Panther Falls

On my most recent trip to the Canadian Rockies I heard about a not so famous waterfall. It's called Panther Falls. Not sure why it's not more popular, even the trail getting to the falls is narrow and not traveled very often. When I visited, our group was the only ones at the falls and on that trail. I think the main reason it's not more popular is because few people actually know about it. After all the parking area is for the Bridal Veil falls view. There are no signs that I could see letting me know where the falls were. See map below on how to get to the falls.  

 

I have to say the power and volume of these falls are impressive. I spent some time trying to capture the falls and ended up going for a vertical panorama. It's somewhat tricky to photograph Panther falls but it's worth the short hike to just view this powerful waterfall. It should be on everyone's must see Canadian Rockies waterfalls list.

The Bald Eagles of Iowa

When most people think of this iconic bird, they associate them with Alaska not the midwest. The bald eagles of Iowa is a large flock that migrate there in the winter. Not really sure where they come from but I do know they migrate. They leave Iowa in the spring. The eagles young and old take part in a feast of fish that the Mississippi river supplies. They particularly like the locks and dams on the Mississippi. The locks and dams stun the fish temporarily bringing them to the surface of the river. This makes a great buffet for the Baldies. I visited a couple locations while I was searching for this symbol of america. I found two that were pretty well populated with eagles. The first place was at Credit Island Park. See map below.

 

Credit island is a nice park with picnic tables, swings for the kids, and even an old tank. In the winter it turns into a Bald Eagle resting area as it overlooks the Mississippi river. They use the trees in the park to look over the river for any fish that may come to the surface. You can capture eagles perched in trees, but from this location it's difficult to get any action shots of eagles plucking the fish from the cold waters.

The second place and the better of the two was a place called Lock and Dam 14 Park. See map below. I first arrived just after sunrise and it was -5 degrees fahrenheit(wind chill was much colder). I was a bit hesitant about getting out to explore, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, there was an eagle perched in a nearby tree. I grabbed a few clicks and after that the temperature seemed less bothersome.

I walked around this small park and at a certain vantage point I could see about 70-80 bald eagles perched in the trees. They all gathered in this one particular area. It was a cool sight, but to far away to get a good photograph. As the sun got higher in the sky the eagles began to do their fishing. When one would grab a fish it drew the attention of the other eagles and many would chase that eagle to get the fish away. This resulted in some mid air scraps and wonderful photo opportunities. I would say that a 400mm would be the shortest lens to use. If you are capable of renting a lens I would go with a 500mm or 600mm, and that would get you some pretty awesome images.

The winter season in and around the Mississippi and the quad cities are great for Bald Eagle images. I haven't seen another place like it! I will be going back, next winter with a longer lens! The images below are from both Credit Island park and Lock and Dam Park 14. I was using a 70-200mm with a 1.4 extender.

A Bald Eagle overlooking the Mississippi river looking for his breakfast.

Bald-eagle-photo

May 2012 Solar Eclipse

The Solar eclipse occurred yesterday for much of the country. The best views were in the western half of the US but here in Michigan we had the chance to view a partial eclipse. The eclipse didn't totally block out the sun, for those that watched the moon pass in front of the sun, there was a ring of light around the moon. A complete blockage of the sun or a "Total Eclipse" will occur August 21 2017 for a good chunk of the US and will be much more impressive than this years "ring eclipse". In 2017 the moon will block out the sunlight casting a shadow on earth providing an eerie midday twilight. In any even it's always a joy witnessing nature do it's thing. I am glad I was able to witness the event.

          7D with a 70-200 II with 1.4 extender III. Zoomed out to 200 f45 1/8000 sec @ ISO 100

AEO Lightning Strike II Review

Spring and summer is a great time to view storms and the lightning that accompanies it. Capturing lightning at night is far easier than during the day, but it still takes some timing, and more often than not requires a lot of guess work and luck. Not with the AEO Lightning Strike II. All you do is attach this device to the hot shoe of your camera and sit back and let it do the work for you. Although it's a bit sensitive during the daytime hours, I found that it triggered the camera without lightning present, during the darker hours it works wonderfully. The best thing about the Lightning Strike II, is it's fairly inexpensive. Follow this link to B&H to get yours. Pick out the right connector for your camera, plug it in, and go find the lightning. Like with all things, be safe when storm chasing, it's often a good idea to set your camera on a tripod and take shelter. I often set up my tripod just outside my car while I stay inside my vehicle. If lightning happens to strike my camera I will be safe.

5D III 16-35mm at 16mm. f5.6 @ ISO 100

This weeks image is made up of 5 frames of lightning strikes, layered and blended in Photoshop. The shutter speeds were determined by the cameras "evaluative" meter and each frame had a different shutter speed, but most of them were around 30 sec. The camera was set in aperture priority and triggered with the AEO Lightning Strike II. The red streaks is a car moving through the frame during one of the longer exposures.

Overall the AEO triggers work as advertised and is recommended if you would also like to capture the elusive lightning.