In the last year and a half, I’ve been photographing bald eagles, as well as various other wildlife, in several locations throughout Minnesota. COVID-19 in 2020 was certainly a pain, but it also was a mixed blessing. It basically shut down my wedding and portraits business, but at the same time, it gave me the opportunity to just pick up my cameras and just go.
Like many people, bald eagles, have always had a special meaning to me. I cannot describe it very well, but there’s something about the sheer power, grace, and majesty of these birds of prey that I just love to witness (and photograph)! It’s so great to see that they’re making a strong comeback.
Going Back to My Roots
Not everyone knows this, but I actually began my professional photography career as a wildlife photographer back in the 80s. Back then, my wildlife “specialty” was photographing the Common Loon. I would spend many, many days on the water each spring watching and photographing loons in all parts of Minnesota. Back then, I sold my loon prints via word of mouth, and also through the Wild Wings retail stores in the state.
Mind you, this was back in the “film days”. It was relatively easy to go out and shoot 40 to 50 rolls of 36 exposures in a couple of days! The film and processing, in those quantities, was pretty darned expensive too!
The Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Fund
Shortly after I began as a wildlife photographer, I was very fortunate to have one of my loon images selected for The Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program poster. The poster was given away by tax preparers to those who donated to the fund on their state income taxes. The Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program is funded almost entirely through grants and donations and does not receive money from hunting and fishing license sales or state taxes (also known as the general fund).
It was pretty cool to have one of my images selected for the poster. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had a big “kick-off” with a poster signing event up in Duluth, Minnesota. Ah, my celebrity moment! 😉
The Big Change
Then, in the early 90s, we built our studio and camera room and the wedding and portrait business became my main focus. Gone were the days of sneaking away to photograph loons in early spring when they had their chicks (during the wedding season). I do miss photographing loons and hope to schedule some time to do that once again next spring to make that happen. Gotta get the boat in working order first!
Bald Eagles and the Digital Camera
As I mentioned earlier, back in the 80s, going out and exposing, and then processing, 40 to 50 rolls of film wasn’t exactly inexpensive. I had my trusty Minolta XG-M and Minolta X700 camera bodies and a couple of lenses that were ok for wildlife photography. I had a motor drive on those cameras that would allow something like 3 frames per second, which was kind of quick for that era.
Now, in the digital era, of course, there is no “film cost.” It’s really easy (if Mother Nature is cooperative) to go out and come back with several hundred images in just a few hours! A large number of images creates another unforeseen cost, time spent editing.
Yes, one of the advantages to digital is that there’s no film involved, but spending hours, and sometimes even days, editing hundreds or even thousands of images definitely has to be considered as a “cost” as well. There’s also wear and tear on the camera, the shutter, and lenses too. They don’t last forever.
The Big Upgrade
Earlier this year, I retired two Canon 5D Mark III camera bodies that had served us very well at weddings for many years. I kept our two newer Canon 5D Mark IVs as they are still very excellent cameras for weddings, portraits, light painting, and to a lesser extent, wildlife photography.
The upgrade of the 5D III’s was to our first mirrorless cameras. We invested in a Canon R5 and a Canon R6. The R6 is primarily for Joannie to use at weddings, it’s much lighter than the 5D Mark III. And when it’s teamed up with her new RF 24-240mm lens, it also means she never has to change lenses at a wedding. She’s got a wide-angle and telephoto all-in-one lightweight lens!
That being said, the biggest advantage with digital is that I can take a lot of exposures, which allows the capture of a burst of action images when the moment comes. Since wildlife doesn’t pose for you, being able to get many images of a fleeting moment often makes the difference in getting the photo or not getting it. Both the R5 and the R6 mirrorless cameras can take up to 20 images per second!
These mirrorless cameras also have a feature that we’ve never experienced before; eye focus. Yes, both of these cameras will lock onto the eye of the subject nearly all of the time! Pretty cool technology for wedding and portrait photography – and simply amazing for wildlife photography!
Practice Makes Perfect
I had gone to Wabasha, Minnesota a few times in the winter to photograph bald eagles. Each of those excursions was with the Canon 5D Mark IVs as both the R5 and R6 were still on backorder. I did have some pretty good success and some of those bald eagle photos are in the gallery too. Next winter I plan on spending more time with the bald eagles down there.
Many of the bald eagles had left the Wabasha, Minnesota area for the summer once our new two mirrorless cameras arrived (there was a huge waiting list). Once they did arrive, I started getting used to them by going to parks and wetlands in the Twin Cities area to capture wildlife and nature photos. Studio portraits of always moving two-year-olds are a piece of cake compared to a flying bird! So I went at it.
There’s nothing more difficult in photography than capturing sharp, in-focus images of birds in flight! So why not get used to our new cameras on something really challenging? It also gave me some good exercise too! I’d walk up to 8 miles a day just looking around for subjects to practice on.
Bald Eagles in Alaska
Another thing that COVID-19 did was not allow us to use our Disney Vacation Club timeshare. So we had a ton of points accumulated and time was running out. It was down to use them or lose them!
So, we did some research and decided to use them for an amazing trip to Alaska with Adventures By Disney! The July trip was truly fantastic! We saw so many amazing sights, we even saw almost all of Denali. Guess we gotta go back for that one!
Well, bald eagles are much more common, and even somewhat approachable in Alaska than just about anywhere else on the planet. I was able to capture some wonderful bald eagle photographs on the trip! They are available for viewing and/or purchasing using the gallery link below.
Bald Eagle Photographs for Sale
We’ve created a bald eagle photo gallery so that you can enjoy them at your leisure. Please check it out if you’re looking for a cool gift for your loved ones (or yourself). These bald eagle photos will make great Christmas gifts, wonderful birthday presents, or just as a gift to yourself to decorate your home or office!
To be totally transparent, there are a handful of these images that are composited photographs. That means that I took a great image of a bald eagle and placed it in a better background to create an image with more impact. There are not many of them and I doubt that you’ll even be able to tell, (which is the whole point). But I just wanted you to know that up front.
About Our Watermark
Each of the bald eagle pictures in the online gallery has a large watermark across them, your bald eagle gift prints will just have our logo, small in the lower corner.
Bald Eagle Photo Gifts
Our bald eagle gift photographs are available as Metal Prints (our favorite because of how vivid they are), on canvas, or printed on luster paper.
Bald Eagle Metal Prints “float” off the wall about 3/4 of an inch. These images are heat-pressed onto aluminum and come with a high-gloss finish.
Bald Eagle Canvas Prints are wrapped on a wooden frame. Both metal and canvas prints do not require frames, although we can frame them for you as an upgrade. Please contact us to discuss that option.
Finally, there are Bald Eagle photographs printed on luster paper. Any luster paper image larger than 8×10 inches will be mounted on an acid-free mounting board to keep it nice and smooth in a frame.
Below is the link to what will be our always-growing Bald Eagle Photography Gallery. Enjoy the images, and thank you!