Potomac River Eagles

Eagle-with-Eaglets-2Yesterday, I had another opportunity to check on the status of an active eagles nest on the Potomac River. As you can see from the images in this blog article, the two eaglets are well and growing rapidly. If you check my blog article from a few weeks ago, you can see the eaglets when they were newly hatched and covered in soft, downy feathers.

Eagle-Feeding-EagletI timed it right to watch the adult eagle feed a freshly caught fish to the eaglets. In addition to taking photographs, I also shot videos, one of which is below.

Notice that the video ends with “Produced for Protected Places Media.” Protected Places Media (www.protectedplacesmedia.com) is a not-for-profit business formed by my close friend, Ernie Sears, and me to use our passion for nature photography and videography to support non-profit organizations working to conserve our natural world and to positively impact environmental and conservation issues. Protected Places Media also produces a quarterly e-magazine (ezine), CPWToday, in support of the Prince William Conservation Alliance. The ezine can be read at: www.cpwtoday.com Check out CPWToday and subscribe to be alerted when we issue each quarterly ezine.

 

 

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Barred Owls

Barred Owls

It is a cool, pleasant evening in northern Virginia. So, I had the sliding glass door open to the back deck off my office. While working on my computer about 45 minutes ago, I heard a pair of Barred Owls calling in the trees behind my house. It was dark; therefore, I quickly mounted a speedlight (flash) with a Better Beamer (flash extender) on my camera and fired off a few shots. Above and below are a couple of the images that I captured.

Barred-OwlSeeing one of my favorite bird species without having to search for them made my evening very special.

The images were taken on a Nikon D810 with an 80-400mm lens and SB-910 Speedlighjt.

 

Posted in Bird Photographs, Nature, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Bulls Island Sunrise

Bulls-Isalnd-Sunrise

Just a quick article to share an image that I regularly see on my desktop that reminds me of the beautiful sunrise I experienced and photographed a couple weeks ago on Bulls Island on the South Carolina coast. It was very overcast, and my expectations were low, but as you can see, it turned out to be memorable and breathtaking.

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Potomac River Eagles Nest

Eagle-on-Nest

Eagle on Nest

Early Saturday morning, March 26, 2016, my friend, Ernie Sears, and I went to a location along the Potomac River to photograph and video an active American Bald Eagles’ nest. The location of the nest is fortunately not well known, and we would not have found it if it was not recommended to us by a friend, Geoffrey Green. Based on Geoff’s directions, we were easily able to locate the nest, and when we arrived, one of the eagles was sitting on the nest. One of the advantages of this eagles’ nest is that it is located at eye-level, enabling photographing into the nest, instead of shooting from below the nest, which most often is the case.

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Eagle perched above nest, guarding its two eaglets.

After a short while, the eagle flew from the nest and perched on a nearby limb where it could keep a close eye on the nest and the two very young, newly hatched eaglets. While we were there, the other eagle returned, and they switched roles. The other eagle stayed on the nest, while the other one went in search of food, most likely a fish, for their hungry eaglets.

As the eagle waited for its mate to return, I was able to capture an image of the eagle with one of its eaglets. (below image)

Eagle-on-Nest-with-Eaglet

I returned on Sunday, Easter morning, with my wife after church for a brief visit to show her the nest and eagles, and to try a different camera. I am glad that I returned with the different camera. On Saturday, I used my Nikon D810 with a 600mm Nikon lens, but on Sunday I used a Nikon 1 V3 with the 600mm lens. The Nikon 1 V3 has a much smaller sensor with a 2.7 crop factor, and when used on the 600mm lens, it had the equivalent of 1620mm lens providing more reach for the distant nest. The nest is a little more than 290 feet from where I could get a clear shot of it, as seen from the below image. If you look closely, you can see the nest just above the center of the frame.

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Eagles’ nest as seen from my shooting location. (iPhone 6s image)

Below are two images taken with the Nikon 1 V3. On Sunday, the sky was heavily overcast, providing filtered light, which was better light to photograph the eagles. The filtered light eliminated shadows and reduced the difficulty of not capturing detail in the eagle’s brightly lit white feathers.

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Eagle feeding one of its eaglets.

In the second image, the eagle can be seen feeding one of the eaglets. I also videoed the eagles and have several videos of the eagle feeding the two eaglets. I will post the videos tomorrow in another article.

I plan to return to this (secret) location to continue photographing and videoing the eaglets as they mature and eventually fledge from their nest. If you are not following my blog, I recommend that you click on the above “Sign me up!” button so that you can monitor the growth of the eaglets.

 

 

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Bulls Island, South Carolina

Bulls-Isalnd-Sunrise-2a

I returned late Sunday evening from three days on Bulls Island, which is in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. Bulls Island is an uninhabited barrier island with a beach known as the Boneyard. The Boneyard gets its name from the hundreds of dead trees on the beach that have died from the Atlantic’s seawater that has eroded the island. Bulls Island is an amazing place to visit and photograph. There is much more to see and experience while on the island, including ponds, marshes, wetlands, forest, and a large variety of wildlife.

I only had time to review a few images from my stay on the island, and the above image quickly caught my attention because of the sky and rising sun in the background. The image was taken with a Nikon D810, 24-70 lens at 29mm, f/16, 6.0 sec. and ISO 50.

I will be reviewing and processing more images over the next several days and posting them to my blog.

