Tuesday, February 28, 2023

It's Not National Geographic, But ...

I was feeling really excited about my latest photos of a bald eagle ... until I saw the winning photo from the 2022 National Geographic Picture of the Year.

A bald eagle arrives to steal a perch on a tree log that offers a strategic view of the shoreline at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska. When other eagles drag freshly caught salmon in from the water, these bystanders swoop in to take a share. (Photo by Karthik Subramaniam) To see all of National Geographic's contest winners, click HERE.

In reality, I've entered eagle photos and other photos of birds in the Stafford County Fair before. They rarely get any ribbon at all. However, all my bird photos have been the equivalent of portraits - birds sitting still on a branch or on my backyard fence or, in the case of some visiting bluebirds four years ago, perched on dried grasses in our pasture.

There's no action like that spectacular photo taken in Alaska. (On the other hand, I know how hard it is to capture even these still photos with a small camera sans a tripod and telephoto lens. But when you enter a photo contest, you don't get to plead your case about how many clicks of the shutter it took to get a few photos in focus. The judge didn't know that in all my years as a Kansan, I'd never seen a bluebird before. Whether it was a ribbon winner or not, I still love the bluebird photos.)

See more photos from February 2019 in our pasture, by clicking HERE.

In contrast, photographer Karthik Subramaniam told National Geographic that he'd camped out near the shore of Chikat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska for a week to capture the perfect shot.

My single eagle was hanging out near the mama cows and their babies. Randy had taken a solo trip to drive through the cattle lot. But he called and told me about the eagle. We figured by the time he came back home to pick me up, the eagle would have flown the coop - or, the cottonwood tree, in this case.

But it was still there. It stayed for a little bit, then flew away. We saw it again in other trees, but it departed before we could get close enough for my camera's little telephoto lens. But, when we got back to the road, the eagle had again perched in the cottonwoods near the road, giving me another chance at some photos. We were there when it flew away both times, but I wasn't fast enough to capture the majestic bird in flight. I never am!

So - no camping out for days in the Alaskan cold for me. But I still was thrilled to get close enough to our Kansas eagle to take some "portraits" - whether they are National Geographic material or not.  

To see all of National Geographic's contest winners, click HERE