Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : You're Dead

Squamish Bald Eagles (Again)

This was my third time in Squamish to shoot Bald Eagles, and it will likely become an annual excursion.  Not only do I love Squamish and Brackendale, it is a great opportunity to practice wildlife photography with a photogenic subject.  Unlike my previous trip to the area when I visited in January, this time I came when the eagle concentrations were much higher.   There were several occasions when I saw up to eight eagles all trying to get one or two dead salmon, unsurprisingly some fights broke out.

As I was heading to a new location to begin my search for eagles, I saw an interesting log pincer thingy (correct name) and had to stop.  I managed to get a shot with my wide angle that included the Stawamus Chief in the background.

(As always, click to view larger.  You can also just scroll through all of the photos in a slideshow)

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 14-24 : The Chief and Logging

Getting to the beach at the south end of Squamish was more fun than expected due to deep snow.  Once I arrived, there were no eagles to be seen but I did brave the elements to get this long exposure shot before I packed up and went searching for the elusive birds.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 24-70 : Beach Long Exposure

First stop was near the SPCA.  Mount Garibaldi was looking majestic as usual so a quick shot was necessary.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Telephoto Landscape

I did find a single juvenile bald eagle

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile In Tree

Pretty sure he saw me.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile In Tree Close

Also came across a Great Blue Heron

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Great Blue Heron 3

Plenty of crows, which I used to practice my focus tracking for flying birds.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Crow in Flight

A gang of seagulls.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Gang

A few shy ducks.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Ducks Flying

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Ducks in Flight

This is the reason the eagles are here in high concentrations, plenty of dead or dying salmon to eat.  Other bird species also enjoy the annual feast.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Crows Eating Salmon

Finally, in the most popular spot there were plenty of eagles.  These were all found off Government Road near the Watershed Grill restaurant.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Three Amigos

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Raptor on the Wing

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Majestic

This one looking like he has found something interesting.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Pounce

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Flight Blue Sky

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Tree Close

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Tree

As I said previously, fights were not uncommon though rarely seemed to result in any real damage.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack Vector

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Smash

I shot a LOT of photos to only get  a few worth keeping.  Not an easy subject to photograph.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Flight 1

The seagulls don't stick around to ask questions when they see the eagles coming in.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Chase

Another fight sequence.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack Sequence 1

This guy wanted to make sure the young eagle knew who the boss was.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Arial Attack

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : You're Dead

And a few more shots.  It certainly won't be my last time visiting the area.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile Attack

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Dual Landing

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack

 

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Nope Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle Sitting

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle Walking

 

 

 

 

 


Brackendale Bald Eagle in Flight : Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR Lens

Squamish Bald Eagles

I was eager to try out my new Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 VR lens that I received for Christmas from my lovely wife.  I knew that Bald Eagles were likely still in Squamish as I had been there previously.  I ventured out one very old morning to see what I could capture.

The sun was rising as I pulled into Squamish and I noticed it was illuminating Mount Garibaldi.  I decided to see how the lens performs for a long distance landscape shot.  Nice detail despite the distance.

The rig

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Shot with iPhone

The shotSquamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Mount Garibaldi Sunrise

I then walked around one of my favorite spots in south Squamish and did encounter a few eagles.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Flying High

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle and Crow Buddies

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Squawk

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Tree

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle In Tree Black and White

One thing I realized is that I have a lot to learn about wildlife photography, especially birds. Learning how to use a telephoto lens has a fairly steep learning curve, and trying to capture birds in flight makes it even harder.  I took a lot of shots but only have a few keepers and even those I'm only mildly satisfied with.  Having said that, the combination certainly does help in comparison to shooting with my iPhone.

Eagle shot with iPhone

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : iPhone Eagle Shot

Same eagle with a Nikon D810 and Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR lens.  Anyone claiming "gear doesn't matter" hasn't tried to shoot wild eagles.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle Playing Rooster In Tree

I relocated several times but had a hard time finding eagles.  I found out later that there are much higher concentrations of eagles in early December and by January they have started to depart as most of the salmon that they are feeding on are gone.  It was still a beautiful day so I made the most of it by shooting some landscape shots.  Even some with my iPhone.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : iPhone Landscape

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 14-24 : Sunrise in Squamish

My trusty Tacoma, it never disappoints.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 14-24 : Toyota Tacoma Glory

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 14-24 : Frozen Landscape

This was actually a hand-held shot with the Nikkor 200-500 lens.  Shutter speed was relatively long but the VR system helped me get an acceptably sharp shot.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Telephoto Landscape Long Exposure

After more driving around and looking in a few spots I have never visited before I did find a few more eagles.  Didn't get the focus or composition right in all of the photos, but I did get a lot of practice in tracking eagles in flight.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : I See Something

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Surveying the Land

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Going Somewhere

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Just Missed Flight Shot

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eye on Me

Finally, a comparison of iPhone vs Nikon.  See that moon in the top right?

