Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pine Creek Valley

The Pine Creek Valley in North Central Pennsylvania holds many special memories for me.  It was my backyard when I was growing up and the memories of picnics, fishing and hunting are near and dear to my heart.  Joan and I spend quite a bit of our leisure time in the valley relaxing and enjoying the wildlife.  I am truly thankful for the foresight of my grandfather and his friends that worked so hard to have the Pine Creek Gorge made into a "wild area" protecting it from urban development.

The Bald Eagle has made a significant comeback in that area.  Starting at Ansonia and traveling south there are eagle nests about every 5 miles. The Pa Game Commission likes to take full credit for the recovery.  However, spending time observing and photographing the adult eagles and the nests has shown that it was the Pennsylvania program combined with the New York State programs that made the success. Just about every nesting pair along Pine Creek has one of the adults originating from the Mohawk River in Upper New York State.   The majestic birds are smart--they mate with others outside their own gene pool to help prevent the adverse effects of breeding within the same gene pool.  Over the past month we have spent a considerable amount of time relaxing, biking, hiking and photographing in the Pine Creek Valley and the area known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

The Eagle photographs above were taken of an Adult Eagle (that was born along the Mohawk River in upper New York State) that was guarding one of the nests along Pine Creek.  It was one of the best opportunities I have had for "perfect" lighting to photograph eagles.  We had almost 100% cloud cover, but they were white clouds that allowed lots of light to still be present to keep shutter speeds up while at the same time eliminating shadows and the ever present problem with Bald Eagles of reflective light off the head that creates a halo effect.

After bike riding through the canyon last Saturday afternoon, we took a ride to the barrens area above Cedar Run to look for deer, bear and other wildlife.  We found a very large black bear and I followed him carefully through the woods to get an opportunity to photograph him.  I got a number of pictures of his behind, but then as he came to an opening to cross a portion of a Game Commission field, he stopped and looked at me. He was rather close, but did not seem to mind I was there.  It was an exhilarating moment, but a tough one from a photographic viewpoint.  I opened the aperture almost wide open and took the ISO to 2000.  I was amazed and pleased with the results that I got.  keep in mind that this is an un-cropped photograph!

The backlighting made his nose and fur glow, but the nostrils, eye and hair are still crisp even at high ISO.


Anonymous said...

Amazing shots! Wonderful detail. I also like your layout -- the size of the photos.

Willard said...

Outstanding shots, Jim. If those were taken with the 600mm, it looks like it is working out extremely well.

Coy said...

Excellent shots Jim! The return of the eagles has taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people and various agencies. To begin with the use of DDT had to be banned; no small task with all of the political pressure the chemical industry brought to bear, and then the work of capturing and rearing the eagles. Thankfully all of the effort paid off.

Love the bear shot! That is one BIG bear!

jo©o said...

Don't know what impresses me more: the photograph or your courage :-)