Bald Eagle water strike, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D4 with AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II + Nikon TC-14E II1.4x TC, 1/1600 sec, f/4.0 ISO 500 in Manual mode with Auto ISO with +.7 compensation, handheld.
Spring 2012 Eagle Tour Series Wrap Up
It was a pleasure to be able to share my favorite eagle photography areas with my tour participants (and colleagues) that joined me in Alaska this year. The reliable numbers of eagles, good weather and the layers of snow everywhere made the photography opportunities ridiculously good. There are photography locations on the planet that just seem to get better and better each year. The tour locations in Alaska are the best on the planet for eagle photography and this spring was better than ever.
A few days before the tour series began I met up with colleagues Alan Murphy, Scott Elowitz, and Brutus Ostling for early pre-tour scouting and shooting. On the first day out together I was pleasantly surprised by the thick blanket of snow on the ground and the great weather but what was even more satisfying was to see the look on Brutus's face after the first hour of shooting, he seemed to be at a loss for words. Alan was so impressed that we are making plans to offer a special tour series next year to cover both eagles and song birds.
Eagle a moment before touch down, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D700 and Sigma 50-500mm APO OS HSM, 1/1600 sec, f/8.0 ISO 1000 in Manual mode with Auto ISO zero compensation, handheld.
The weather in this area during this period is usually constantly changing and can be challenging and this year was no different. We had sun, clouds, stormy skies, snow, overcast, and hazy sun conditions cycling every couple of days. The only thing that was consistent was how inaccurate the weather forecasts are. The typical forecast of snow and rain usually turned out to be cloudy bright or partly sunny.
Bald Eagle banking against storm clouds, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D700 and Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS APO HSM + Sigma 1.4X, 1/2000 sec, f/4.0 ISO 400 in Manual mode with Auto ISO +.7 compensation, handheld.
We saw a big range of new equipment this year, 3 new Nikon D4 bodies, a new EOS-1DX, 2 new EOS 5D MKIIIs, a couple of the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS lenses, 500s, 800s, a lytro camera and even a phase one back. My gear list included Nikon D4, D3, D700 and D300s bodies with AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR, Sigma 50-500mm APO OS HSM, Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS APO HSM lens, and both Nikon and Sigma TCs.
As usual the range of 70-200mm with and without 1.4x and 300mm prime lenses worked very well for action photography and 500mm or longer for perched images. In good light one of my favorite lenses here continues to be the 50-500 for the huge flexible zoom range and close up capability.
The Nikon D4 and Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 were both new for me and I will be posting a field review of each soon. The D4 is amazingly responsive and quick, the focus acquisition is great even with a cluttered background. The control layout changes found on the D4 were difficult to get used and some slowed the camera down in the field. The 120-300 surprised me with sharpness and AF speed but the weight can make fatigue a problem during long hand-holding photography sessions. I had a chance to try the EOS 5DMKIII and EOS-1DX and both impressed me with AF performance. The EOS-1DX balanced really well with the new Canon Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II.
Bald Eagle banking against storm clouds, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D4 and Sigma 50-500mm APO OS HSM, 1/1600 sec, f/16.0 ISO 400 in Manual mode with Auto ISO -2.0 compensation, handheld.
During this series we used reliable areas and had time to try a couple of new locations. Thanks to the mild weather we had a great ratio of action, static, land, and boat-based photography. The eagles are and always have been very tame but this year we had a young eagle that blew everyone away with its totally fearless behavoir.
Steve and his eagle, Kachemak Bay Alaska.
We have special access to permit only areas accessible only by boat that offer almost unlimited photography opportunities. The type of images possible are only limited by your creativity.
Eagle, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D4 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR+ Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x TC, 1/500 sec, f/5.6 ISO 320 in Manual mode with Auto ISO +2/3 compensation, handheld.
Bald Eagle blasting off, Kachemak Bay Alaska. Nikon D700 and Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS APO HSM @ 300mm, 1/2000 sec, f/4.0 ISO 400 in Manual mode with Auto ISO +1.0 compensation, handheld.
Spaces are available for my November tour so contact me now if you would like to join me don't hesitate, you won't be disappointed. More info: http://www.robertotoole.com/workshop/bald-eagles/
2013 tour details should be available in a few days. If you are interested email me to be place on an interest list.
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