Birds

Bald Eagles at the Dam

It’s wonderful to be back at Conowingo Dam and the season has been good. After last year when the dam was wide open for weeks on end due to flooding, and the eagles left because they couldn’t fish, it’s great to have them back.

On my visit over a week ago I lost count after 160 eagles and knew there were more. I was back today but didn’t have a chance to do a head count. Someone I knew that has been there more often lately claims there are less now, but the amount of activity I saw today lead me to believe otherwise.

After my photography class I was able to spend a little more time with the Sony A9 and 200-600mm. As with any new instrument, practice makes perfect and today was a great time to do that.

Allow me to say that the tracking is incredible once you’ve acquired focus. Here is a sample of what it can do with a very busy foreground.

Then I captured my two favorite images for the season so far. When an eagle was emerging from an autumn tree.

As I was using my preferred setting of Aperture Priority I was working on capturing an eagle in a tree that was back lit. Before I knew it, some action took place and I didn’t have time to change my metering mode from Spot Metering to Evaluative (or Matrix) metering. And some wonky stuff happened.

I use this setting frequently with Canon and it is good in staying within a good exposure range for a series of images. The Sony A9 really jumped around from dark to bright in the series. A big discrepancy in exposure. The shutter speeds ranges from 1/200 of a sec to 1/1000 of second in rapid succession. As a result I’ll be working in Manual mode more often for more reliable and consistent results.

On another note, I did discover the Zebra ‘blinkies’ or highlight alert on image playback. Toggling the Display spot on round control dial I arrived to a page that has the image small on the top left, and the RGB histogram on the right and camera settings on the bottom. It flashes quickly but the image is so small in the playback. Not ideal but better than nothing.

I’m excited to return to the dam for yet another chance at the eagles. Now that I have a camera that can give me the reach with a quick hand-holdable system I can’t wait to pan and scan with them.

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