Posted in National and State Parks, Nature, sunrise | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Iceland – A Nature Lover’s and Photographer’s Paradise

Atlantic-Puffins-Emerging-from-Burrow

(Sunlit Atlantic Puffins on a cliff overlooking a black sand beach. The female puffin is standing at the entrance of her burrow nest.)

In late May 2015, I traveled to Iceland with two friends (Caesar and Ernie), who are also photographers, to photograph Iceland’s landscapes, seascapes and wildlife. I had high expectations, having seen many incredible photographs of Iceland over the last few years. Iceland’s natural, unusual and unspoiled beauty has become very popular among photographers from all over the world, and after visiting for ten days, it is very obvious why.

Steve, Ernie, Ceasar_MG_1755

(Ceasar, me and Ernie photographing puffins at sunset on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic and a black sand beach. Photograph by Páll Jökull Pétursson)

To better ensure our trip would be productive, I hired a professional Icelandic landscape photographer and tour guide to take us to Iceland’s iconic locations, as well as those locations that only a local photographer would know. Páll Jökull Pétursson was our guide for ten days and conducted an extraordinary tour. After our 6 hour flight from northern Virginia, Páll picked us up in his four-wheel drive SUV with extra large tires for off-road driving, which was necessary to get to many locations. Páll immediately began driving our preapproved itinerary and route around the island on Ring Road. Páll planned the details of our trip to include hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. If you are considering a trip to Iceland, I highly recommend contacting Páll Jokull Petursson to either conduct your tour or to prepare an itinerary, if you choose to do it on your own.

As you can imagine, after ten long days in Iceland (sunrise was 3:30AM and sunset 11:30PM), I returned with many RAW image files–over 3,500. Many images were bracketed (same shot, but at different exposures), for focus stacking (same shot, but with different focus points), and various views of the same location. I have spent a lot of time reviewing the images, but have not reviewed them all. I am taking my time, and only reviewing them when not distracted, while enjoying the memories. As I have been selecting images, I have been posting some to Facebook, Instagram, 500px and to my website. Therefore, you may recognize some of the images in this article. They are some of my favorites (so far).

Kirkjufellsfoss-Waterfall-and-Kirkjufell-Mountain

(Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall with Kirkjufell mountain in the background at sunset – 11:16 PM. Stayed up late after a long day, but it was well worth it.)

I considered different options for writing and sharing some of my many images, such as by each day of the trip, region or subject. I decided to start with a general overview (this article), followed by other articles by subject, as follows:

  • Waterfalls (Iceland has many picturesque waterfalls)
  • Glacier Lagoon and blue glacier icebergs
  • Landscapes and seascapes
  • Geothermal activity
  • Atlantic Puffins and other wildlife

In this article, I am including some of my favorite images covering the five subject areas. In future articles, I will also include information about the subject, where the image was taken and how it was photographed.

Gullfoss-Waterfall

(Seljalandsfoss Waterfall on the Seljalandsá River drops 200 ft over former coastline cliffs.)

Our route around the island was predominantly on Ring Road, a road well named as it circumvents the entire island. The places we visited included all of the locations and wildlife I had hoped to see and  photograph, making my trip outstanding in every way.  Although it would be difficult to have a bad tour of Iceland, Páll Jökull Pétursson ensured our trip was a success. When I return to Iceland next year, I will be traveling the island again with Páll.

Eystrahorn-Mountain

(An amazing view from Ring Road of unusually shaped mountains partially cloud covered that was constantly changing as the wind blew.)

I need to go back to reviewing and processing RAW images; so, I am going to conclude this article with a few representative images of what I will sharing over the next few weeks.

Sea-Stack

Above, an unusually shaped sea stack, like a square, just a short walk from Ring Road, but a slippery decent to the black sand beach.

Hellisheidi-1

A very old lava field (above) covered in moss at Hellisheidi.

Blue-Glacier-Ice

Last, but not least…an amazing location where the remains of glacier icebergs wash up on a black sand beach. Glacial ice is blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what our eyes see.

Comments on this article are appreciated and can be entered by clicking on “Comments” found below the Share this: section. You can also read other’s comments there.

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Iceland – Initial Images

Iceland-Pano

I returned from Iceland last week after spending ten full and long days photographing some of Iceland’s most iconic and many other spectacular locations. I have barely had time to unpack my gear and upload images from memory cards, but made time to process a few images that caught my attention while uploading them. Since I am still excited about this amazing photography experience, I want to share that excitement by sharing those first processed images. When I am caught up and have processed more images, I will begin writing a series of articles about my trip and include more images. In the meantime, here are those initial images.

The above photograph is a 12 image panoramic taken on the last day of the trip (go full screen and click on it to see more detail), and below is an Atlantic Puffin lit by the setting sun. I was hoping the Puffins had returned from the sea to their nests so that I could see and photograph them. Well, they had!

Puffin-Iceland

Below is the Skaftáreldahraun lava field covered in green moss and with a small group of trees, which are somewhat rare in Iceland. I will probably write an article just on Iceland’s unusual and beautiful lava fields.

Skaftáreldahraun-Lavafield-with-Green-Moss-and-Trees

Below is a panoramic image of Lómagnúpur mountain and its reflection in the nearby water.

Lómagnúpur-Mountain

Below is one of the many waterfalls that I saw and photographed — Svartifoss Waterfall. Many of the others were larger and more spectacular. I will be writing an article on the waterfalls. I loved Iceland for many reasons and am looking forward to telling and showing you more.

Svartifoss-1

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