When I decided to write a book about photography, I scoured the current offerings on Amazon and other popular sites to see what was available at the time.  There were several options that focused on photographing wildlife and birds in flight, vague enough to capture a wide audience.  I realized that my best course of action to sell more books was to do the same.  But I didn’t want to sell books.  I wanted to write.  And nothing could be more rewarding than writing about a subject that I had immersed myself in for over two decades of my life.  Whether it was a lesson that I had learned that was related to camera settings or techniques that I had used to increase the chance of capturing a powerful photograph of bald eagles, I wanted to share it without being weighed down by the chains of marketing.

The decision was made to focus squarely on bald eagles, my favorite subject to photograph.  Did this decision limit the potential profits down the road?  Probably.  But it also made it a lot more fun to write.  My singular goal was to create a piece of work that would simply allow others who had become enamored with bald eagles to learn how to do it more effectively in less time.  In other words, to learn from the more than 20 years of my successes and failures.

Bald eagle screaming

I have created this blog to provide a short summary of what you can expect to learn from each chapter.  Whether you’re interested in a general how-to when it comes to bald eagle photography or want to take a deep dive into light, shutter speed, aperture and camera equipment, The Photographer’s Guide to Bald Eagles should serve to answer many of your questions.  Get your copy here:

Chapter 1  Why This Book?

The first chapter of the book provides answers to why the book might be relevant for the reader, while explaining the popularity behind photographing bald eagles as a subject.

Chapter 2  Evolution and the Dream Scenario

There is a “dream scenario” that we can chase when it comes to photographing bald eagles and several stages that we must often overcome in order to capture the images that we covet.  Whenever we photograph a new subject, there is a process that we must go through and bald eagles are no different.  I define this scenario based on a few critical factors.

Chapter 3  Light

Aside from “happy accidents”, light is still the most critical ingredient in photography.  The word “photography” itself had its origins in ancient Greece.  The word “photo” actually means “light.”  The latter part of the word “graph,” is defined as “drawing.”  In other words, the word photography means “drawing with light”.  

The chapter is layed out into three segments to help you better understand light as it pertains to photographing bald eagles:  direction, quality and intensity.

Chapter 4  Measuring Light

The most critical ingredient (light) is nothing without the ability to control it.  Measuring Light starts by taking a look back at the recent history of light meters while defining common terms such as f-stops, ISO and shutter speed.

Chapter 5  Putting it All Together

Understanding the terms shutter speed, ISO and aperture are a great start.  But putting them into practice is like giving yourself three powerful “levers” from which to control your results.  The exposure triangle is introduced as well as a few scenarios from the field.

Bald Eagle Perched

Chapter 6  Exposure Settings

As if shutter speed, aperture and ISO weren’t hard enough to understand on their own, bald eagles create unique challenges when it comes to choosing your camera’s exposure settings.  I discuss common metering modes and discuss six tips to nail exposure.

Chapter 7  Sharpness & Focus

Although bald eagles aren’t the fastest bird on the planet, they used every part of their body to change direction, making them a challenging subject to photograph.  More often than not, when a photographer fails to capture an image, it’s because the focus is off.  I share my preferences for the many autofocus settings while sharing 10 tips about the subject.

Chapter 8  Equipment

I’m not one to claim that your camera doesn’t make a difference or that it’s the photographer and only the photographer that matters.  When it comes to photographing bald eagles, dynamic range matters.  Focusing speed matters.  Frames per second matter.  That said, there can be a point of diminishing returns.  Teleconverters, sensors, tripods and several other equipment related subjects are discussed in chapter eight.

Homer Alaska Bald Eagle Photography

Chapter 9  Composition & Image Selection

You don’t often get a second chance to photograph a bald eagle.  Learning how to pre-visualize your results can be the difference between a great photograph and one destined for the recycle bin.  In Chapter 9, Composition & Image Selection, I cover the need to make decisions about your bald eagle photography long before packing your camera.

Chapter 10  The Role of Weather

Mother Nature can determine everything from the direction of the eagle’s flight path to their decision to leave the forest in the first place.  Gaining an understanding of the role that weather can play and planning your shooting schedule accordingly can significantly impact your results.  Chapter 10 is dedicated to getting you set up in the right spot, while helping you to avoid frustration.

Chapter 11  Bald Eagle Behavior

Understanding the behavior of a wild subject is an essential part of successfully capturing images of them.  In Chapter 11, Bald Eagle Behavior, I cover seven topics that should help explain why bald eagles do what bald eagles do.

Chapter 12  My Favorite Locations

Pack your bags and get ready to learn about some of the best locations to photograph bald eagles.  Depending on the outcome that you seek, each location has its strengths and weaknesses.  I take a deep dive into the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines Alaska, the winter bald eagle migration to Iowa and review the opportunities at Homer, Alaska.  Each location is rated on a scale from 1 to 10.  Whether it’s flight shots, fishing shots, portraits, landscapes or bald eagles fighting, you’ll have the opportunity to review each location long before booking your flight.

Chapter 13  Transitioning from Stills to Video

Camera manufacturers have done us a huge favor by adding high-quality video recording capability to our DSLRs.  If the right techniques are used, the footage they can produce can be incredible!  But making the transition from capturing stills to capturing video can make for a steep climb.  In Chapter 13, Transitioning from Stills to Video, I share 10 tips to capturing successful video footage of bald eagles.

Whether you are looking for an in-depth how-to related to photographing bald eagles or simply want to learn more about camera settings like shutter speed and aperture, The Photographer’s Guide to Bald Eagles can help shed some light on several topics when it comes to photographing our nation’s bird.

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