This is an abstract image of an endangered red-crowned crane in flight from my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour. While photographing the cranes, I was surrounded by hundreds of other photographers at the crane centers. I’m not used to being around so many people and have to admit that it is not an experience that I am going to repeat anytime soon. The harsh, middle of the day light also wasn’t the most ideal to shoot in. So, I experimented with my camera and this is one of my better images. I intentionally slowed my shutter speed while panning in an attempt to record subtle movement of the flying crane, as well as blur the busy background.
As I previously mentioned, my favorite part of my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour was photographing the eagles. The two types of eagles that we observed were the Steller’s sea eagle and white-tailed eagle. In order get into position to photograph them on the ice at first light, we had to board the boat at 5am in Rausu’s harbor. The boat then motored out to the ice edge where the guides attracted the eagles with fish. This image of a white-tailed eagle in flight is one of my favorites from the entire tour. I like how its wings are completely outstretched and razor sharp talons are prepared to grapple the ice pillar as it lands. I prefer this more natural flight behavior image compared to when the eagles were swooping up fish that were thrown on to the ice for them.
Does this image look cold? Well, that is because it was -20°C when I photographed this tranquil scene during my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour. As recently as a few years ago, I probably would not have taken this image. I was either too focused on dramatic light or incapable of visualizing something like this. Either way, I am pleased that I am able to push myself in new creative directions. What I like most about this image is the delicate frost patterns along the riverbank. I took care not to disturb them, since while approaching these trees I had already brushed past several branches whose chilly feathers immediately fell into the fresh snow at my feet.
My favorite part of my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour was photographing the Steller’s sea eagles. This involved getting up at 4am, boarding a boat at 5am, then motoring out to the pack ice in the dark in order to be in position for first light. It was also very cold, something like -20°C. Once we arrived at the ice edge, the crew then proceeded to attract the eagles by placing and throwing fish on to the ice. Within a short time, we had tons of seagulls, crows, white-tailed eagles, and Steller’s all around us. There was so much action in the chaos that it was hard to figure out what to shoot. I blew the gorgeous sunrise light the first morning, but focused on dramatic flight shots the second morning. That is when I photographed this dynamic eagle coming in for a landing with its talons out.