So, yes- I've become a bit of a bird watcher. But not just any bird. I watch THE BIRD: The American Bald Eagle.
And thank God they've made a huge comeback in New England. They were never around when I was growing up, so seeing them now is a huge thrill for me.
I've photographed them in NH and Maine, in places like Alton, New Durham, Dover, Somersworth, Kittery, South Berwick, and York. And in Massachusettes in Amesbury. It's amazing that once you see them - then you find yourself looking for them. And once you look, you WILL find them.
From a photography perspective, they can be a real challenge to shoot while they're flying. The can twist and turn on a dime, and at very high speeds - which makes following them with a zoom lens difficult. So - you practice. And that's what I do when I watch them.
Some of these shots were taken about 200 yards away, so it takes practice to get them framed and in focus flying at that distance. But it's worth it. When you get the shot- it's a pretty cool feeling!
The keys to photographing them?
1. Once you locate them, never take your eye off them - THROUGH THE VIEWFINDER. Look away for one moment, and you'll miss them leaping from the branch and flying. Look over at your buddy to say something - and bam - you miss the shot.
2. Make sure your settings (shutter speed, ISO, and f stops) are all ready to go - even before you get to the location. I shoot a few test shots before I arrive because I've seen them as I was driving, and have pulled over to shoot them within seconds. Having taken a few test shots ahead of time will hopefully insure you're shots will be pretty close to being right.
3. Use a tripod. I shot these with a 600 mm lens, and when you zoom in that much - movement of 1/4 of an inch on the camera end with change what you see in the lens by 10 ft or more. A tripod gives you the stability. Hand held shots zoomed in that much are rarely in focus. It can happen - but it's rare.
4. And most importantly, don't ever disturb the birds (or any wildlife you're photographing). Keep a respectful distance and don't try to influence their behavior. You're in their house, not the other way around.