I’ve been thinking about Haines, Alaska for the past couple of days because the judge at the last camera club meeting talked about it and has a trip planned there this fall. My trip to Haines last December was my first real field experience using my new 600mm lens. I had trouble panning and keeping birds in focus as I panned. The lens would go in and out of focus depending on lots of factors. Of course the primary problem was operator error and my frustrations with using the lens and my poor long lens and panning techniques led me to a one on one session with Moose Peterson a couple of weeks after I returned from Alaska. With expert guidance and more experience using the lens under my belt…trips to Yellowstone, Costa Rica, and Florida…I’m confident that when I go to Haines again, I’ll be more consistent.
I took thousands of photographs in Alaska and I was so frustrated and disappointed with so many that I haven’t carefully reviewed all of my photos from the trip. Since I’m still finding gems from Costa Rica and Florida, I decided I should start reviewing Alaska again. I picked just one day of the trip. My original assessment at how poor my photos were was not too far off. However, I gave up too quickly then. In my recent review, I found that every few frames the focus improved on some and a few were in good focus. I still have many more photos to go through but this series stood out for me. The entire sequence lasted 11 seconds and consists of 48 photographs. As the eagle flew closer, I maintained focus more consistently but the background changed to snow causing the exposure to change and the resulting shots were very underexposed so I didn’t include them.
In these photographs, the background is nicely blurred, and the bird is in focus. Settings I used in the shots: focal length 1000mm (600mm lens + 1.7x teleconverter); ISO 1600; f/6.7; shutter speeds varied slightly: 1/125 and 1/100. The first two shots are not cropped. The third shot is the second shot cropped first to 8X10, then to a 9X16 ratio to eliminate the excess background.