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Bald eagles of the James River
Lens: DA* 300 Camera: Pentax K-r Photo Location: James River, VA 
Posted By: loco, 11-12-2014, 05:15 PM

I'm sorry I haven't posted on the forum for some time. This year has been a down year for me, photography-wise. I just haven't been out shooting as much as I have in the past. Things have picked up lately and I'm starting to get back into it. Then, my K-30 broke and needed to go in for repair.

Wouldn't you know it - the week after I sent the K-30 off for who knows how long I got a call inviting me to come on a bald eagle tour on the James River near Richmond, Virginia. The eagles have come back and started settling along the James in good numbers in recent years. Many pairs call the area home and migratory birds pass through often.

Photographing bald eagles has been on my bucket list ever since I got into photography a few years ago, so it was awesome to finally get to do it. I had to bring my K-r and that proved challenging since TAv mode was not available to me. I found I got my best shots in manual mode, but since lighting conditions were changing often, TAv would've been a much easier way to go - set it and forget it. I also think the improved tracking continuous focus capabilities of the K-30 would've been very helpful.

Since my only telephoto lens was the DA L 55-300, I rented the DA* 300/4 for this trip. The 55-300 AF is very slow and I think would've been totally inappropriate for this type of photography.

The first hour or so was pure frustration. Everyone else was showing me their great photos and I hadn't gotten one in focus yet!! Following the birds in flight through a 300mm lens is quite a challenge and if the AF missed, then you lost them and it was hell trying to get them back in frame again. Slowly I started to get a little better and finally got a few in-focus shots. Hooray!! Of course by then, the three hour tour was almost over. I really want to go back some time when I get my K-30 back.

In the end, I took over 530 snaps and discarded about 80% of them. Here are a few shots I got which I like and I hope you enjoy them! If you get the opportunity to photograph eagles, I heartily recommend it. It is extremely challenging and will test your skills and help you learn new ones. Plus, it's incredibly rewarding -- not only to get eagle photos but just to see them in the wild. They are amazing animals!

Thank you for looking!

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11-12-2014, 05:17 PM   #2
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Beautiful captures. I especially like the third one.
11-12-2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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Very nice.
11-12-2014, 05:29 PM   #4
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Excellent images. I'm sure I would have printed at least one, if I'd taken them.

11-12-2014, 05:49 PM   #5
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We've sure missed you Lori, these are just wonderful captures, I'm so jealous of you. All we have here in the desert are ravens and an occasional hawk. You certainly haven't lost your skills, nice to have you back.
11-12-2014, 06:15 PM   #6
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Well played, especially first three.

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11-12-2014, 06:23 PM   #7
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Nice work! I went up to Conowingo yesterday and filled up my recycle bin with the results so I'm super jealous ;~)
11-12-2014, 07:25 PM   #8
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Incredible captures. Those are wonderfully sharp. Might I just say, this picture just screams 'Merica. Such a majestic bird.

11-12-2014, 07:53 PM   #9
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Thanks to you all! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!
11-12-2014, 08:05 PM   #10
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wow. these are excellent captures. makes me want that lens even more haha
11-12-2014, 08:11 PM   #11
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Great series -- serious eye candy going on here. Thanks for sharing them
11-13-2014, 12:51 AM   #12
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Everyone of these are great, sharp and beautiful.
11-13-2014, 06:58 AM   #13
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Dadipentak, I have thought about going to Conowingo myself, but it is a long drive and when I found out about this place which is only 90 minutes or so from me, I decided to give it a go. There aren't as many eagles on the James as at Conowingo Dam, but there are enough for me!

Venom, esrandall, and madhurvyas, thanks so much!

I would love to purchase the DA* 300, Venom, but I'm not sure i can justify the price for how often I'd use it. A 300mm prime would be a pretty specialized tool for me. I suppose if I get to go see eagles again, I'll try to rent it again. It really is a fantastic lens, though. Sharp wide open, but stopped down to around f/5.6, it's razor sharp. Great bokeh, too.
11-13-2014, 08:12 AM   #14
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Those are amazing!
11-13-2014, 08:53 AM   #15
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Great shots, Lori! Amazing photos. I can't do bird in flight photos. Of course, I don't have a DA *300 either. Maybe someday...
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