Working a Scene, Working on an Image
Every now and then nature photographers have an opportunity to shoot as many pictures as needed to capture the essence of a scene. Such was the case today when I drove past a tree hosting four juvenile bald eagles. Normally the birds would have taken flight as soon as I stopped my truck, but not today. Three of the four birds remained on perch while one moved around from branch to branch, but stayed in the dead tree. Since I did not know the birds would stay perched, I shot my first photo very quickly. Had all of the eagles taken flight, I would have been satisfied with this image.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – image #1:
Almost as soon as I shot the first image I adjusted the angle of my camera to record a picture of another eagle sitting higher on a branch in the dead tree. Like the first image, this is nothing special, but does make a permanent file of what I was seeing.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #2
As I shot the first two images and the birds did not move, I began to realize none of the eagles exhibited characteristics of preparing to flee. In fact, the first eagle I photographed began to vocalize to the eagle moving around above it. Having the eagle squawking with my lens pointed at it meant I needed to press the shutter release button to capture the moment of the eagle with its beak open.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #3 (vocalizing):
When the noisy bird went quiet and turned its head to the right, I thought the composition had improved slightly and recorded another image.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #4:
I kept my eyes open while focusing on the closest bird. Since the other three were still in the tree, I shot a picture. This image is nothing more than documentation of their presence.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #5 (Three of the four eagles):
By now I was assuming the birds would stay perched and I started waiting for specific positioning. In this case I wanted an image of the eagle with its head turned to the left. When the bird’s head rotated, I recorded another photo.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #6:
After shooting this version I decided it might be safe for me to move a little to gain a slightly different perspective. By moving forward I was provided with a different view of the juvenile bird. While the bird was recorded, so too was the clutter from branches on its right and blotchy light behind it.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #7
I was getting closer to a better image, but still was not satisfied. Once again I moved the truck ahead a few feet to eliminate the view of the spindly branches encroaching on the young eagle. In this photograph the woody distractions were removed, but the light peaking through the background still seemed distracting.
Juvenile Bald Eagle – Image #8:
Finally, I moved the truck even further (still only for a total of a few feet to gain the perspective I was looking for). I was able to record a composition of the juvenile bald eagle without distractions from branches or background light. It took some time and moving around, but I was able to create the image I had hoped to leave with.
Juvenile Bald Eagle in Dead Tree – Image #9: