Putting a Bow on the 2022-2023 Eagle Season!

All good things must come to an end – and it’s time to ‘put a bow,’ signaling the end of the 2022-2023 Eagle season – for me, at least. Since we returned from our trip, we’ve seen many Eagles in the Carson Valley but lately there have been few the last week or so. The nearby area outside the Valley has had no Eagles in the last few weeks so, for me, Eagle Season is over. It’s okay, with the weather warming up a bit we have lots of other projects around to occupy my time. And I’m still processing image files from the trip.

2022 was my best Eagle year ever! While I’ve taken some great pictures in past years, I got more great Eagle shots in 2022 than any time before. As you saw in one of my ‘Be There’ posts, my Eagle year continued while I was in Wyoming. Here’s a couple more Carson Valley area shots from 2022.

On my final run around the Valley and nearby areas, I hadn’t been having any luck finding subjects to photograph. As I was turning around to head for home, this beautiful creature flew up (from the direction I had come) and landed in this snow covered tree as if to say ‘…well, you ignored me before so here I am now – take my picture!’
I love it when I’m ready when the fun starts. He lifted off while I was shooting portraits.

With an incredible finish to 2022, I was excited to return home and get out to see what 2023 would bring. Sadly, my lovely bride and I both got a crud on the way home, so we stayed very close to home for a couple weeks after our return. When we were able to get out, we found lots of subjects. Most, however, were fairly far away – even for my Canon RF 800 f/11 lens. An 800 mm focal length really brings those far away subjects up close. When combined with the 45 MP sensor on my Canon EOS R5 camera body, I have lots of data to work with when editing images. My greatest challenge is getting good focus on far away subjects. That’s not the fault of the equipment, rather, it’s the limitations of the photographer’s skills. We all have our limitations. Thankfully, I found the Topaz Denoise and Sharpen software, which can rescue some of my poorly shot image files.

Here’s the stuff from 2023! All in the Carson Valley.

There were two hot zones for Eagles in 2023. This is a fence line west of SR 88 between Mottsville Lane and Centerville Lane. When I saw pictures from one of my friends in this area, my ‘crud-addled’ brain couldn’t identify the fence. Of course, I wasn’t remembering that long focal lengths will cause the depth of field to compress, giving what we see every day a different look as a picture. One cannot forget the physics of capturing light!
It doesn’t get any better than this – well, maybe if they were a little closer! This tree at the west end of Cornforth Lane was a popular place to find Eagles.
Same fence, different angle! There were so many Eagles that they almost needed air traffic controllers!

A second hot zone was on Old Foothill Road, just south of the state line.

The only Eagle I was able to get up close in the Valley this year. I don’t stop for Raptors on utility poles very often, but I couldn’t pass this one by. I was kneeling in the snow, getting as low as I could, to keep the wire from obscuring that beautiful face.
For some reason, this tree was a popular stop for the Eagles this year. I made this image in a snow storm. When I stopped and got out of the car, a third Eagle flew off. Wouldn’t this picture have been really great with another Eagle?
Same tree as above, but on this day we had the best light we’d seen at this location. (Except for the snowy day, most of the images here were so backlit that the Eagles are shadows). I was excited to get some detail and color for a change.
Although I focus (pun intended) on Eagles from November to February every winter, the Raptor migration includes Hawks. I’m very selective about my Hawk images. No utility poles! I like my Hawks on a fence post at eye level. This Red Tail was on a utility wire and I felt something, so I started shooting. A few frames in he lifted off and hit the snow – coming up with this apparently tasty morsel. This is one of the many image files I have of this meal time.

And that’s it for my 2022-2023 Eagle Season! I’ll still have my cameras out and about and may bump into something, but I won’t be actively looking for Eagles for the next 10 months or so. Stay tuned for the rest of the ‘Be There’ series because there’s lots more to come (Bison and Big Horns and Elk – oh my!)! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

The ’22-’23 Eagle Season is Underway!

Well, the Eagles and the Photography Gods have been very good to me in this young Eagle Season! I started heading to my regular area in early November and was not disappointed. I have not come up empty for Eagles this year (knock on wood!). I don’t always get pictures, but I see them. This Season has also provided some bonus pictures. Read on!

I have been most fortunate with my action shots this Season. I’ve had my camera up and ready when they take off!

I amazed myself with this one! I haven’t had luck in the past ‘getting glass on’ a flying subject, much less getting a usable image.

One of the greatest challenges with Eagles is getting proper exposure, especially in full sun. Their bodies are dark brown and their heads are white (I know, that’s obvious!), so how does one get an exposure that works? Well, I generally underexpose the keep the head from being ‘blown out’ (meaning totally white with no detail and no recoverable data) because software is much better at recovering detail in the shadows (darker areas of an image). The key is to watch the histogram while shooting to ensure that there will be usable data.

This guy was out on a blustery day. Note the feathers being moved around by the wind. He doesn’t look happy, but Eagles always look like that. They’re just serious.

I can’t help but think about vampires when I look at this picture. But I know he doesn’t want to drink my blood!

Another thing that amazes me about Eagles is the position of their wings in flight. A fully mature Eagle’s wingspan extends over 6 feet – wider than most people are tall! And yet, they are so graceful in flight.

While this Eagle appears to be out of control, he was just taking flight.

Here’s the bonus content!

Kingfishers are small and fast, and very camera shy! I saw this guy across the river and was able to capture him in pixels before he took flight!

When I’m in the ‘hot zone’ in the area I look for Eagles, I usually drive at about 10-20 mph (but I keep an eye on my mirrors to ensure I’m not blocking traffic). I call this ‘slow rolling.’ While slow rolling one day, this shy guy was on the road and quickly jumped into the brush. I was able to get this image before he disappeared.

