A philosophy that works for me...
The Skagit River is a beautiful, majestic and important tributary in Puget Sound. In the shadow of Mt. Baker and downstream from Ross Lake, every year the salmon runs in the Skagit provide the life blood to a wide array of animals in Northwest Washington. While making their migratory trek to spawn, salmon are prey to bears, birds, an assortment of animals, and fishermen. Pink, Sockeye, and especially Chinook Salmon make that long cold and treacherous journey up river to spawn, then die. Soon after their exposed decaying carcasses line the shore and sand bars to provide vital nourishment for the Bald Eagles, gulls and other wildlife that inhabit the rivers edge. Battles ensue between juvenile and adult Bald Eagles over the fatty flesh of these once mighty fish. This winter my interest was the amazing photographic possibilities the Bald Eagles can provide.
My goal is to get the shot in the camera. I own one the best DSLR cameras made. The 5D MarkIII is a 23 mega pixel full frame camera, shoots 6 frames a second and possesses amazing autofocus features. My choice of lenses is exclusively Canon. That day I used my recently purchased, newly released Canon 100-400mm MarkII lens. My belief is to do as much as possible with my equipment. Based on that philosophy, I choose not to crop, edit, or 'PhotoShop' an image whenever possible. This is only my philosophy for my photography. All of the images in this blog are the raw images, shot, exported, then posted in jpeg format.
My camera settings were as follows. ISO was set at 400. Because I was shooting subjects moving at medium to fast rates of speed, my shutter speed was between 1/1000th and 1/2000th of a second. At times I was shooting at 1/2500th of a second to reduce wing blur. To maintain the best possible focus and depth of field, my aperture was usually set at f/5.6, and up to f/7.1. For the shots posted here my camera's histogram was nearly perfectly centered. This worked best for me that day.
My success to date has been underwater photography, but I also love wildlife photography. I try to capture the natural beauty of my subject against a pleasing or complimentary background. I focus on the eyes and the face. Many animals possess features or characteristics that can be interpreted as expressions or attitudes. This helps to tell a story. It helps to create an interesting and beautiful image. When I am successful, the image may also be emotionally satisfying.
Winter in the Northwest is not always conducive to outdoor and wildlife photography. This winter has been especially harsh. Last week we were fortunate to have an excellent day for viewing and shooting Eagles. Getting out with Skagit River Eagle Tours was a fantastic photographic opportunity and an adventure I highly recommend. Our guide, Wayne has been living and working on the river for decades. He knows the area very well. His company has been taking many photographers out for years. He understands navigating his boat to get as close as possible given the laws and regulations. Being on a tour with a professional truly makes a big difference.
Drew Collins professional underwater photographer and environmentalist living and diving primarily in the beautiful Emerald green waters of Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington.