I grew up in Osceola County and over the years I would occasionally see large figures adorning the high branches of trees or the very top of telephone poles during my travels.
My grandmother always said that it was good luck to see them because they're not exactly common to see, but the more I look the more I notice that Osceola County has an abundance of bald eagles.
It's not just Osceola County, but I've noticed these large "raptors" (as they're often referred to as in the bird-loving community) more often than not in the Evart area either by the river or overlooking an open field in search for small animals to prey upon.
As readers of this blog know, I love wildlife photography and bald eagles are no exception to my desire to get closer to animals for photos.
The only problem with bald eagles in particular is that they can be really far away from you, and — unless you want to trespass on people's properties (I don't) — you're not likely to get a good photograph of them without a certain amount of luck.
So, when I go out looking for eagles I often will drive around with my camera in my lap (much like I do with deer) and hope that I get lucky enough to see an eagle alongside the road. A helpful way to shorten the distance between myself and my subject is to use my Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM II.
This lens has a fantastic reach (as I've mentioned numerous times in the past) and the image quality it brings to the table makes cropping images less of a problem than it normally is.
I'm especially thankful for this lens when it comes to looking for bald eagles because 90 percent of the time the eagles are more than a couple hundred feet away, and being able to not only zoom in to reach the subject but to be able to crop the photo afterward and still retain good image quality is great.
Eagles are elusive.
The main photo for this column was taken alongside the road (lucky) and it just so happened that the eagle didn't fly away immediately after I got out of my car to snap the photo (really lucky).
The other photos you see are just random run-ins I've had with eagles in flight as I drive around.
As far as camera settings go, I generally set my camera's ISO (the camera sensor's sensitivity to light) to a low 100 because I'm most often shooting high into the sky where there is a lot of light. Using a fast shutter speed is preferable so I keep my aperture low (unless it's REALLY bright outside) so that I can use an action-stopping shutter speed; usually around 1/2000.
If there's a nice day out and you have the time, head out to Evart with your camera and have a look around. It's well worth it.