This shot was taken in Bulgaria, during my preparation for a new destination for my nature photography workshops. I travelled all over Bulgaria and Greece with my local operator, and after we had been photographing stunning pelicans, woodpeckers, landscapes, geese and much more, we spent some days in a hide in the mountains for eagles and vultures.
Vultures were extinct in Bulgaria some years ago, and the government had installed some feeding stations to help introduce the vultures again. This seemed to have been working well, because there were quite a lot of Griffon vultures visiting the feeding ground, where some bones and leftovers were offered to the birds. Of course, here in the mountains, we were also in the middle of the Golden eagle territory, and he became a daily visitor after a while, chasing the vultures away actually…
It had been an exhausting week with temperatures at -20°C and short nights and long drives from one spot to the other, but I enjoyed it a lot! Downside is, you could easily lose your concentration when nothing is happening…
While I was enjoying the Golden eagle, eating from the carrion (I already had been photographing it for the previous hour or so, so I had what I wanted), nothing exciting really happened anymore. The eagle was getting stuffed and the Ravens started to give up their harassing, when suddenly something reddish came over the ridge, behind the eagle, too unsharp for me to see through my low depth of field 600mm lens.
But what happened then in the next seconds, was just automatic reaction; I saw the Golden eagle swooping up, and immediately started following the bird with my lens and started shooting away, and between the shutter-mirror ups, I could just witness what was happening: a red fox came down to the feeding station, to grab some meat, but the Golden eagle wasn’t really pleased with that and chased the poor fox away! Just seconds and tens of shots later, the eagle was back at his table, and nothing seemed to have happened!
But I was eagerly glaring at my LCD screen, and could hardly hold my joy when I saw most of the shots were pin-sharp and both animals had great expressions! I was really lucky to had my complete set-up in the perfect settings, there could have been a thousand things that would have ruined my shots: my Wimberly could have been locked, my converter could have been attached, my ISO could have been to low (when trying to shoot some movements earlier on), the wrong camera could have been on the lens, I could have been drinking coffee at the moment,…
But now everything was right; I had the Nikon D3s on the lens without a converter (I had been working with my D3x, D330s, sometimes with 1.4x and 2x converters, which all would have ruined my chances), my ISO was set on 400, and my aperture was full open at F4 and mode was on Aperture priority.
Thanks to the snow I had all the light ànd speed I wanted. Although I was really happy with the shots, the day turned out to be quite long and cold in the evening…I was happy to stretch the legs when it finally got dark, and to put on the snowshoes, to start the long descend back to the car!
I had never been to Bulgaria, but after these experiences, I know I had been waiting too long to discover the beautiful country!
That’s why I immediately booked some periods and will guide several trips next coming years! Everybody who wants to join me, is welcome to have a look at my photo tours website www.tierraphototours.be