More Frustrations With Photographing Golden Eagles

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Golden Eagle lift off - poor angleGolden Eagle lift off – poor angle – Nikon D500, f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 1600, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I get absolutely tired of the frustrations I have had trying to photograph Golden Eagles, it seems that something or someone nearly always messes with my chances of getting the images I want of them. A few of the things that happen are listed below:

  • Low light or the wrong angle of light is often a big issue;
  • a vehicle comes along and scares the eagle away, this happens a lot;
  • the eagle is in great light but is in a location where it isn’t safe to stop and photograph it;
  • the eagle is on the wrong side of the road and by the time you get turned around the eagle is gone;
  • not getting to the best location quickly enough to take the shot, this also happens too frequently;
  • or the eagle takes flight away from me so all I get is a butt shot or some other poor angle.

This list could go on and on but I think my point has been made.

Two days ago the radar/satellite looked good at my destination but once again it was wrong, there were heavy clouds and the light sucked for most of the morning and guess what? I had crappy light when my only opportunity with a Golden Eagle happened that morning.

I spotted a Northern Harrier chasing the Golden Eagle in flight and then I saw the eagle land just out of sight on a rocky hillside just a little bit north of where I was and guess what? I didn’t get into a good position where the eagle would have been visible fast enough to photograph it on the hillside before it took off and the shots I did get of it right after lifting off were disappointing because the eagle was mostly facing away. I like everything about this image except the angle of the eagle’s head and eye.

Low light Golden Eagle in flight - large cropLow light Golden Eagle in flight – large crop – Nikon D500, f5.6, 1/2000, ISO 1600, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Then the Golden Eagle flew way up on a hillside and walked around on the sagebrush slope for a bit way in the distance, my only hope was that when the bird lifted off it would fly in my direction close enough to get a decent flight shot without having to crop too much, for me too much is more than a 50% crop.

After a few minutes the Golden Eagle did lift off from the sagebrush-covered hillside but it sure didn’t fly as close to me as I had hoped for, this photo is only 37% of the original frame and that combined with the low light, high ISO and visible noise produced an image that looks okay at web sized resolution but isn’t of high enough quality for printing or publication.

I’ll just have to keep on trying and maybe one day I’ll finally get the images I want of Golden Eagles that I dream off.

Yeah, I know I probably sound disappointed and I am, but sometimes it helps to let off steam and this morning I decided to do that publicly because once again for a variety of reasons I didn’t get the photos of a Golden Eagle that I have hoped for. Those who follow my blog regularly know that I don’t make a habit of grumbling or whining and I promise that I won’t change and start to be a grumbler or a “Negative Nelly” here on my blog. That just isn’t part of who I am.

Despite the challenges and frustrations life is good.



  1. Laura Culley April 17, 2018 at 9:01 am

    All problems aside, you do have a golden eagle in your sight! That is a very good thing. 😉

  2. Pepe Forte April 17, 2018 at 12:50 am

    I understand how you feel but trust your admirers…those are both really powerful pics; especially the second one. I can’t wait to see what images you get of a golden eagle when conditions are right. Thanks Mia.

  3. Marty K April 16, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    In my book, any Golden shot is a good shot! 🙂 Love the greens of the background. Just lovely. Happy sigh…

  4. Patty Chadwick April 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Maybe you don’t get the images YOU dream of , but you certainly get the ones I dream of!!!

  5. Elephants Child April 16, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I am sorry for your frustrations, and love the shots you did capture.

  6. Curtis S Andersen April 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

    I feel your pain!!! At least you found one. I can’t even say that. As hard as you work at finding birds you will get your shot. It is just a matter of time.

  7. Catherine April 16, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Mia, your photos are still great. I understand your feeling but hoepfully someday you will manage. Meanwhile, try not to be frustrated. Nature and birds are very rewarding themes for a photographer. As you say, Life is good.

  8. Patty Chadwick April 16, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Both of these images are drop dead fantastic!!! The size and detail of the first and the gracefulness wings of the second….BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  9. Bob mcpherson April 16, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Good eagle photos are elusive. These are good.

  10. Liz Cormack April 16, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Regardless of the low light & having to crop the photo……..they are still great flight shots.

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