I just realized I never posted this photo. I took the picture near the end of April, and somehow it got lost in the flow.
I had rented the Nikon 500mm PF lens for testing (and a Nikon camera with it; it won’t work well with my Sony). I was driving around like any photo brat, looking for trouble and hoping it would find me.
Find me it did. This eagle came in low and fast, and I stopped the car and watched him get closer and closer. He came in talons first, and tussled with something in the grass (not visible above, but right there next to the posts). I scrambled to get the camera in my hands, turned on, but I was enjoying watching so much I have to admit I just stared for a while. Once the eagle had settled, I rolled down the window and got this shot. I waited, but it was a classic standoff and nothing further happened.
This was a tough image to process. The Nikon PF lenses use a type of lens that actually has grooves in it, called a fresnel lens. You don’t see evidence of the grooves (which are tiny anyway) directly, but it affects the smoothness of out of focus areas—they tend to look grainy, a key reason why I did not buy this type of lens for my use. I had to spend some time in Photoshop softening some of the shadow areas; they had a harsh, grainy appearance.
I haven’t seen another eagle this close since that time; they are all around, I see them in the air all the time, but they are always on the move. I saw on today, in fact, cruising at the same speed I was (25mph), but he flew off and that was that.
It was not a bright day; it’s fortunate the eagle stopped for me. The shot was f/5.6 (wide open on that lens) and 1/160th second; I’m very lucky it’s not blurred. That was the first time I had used a long lens like that, and I really was quite lucky to get a good result; I did almost nothing right. My ISO speed was 64—laughable choice. I learned how to do better over the next few days, but no more eagles came by. So this is my most (only, probably) cherished eagle photo.
Holly cow. Nice catch.