I went to Skagit Valley on Saturday morning to photograph bald eagles. We left at 6 am and got there just around 7:40 am. We saw 31 eagles altogether, 24 of them while heading east, and only 7 on our way back west (around 11:30 am) - if you plan to go, you definitely want to arrive early in the morning to increase your chances of seeing eagles.
The trip was a great practice session for my safari in late May. Lessons learned or reaffirmed.
- I need to practice more with my long lens - shooting at 600 mm with a 1.4x teleconverter requires careful planning.
- Less is more - I need to keep things simple and minimize the gear I take. The ES 300 f/2.8 is being removed from my safari camera bag. I will just use the 24-70 f/2.8, 100-400 f4.5-5.6, and 600 f/4.
- I need more than 1 camera, you loose too much time and shots switching lenses. Ideally I would have at least 2 cameras, one on the 100-400, and another on the 600. Using 2 Canon 5Ds would be ideal to simplify settings and share batteries, but I am tempted to try a Canon 1D MKII N for its auto-focus system and 8 fps.
After 4 hours in the field, my favorite shot from the whole Skagit Valley trip is the one below
Shot with a Canon 5D, ES 28-300 F 3.5-5.6L IS, Aperture priority, 300 mm, 5.6A at 1/100 sec, ISO 1600, hand held.
In all honesty, all Eagle shots were pretty ordinary, and many were not sharp enough.
I will try to go back again next Saturday if the weather cooperates.