Canon SX60 and the Bald Eagle

For the past 7+ days it has been dark and dreary in northern Minnesota. In short, not a photography paradise. The low light and and clouds can depress a photographer. This morning while up on Old Vermilion Trail, I spied a bald eagle in a picturesque location. The resulting image given below shows the limitation of super zoom / bridge cameras like my SX60 in low light. For a flight shot, I set my exposure to 1/800 th of a second which given my small sensor forced a high, noisy ISO setting upon me (1,600). I am happy with the image as I know given my equipment, it was the best possible result. I also know that if I owned a DSLR with a long lens, my result would have been better.

I’ve reviewed my Canon SX-60 on this web site, and I like the camera, but like any piece of equipment it is good to understand its limitations. This camera allows me to easily hike into remote areas which would be impossible with a DSLR and a big, expensive lens. The price trade-off is nice  ($450 vs BIG MONEY)!

I have also included my recent Snowy Owl in flight photo. It demonstrates the difference in the quality of the output between good and poor light for a super zoom / bridge camera.

Bald Eagle: ISO = 1,600; Exposure = 1/800 of a second; Aperture = 6.5

Snowy Owl: ISO = 320; Exposure = 1/800 of a second; Aperture = 5.6

The Robins of Frostbite Falls

Yesterday was January 19th, a day in northern Minnesota when the normal average high is 20F. Instead, we topped out at 45F. Just one week ago the morning temperature was -20F. In short, this region is NOT an area where robins should be found in the winter. However, over the past week hundreds of robins have been seen in Duluth and along the north shore of Lake Superior. The photograph shown below was one bird out of a flock of 20 robins which I found foraging on some open grounds next to Lake Superior. I guarantee there are no worms to be found as the frost line is two feet deep in the soil. Thus, I have no idea what these birds were eating. It is worth noting that ten miles inland from the big lake there are two feet of snow on the ground, but not next to Lake Superior.

The other unusual aspect of this photograph is that I was birding by bicycle. My bike is a touring bike, not a winter fat tire bike. My cycling clothes will not keep me warm in the middle of winter; thus, I do not remember taking a bike ride in January. Strange.

Finally, here is one more photograph from my visit with a Snowy Owl earlier this week.

3 Bears and a Baby!

There ARE things more important that birding in life! Eh gads … this sounds sacrilegious! Thankfully I have my priorities straight in life, and am enjoying some time off from hiking and photographing the Northwoods to greet my fourth grandchild, Maren Hoeg!

My granddaughter is enjoying a few winks surrounded by three generations of “Hoeg Bears”.

  • The smallest and oldest bear, Tommy Bear, was given to me on the day I was born by my Dad some sixty years ago …
  • The middle bear, Mr. Bear, I gave to my son, Carl, on the day he was born some thirty years ago …
  • The youngest and biggest bear, yet to be named in the future by Maren, was given to her by my son Carl (her father) on her “birth day” last Thursday!


Snowy Owl in Flight: Hunting!

Today was one of those days when I am thrilled to live on the Arctic Riviera! Instead of extremely cold sub zero weather, when I went owling before sunset the wind was calm, the skies were blue, and the temperature was just a few degrees below freezing. Better yet, my birding hit the jackpot 30 minutes before sunset. I found a Snowy Owl which was beginning its evening hunt. Not only did this owl not mind my presence, at one point while I was watching this bird from a distance of 40 yards, it actually flew over and landed on the pole in the picture directly above my head.

Uff Dah! I actually had to walk away from the Snowy Owl unless I wanted to take images straight up. Now from a distance of 20 yards I waited with my finger on the shutter for the Snowy to fly. Twice there were false alarms as this bird thought it had a vole in its sights, but the third time was a charm! The owl flew and I pressed down and did a burst of photographs. Here are my favorite two images. Now that I know where this bird hunts, I plan on making more late afternoon excursions.