances of creating images that highlight what eagles represent - power, strength, courage, and freedom.
Of course, when birds are in flight, you have the added pressure of trying to get the focus right, the framing and composition spot-on, and so forth.
But as you can see in the image above, when you get everything just right, spectacular photos of eagles can be had!
I had a chance to chat with Rob the other day and ask him a few questions about how to photograph eagles. I've included our Q&A below as a means of helping you learn a little bit about how you can capture better photographs of eagles.
Alex: What is the best time of year to photograph eagles?
Rob: It depends on the area you live in. In northern Utah where I live and in the rest of the lower 48 states, late December-March is the prime time. In Alaska, though, you can photograph eagles year-round. You can most easily find eagles to photograph along bear rivers and lakes where they can fish.
Alex: What is your number one tip for photographing eagles?
Rob: Be patient, relax, and enjoy them. If you aren't comfortable photographing birds in flight, practice on seagulls or similar birds first.
Alex: What sort of camera gear do you use?
Alex: What are some must-have items in your camera bag?
Rob: On my day-to-day trips, I don't use a camera bag, and instead use a photography vest from my company The Vest Guy. With a built-in camera sling system, I always have the camera ready and I have immediate access to extra batteries, memory cards, filters, and anything else I might need.
Alex: When framing up your shots of these birds, what's going through your head?
Rob: I pre-visualize all my shots, always looking ahead to what's next - what is the bird or animal going to do next? I try to anticipate their behavior, and always leave room in my shots for birds to fly so it's never flying out of the frame.
Alex: What is your all-time favorite eagle shot and why?
Rob: My favorite eagle shot is one I took in Alaska (shown below). I waited for 45 minutes standing in a boat as the eagle finished eating a salmon. He took off and I was able to capture the best eagle photo I have ever taken.
I have to say that I'm a huge fan of Rob's photo above (well, all of them, actually!). Notice how in this shot that the eagle is in absolutely perfect focus. Its eye is clear and bright, which immediately draws your attention. The shape and texture of its feathers add beautiful visual interest to the shot as well. Patience really does pay off!
It's worth mentioning that Rob isn't just a great photographer and workshop leader, but he's also the founder of The Vest Guy.
I bring this up because I just got my vest in the mail the other day.
I have to be honest - I was one of those people that was hesitant to ditch my camera bag for a photography vest. But within a few minutes of unboxing my Colorado Photography Vest, it became clear to me that it's a change I should have made years ago.
I'm floored by its functionality and the comfort level it offers, and I can't wait to field test this bad boy. Stay tuned for a thorough review coming from me in the coming weeks!