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : iPhone Landscape

Now a little closer with the telephoto.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-01-02 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Moon Landscape


Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 6

Birds At Acadia Beach in Vancouver, BC

Took a short walk with my dogs on Acadia Beach today.  The best time for birds, especially Great Blue Herons, seems to be on the rising tide early in the morning.  The Herons like to walk around in the shallow water and pick off smelt and other small fish who are too dumb to notice a three foot tall bird.

I didn't get any stellar shots today but did see a Bald Eagle, a few Great Blue Herons, Geese, and a few of the usual suspects as well.   Overall, a fun day and always nice when an eagle is around.  The birds were quite far away so these are crops from much bigger images shot with the Nikon D800 and 80-200 f/2.8D lens.  In cases like this, a longer lens would sure be nice.  If an updated 80-400mm VR becomes available I may be tempted to sell the current zoom and go for the bigger reach.  Teleconverters do not work with the 80-200.  There was also a strong backlight so I had to dial up the shadow recovery introducing some noise.

I definitely got some better shots when I went to Brackendale to shoot the Bald Eagles with a borrowed 400mm f/2.8.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 5

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 4

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 1

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 3

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 6

 

Impressive talons on this guy, wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of those.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 7

 

The geese didn't seem to care that a top predator was in the area.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Geese

 

The heron also went about his business catching fish.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Great Blue Heron
I even managed to catch a crow in flight.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Crow Landing

 

The image above was rescued from a very underexposed shot.  The screenshot below shows the impressive dynamic range of the Nikon D800 which allowed me to recover the shadows and save the image, if only for web use.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Nikon D800 Shadow Recovery In Lightroom 4

 


Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Bald Eagle Photography in Brackendale

I took a trip with my friend Andrew to Brackendale to find some Bald Eagles.  The eagles were not hard to find, but certainly not easy to photograph.  Most of the time they were quite far away, but occasionally they would fly by a little closer.  The eagles gather here to eat Coho Salmon that have died after spawning.  I guess eagles are lazy, and prefer to let dinner float by rather than waste energy catching it.

I borrowed a huge 400mm f/2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter from my boss, which was a huge help and allowed to me to get some good shots.  I wouldn't say any of the shots from the day were excellent, there was heavy cloud cover and relatively low light which meant a lot of the shots were at ISO 400 or even 800.   Add to that slower shutter speeds, and a lot of the shots just didn't turn out very well.  Considering this was my first time at this location, the first time shooting the 400mm, and the first time on a dedicated trip to shoot eagles I think I did ok.

Aside from the eagles, we were treated to a few nice views during the day.  Both shot with the 400mm, the darker blue image is a 3-shot HDR.

Portfolio Brackendale Mountains

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

These are some of my favorite shots from the day.  First, a juvenile eagle was flying towards me and about to land in a tree.  Of the 5 shots I got of him, this is the only one worth posting. (In case it's not obvious, you can click the photos to view the bigger version).

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Another flight photo, this one I attempted to pan the 400mm to get some shots, most were blurry or had only a part of the eagle in the frame.  This one turned out better than I thought it would.

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Sometimes, eagles are not the graceful and majestic creatures we think they are. When you have to go you have to go.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Some shots of the equipment used.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

The following photos are not great, but I thought I'd include them as they capture a flight sequence and my attempt at capturing the eagles in flight.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And more, not good due to slow shutter speeds, but capture a moment when an eagle swoops in to steal the salmon away from the others.  Incoming!

 

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And the rest of the images from the shoot worth posting.  They include a Great Blue Heron, which often go ignored when the eagles are there but they are no less interesting nor any less beautiful.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Great Blue Heron Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip


Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Brackendale, Sneak Peek

I took a trip with my friend Andrew to Brackendale today to find some Bald Eagles.  The eagles were not hard to find, but certainly not easy to photograph.  Most of the time they were quite far away, and occasionally they would fly by a little closer.  I borrowed a big 400mm f/2.8 lens from my boss, which was a huge help but a monster to try and pan as an eagles did a fly by.  Too tired to process photos today, but here are two from the trip.  More to come soon. another When we first showed up at the main viewing area, the eagles were far away but this fellow was close and didn't mind posing for a photo.  It's a Great Blue Heron, you can see a past photo I took of  a heron here.

Great Blue Heron Brackendale BC Dec 2011

 

I also managed to capture a couple of eagles in flight, this was one of the better shots.  The lens really is huge, so this is no easy task.

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011


Juvenile Bald Eagle In Flight - Brackendale Eagles

Photo: Juvenile Bald Eagle In Brackendale, BC

Photo of a juvenile bald eagle taken in Brackendale, BC.  There are a ton of bald eagles around in the winter months here, they eat the dying salmon who have finished spawning.

Juvenile Bald Eagle In Flight - Brackendale Eagles