And the ultimate bonus prize this year was this youngster. I was slow rolling around a corner and there he was in the middle of the road. He looked up and saw me, and bounded up the hill! I quickly parked and got out of the F-150 to see if he would be visible, and there he was up the hill. My RF 800 lens used every millimeter of focal length to get this image.

And so, I’m off to a good start this year. I have a bunch of pictures of Eagles sitting in the trees, but I wanted to share the action shots. Stay tuned – there will be more in the coming weeks!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

2021-2022 Eagle Season – The Finale!

This winter’s Eagle season did not disappoint (for me anyway)! I had a wonderful couple months looking for and finding Eagles in our area. I can tell that things are winding down when I bring home more image files of other critters than Eagles. So, I’m done actively looking for Eagles this season, but I’ll still be watching for them.

This is my favorite image from the valley floor this year. I rolled up on three juvenile Bald Eagles eating something in a field. The Raptor on the left is approaching full maturity (almost 5 years old) and the one on the right is maybe 3-4 years old.
This handsome specimen posed nicely for me for some time…
…as one can tell by the different position of the branches…
…and colors in the background.
I ama big fan of Eagles in Pine trees. This image has great light, so the Photo Gods were smiling on me.
The trees in this area had burned several years ago so the background is a bit different.
Sometimes, I get lucky and the subject does something a little unusual. No, he’s not giving thanks! He’s actually doing a little preening.
My lovely bride and I went out looking for Eagles, but all we found was this Blue Heron at the Dangberg Ranch.
Another day, the Eagles hid successfully, but we found a herd of Deer on Old Foothill Road just south of the state line. This image is the best of all that I shot, as trying to focus on antlers sticking up from the sage brush didn’t work for me that day.

Well, nothing against other wildlife, but Eagle Season is about the Eagles and the other stuff is just not the same. And so, it’s shifting to targets of opportunity while filling the days until I head to Ely NV and the Nevada Northern Railway’s Winter Photo Workshop in a few weeks. Enjoy – and stay tuned – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part II…

After our wonderful experience in Twin Falls, we ventured north to Yellowstone National Park. As we traveled, we saw in the distance the west side of the Grand Tetons. We entered Yellowstone through the west entrance and experienced our first ‘Bison Jam’ a couple miles in. A herd was crossing the Madison River and we were at the head of the line. I was unprepared, but was able to grab a couple shots. Here’s one of a youngster just out of the river.

As we continued into the Park, we were awed by the beautiful scenery and by the shear number of Bison. We stopped several times to marvel at where we were. At one stop, I watched a Bison in a river in the distance. I grabbed a few shots from far away and, as I was shooting, he came out of the water and started walking across the meadow. I moved down the slope to the meadow and continued shooting. He crossed a second stream and started walking in our direction. I grabbed a few more shots and hustled up the slope.

By the time I got back in the truck, my lovely bride was taking pictures of him where I had been standing just a few moments before. He walked parallel to us for a bit and we moved on. We were due at Susan’s brother’s house for dinner, so the rest of the drive through the Park was uneventful.

The next day, we headed into Cody and a trip to the Buffalo Bill Museum.

It’s been 40 years since I was in Cody and it did not disappoint. The portion of the Museum formerly known as the Winchester Collection was being remodeled, so we weren’t able to see much of those displays. The rest of the Museum, however, was incredible. We really enjoyed the several hours we spent there.

We had a bite of lunch in the Museum and then caught the Raptor Show. They had a Red Tailed Hawk and a Screech Owl on display. Neither was allowed to fly, but I had brought the big camera in and I got a few pictures. Here’s the Screech Owl – a real cutie!

We encourage you to visit Cody and see the Buffalo Bill Museum. The gun collection is opening this month.

Until next time – enjoy! PHOTOROGR

Raptor portraits continued more…

When I look at these images, I marvel at the ways these Raptors pose like people…or maybe people pose like Raptors! What an interesting discussion topic.

Every now and then, a Raptor will sit in one place and just look around, providing an opportunity for a series of images.

And then you get the single shot of that Raptor…looking very regal.¬† They are beautiful creatures!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Raptor Portraits continued…

In early February, I introduced my series of Raptor Portraits. I had intended to post more portraits sooner, but I made my post about those ‘special moments’ and then ran away to a soon to be disclosed location for a little photography and education. So, here we are finally – getting more Raptor Portraits.

In today’s group, there are a couple that remind me of classic poses in a high school yearbook. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Special Moments…

Wildlife photographers live for those special moments when they record something special. Those moments are few and very far between, and must be cherished when they occur.

Today, I had one of those special moments. I was out looking for eagles and not finding any, so I decided to head to the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park. Many of my friends had been having success there. As I approached the house, I saw an eagle in the tree on the east end of the Park. I parked and quickly grabbed a few shots  Рmaybe 33 or 34 Рof him sitting when he started to flex his wings. Thankfully I had my camera up and shooting when he took off. Even better, he flew straight toward me! When I downloaded the images, I saw he was looking right at me as he took flight.

I’ve probably used all my special moments for the year and should possibly retire from photography, but I won’t. Oh yeah, you can buy one of these prints.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Raptor Portraits

A couple months ago, I posted a close crop image of a Raptor on Facebook and got lots of positive feedback. I was motivated to look at my image library in search of other Raptor shots that could be close cropped, and I found quite a few. A new journey began!

Here’s the first batch I want to share. Some are old and some are new. I hope you like them.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR