There are a handful of places that remain untouched by the hustle and bustle of modern life. Nestled in the north a mere stones throw above Snohomish County lies the Skagit River. During the winter months Chum Salmon make their final migration up the banks of this majestic river. There is a special magic to the Skagit as it brings Salmon and Bald Eagles together where they perform a ballet of survival and regeneration that spans the centuries.
The Skagit’s rocky shores remain largely untouched as it appears as though time has stood still when one stands alongside it’s embankments. Those who wish to view Eagles and Salmon in their natural habitat have many vantage points to choose from. One of the most popular locations is Steel Head Park situated in the town of Rockport. Bald Eagle can counts vary from one year to another as low Salmon population adversely effect Bald Eagle numbers.
Lean years that produce low Salmon populations has a direct impact on the number of Eagles that habituate the Skagit River and it’s estuaries. Photographing Bald Eagles can be extremely challenging on the Skagit as lighting conditions can range from very harsh to very overcast lighting within the wink of any eye. Most of the time the roving nature photographer will find the overall lighting conditions to be exceptionally overcast. Having a one touch exposure compensation button will prove to be essential for on the fly shooting as your subjectcan easily fly from one location to another.
From my experience a full frame DSLR camera will give you the best quality images in overcast conditions that are common place on the Skagit River. Choosing your ISO settings to a mid range will give you better shadow detail than cranking up your ISO settings into the stratosphere. An excellent choice for full frame DSLR is the Canon 6D which happens to be selling on Canon’s own web site at a very attractive price. The price on the 6D will continue to fall with the introduction of the pending release of Canon’s 6D MK II.