Day # 8: Magnificent American Bald Eagle in Flight

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The Photo

Best Nature Photos. Magnificent American Bald Eagle in flight with a Fish in Lock & Dam 14 located near LeClaire, Iowa on the Upper Mississippi River above Davenport River, Iowa and Moline, Illinois, USA. Migratory Birds. National Bird and Animal of America. Nature, Wildlife, Bird, and Landscape Photography by Prathap.

Magnificent American bald eagle in flight taking away a big fish in Lock & Dam 14 located near LeClaire, Iowa on the Upper Mississippi River above Davenport River, Iowa and Moline, Illinois, USA.

Story Behind the Photo

Check out the Day #2 photo of American bald eagle feeding to understand how I ended up in Lock and Dam 14. I don’t want to bore you with the same story 🙂

Photographing American bald eagle in flight is not a tough task as they are not really scared to fly over our head. They just don’t care about the human presence, atleast in Lock & Dam 13 and 14. In one instance, a bald eagle was swooping down so close to me that I got just half of its body in my frame!

I was trying to photograph a bald eagle carrying a fish on its way back to the nearby trees. Getting a good pose in a blue background was tough to achieve. It was cloudy for first two days with many boring photographs with few exceptions.

Last day was a treat with blue skies and patches of thin clouds. It was perfect to get flight shots because it is very easy for focusing system to lock the focus swiftly against a plain background. The contrast between the bird and the background helped to focus viewer’s attention on the bird.

Out of many photographs on that day, this was one which had lot of things that are working together, like:

  • The catchlight in the eye
  • Fantastic spread of the wings
  • Head angle
  • The size of the fish and the claws of the bald eagle
  • Slightly diagonal position of the bird
  • And that background!

Technical Information

Body:  Nikon D7100

Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Focal Length: 300mm

ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400

 Aperture (f-stop): f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/1000 sec

Exposure Compensation: +1 step

Metering Mode: Spot

Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority

Quick Tip

When photography birds in flight, try to give some time for the focusing system to lock and then start firing the burst shots. This will increase your odds against out of focus issues.

Important thing to consider is to wait for the bird to assume a position when there is good enough contrast between the bird and the background and then start clicking.

I hope you enjoyed this photo story. Have a great day ahead!

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4 Responses to Day # 8: Magnificent American Bald Eagle in Flight

  1. Kamal March 5, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    Extremely grateful for your bird photo tips, Prathap. Looking forward.

    • Prathap March 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Kamal.

  2. marc March 8, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    nice c shot prathap…do you use post traitment for publishing like photoshp and ligthroom…do you thing the poistion p..iso 100…give the same image,,,quality.than av…thanks..

    • Prathap March 10, 2015 at 11:51 am #

      Thank you Marc. I do post-process my photographs using both Lightroom and Photoshop. You can learn all my post-processing techniques in my post-processing eBook.

      Av (Aperture Priority) and P (Program) modes are just shooting modes. You would be able to get the same image quality with any shooting mode as long as you know how to handle the parameters.

      ISO-100 is always ideal, but you wouldn’t be able to use it while doing flight photography as you might not get sufficient shutter speed value. You would get clean image with ISO-400 in most of the high-end DSLRs which makes it easier to get good shutter speeds.

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