I’ve spent the last two weeks photographing in the Prince William Sound region with a primary focus on the birds migrating through the area at this time of year. Eight days were spent on the MV Discovery, owned by Dean Rand of Discovery Voyages. I met Dean while working on the Exxon Valdez Oil spill and since then, have been on many voyages with him. I’m indebted to his tremendous generosity, as much of my imagery from Prince William Sound was taken during trips with him. His website is worth a visit.
This bald eagle was perched on a floating iceberg that calved off the Columbia glacier. The shot was taken from the bow, hand held, in AI servo auto focus mode. You are never really sure how close you can approach in these instances, so I had a lot of magnification (700mm). As we got closer, I realized that I had too much power, but did not want to risk removing my teleconverter for fears that I’d miss the lift off shot in the process. As the second image reveals, being at 500mm would have been perfect.
There is a lot going in a shot like this. The boat is moving, the iceberg is moving, and the bird is moving. Hand holding a 700mm in a stable position, at least for me, makes it difficult to accurately try to manual focus–which is a challenge in its own right. So, I tried to pick a focus point that was compositionally acceptable. Tracking the bird then becomes more about auto focus accuracy than composition–the unfortunate downside of auto-focus. Additionally, the wings of a bald eagle are huge, and this becomes very apparent when it goes from a sitting position to a full wing spread. I set my exposure manually so it would not be thrown off by the bright white of the ice or darkness of the bird. Boy would I like another chance at that shot!