L&D 14,...Eagles??? Question??
/forum/topic/1181635/0

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kkennardis
Registered: Jan 08, 2008
Total Posts: 567
Country: United States

I have wanted to make the 7.5 hour drive to the northern Mississippi valley to photograph the bald eagles. It seems that I may finally have an opportunity to visit the eagles. I noticed that here on FM it appears that most of the shooting is at L&D 14 (Pleasant Valley, IA) however the bald eagle counts are higher in L&D 18 (Burlington, IA).

My question; Is there a reason that L&D 14 is so popular? Is there a better shooting location; is the river narrower in that location? How about the light, is there a better angle that the light comes in from in the east or the west?

Any tips that can be provided to facilitate a successful trip would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Ken

P.S. I will be shooting a 500mm with a 1.4x extender.



Paul Hokanson
Registered: Dec 20, 2007
Total Posts: 89
Country: United States

Hi Ken,

Burlington may have more eagles, but if you are making that long of a drive and only have time for one location, LD 14 is your destination.

LD 14 has the capability of giving you both flyover and fishing shots, whereas at Burlington you are farther away from fishing eagles, but will get flyover shots.

I have a 400 mm lens and a 7D and find it to be great for both fishing and flyover shots at LD14. You may find that you are too long if you have the 500 on a 1.6 crop body. That is how close you are to the eagles!!!!! You won't need the 1.4 on the 500, unless you are taking static pictures of eagles in trees next to the parking lot.

You are basically positioned on a long boardwalk, immediately next to the downriver side of a lock. Eagles perch in trees on the other side of the lock and swoop down for any fish they see immediately in front of the boardwalk. The planners of that place couldn't have designed it, knowingly or unknowingly, any better. Fantastic!!!

The winter sun will make shooting better in the afternoon, when it is at your back or to the downriver side of the lock. I've found that the best shooting is with a southern wind, when the eagles pick up fish flying downriver into the wind and into the afternoon sun.

Paul



BNJarrett
Registered: Jan 27, 2011
Total Posts: 644
Country: United States

Paul Hokanson wrote:
Hi Ken,

Burlington may have more eagles, but if you are making that long of a drive and only have time for one location, LD 14 is your destination.

LD 14 has the capability of giving you both flyover and fishing shots, whereas at Burlington you are farther away from fishing eagles, but will get flyover shots.

I have a 400 mm lens and a 7D and find it to be great for both fishing and flyover shots at LD14. You may find that you are too long if you have the 500 on a 1.6 crop body. That is how close you are to the eagles!!!!! You won't need the 1.4 on the 500, unless you are taking static pictures of eagles in trees next to the parking lot.

You are basically positioned on a long boardwalk, immediately next to the downriver side of a lock. Eagles perch in trees on the other side of the lock and swoop down for any fish they see immediately in front of the boardwalk. The planners of that place couldn't have designed it, knowingly or unknowingly, any better. Fantastic!!!

The winter sun will make shooting better in the afternoon, when it is at your back or to the downriver side of the lock. I've found that the best shooting is with a southern wind, when the eagles pick up fish flying downriver into the wind and into the afternoon sun.

Paul


Well advised



burtcg
Registered: Feb 11, 2009
Total Posts: 172
Country: United States

+ +
LD14 is the best place in the US to photograph Bald Eagles!
Most of the time I can't use 1.4 with 500 (too close)
Many places may have higher counts but Le Claire is the place to shoot because birds fish right in front of you.
We had snow last night and its cold and light is improving.....I'm headed back to 14.



burtcg
Registered: Feb 11, 2009
Total Posts: 172
Country: United States

+ +
LD14 is the best place in the US to photograph Bald Eagles!
Most of the time I can't use 1.4 with 500 (too close)
Many places may have higher counts but Le Claire is the place to shoot because birds fish right in front of you.
We had snow last night and its cold and light is improving.....I'm headed back to 14.



andrewhuxman
Registered: Jul 29, 2005
Total Posts: 370
Country: United States

burtcg wrote:
+ +
LD14 is the best place in the US to photograph Bald Eagles!
Most of the time I can't use 1.4 with 500 (too close)
Many places may have higher counts but Le Claire is the place to shoot because birds fish right in front of you.
We had snow last night and its cold and light is improving.....I'm headed back to 14.


Burt.....Do I detect a little bias there .......LMAO........ Its the best place in the lower 48 thats for sure they wont be any closer to you anywhere else.



USM IS
Registered: Apr 12, 2010
Total Posts: 1249
Country: United States

andrewhuxman wrote:
burtcg wrote:
+ +
LD14 is the best place in the US to photograph Bald Eagles!
Most of the time I can't use 1.4 with 500 (too close)
Many places may have higher counts but Le Claire is the place to shoot because birds fish right in front of you.
We had snow last night and its cold and light is improving.....I'm headed back to 14.


Burt.....Do I detect a little bias there .......LMAO........ Its the best place in the lower 48 thats for sure they wont be any closer to you anywhere else.


"Close" exactly, there are higher counts at other dam sites in the area, but if they are a mile away it does you no good, even a 800 + 2x converter is useless. Plus you would miss all the lovely company of Burt,Larry, and others if you go elsewhere!

Mike



Todd Ryburn
Registered: Aug 29, 2010
Total Posts: 81
Country: United States

Yes, L&D 14 is worth the drive. I shoot with an 800mm on a full frame body there and do lose a few pictures from being too close. I also own a 500 a have used that a few time as well. It really just depends on how close they are fishing at one particular time. I would say anything 400 or above is plenty there.

As yes the locals, Burt, Larry, and others add a great deal to the fun of going there!

Here is one from last weekend:



itchhhh
Registered: Jan 31, 2012
Total Posts: 68
Country: United States

Awesome shot Todd! The clarity and detail is very impressive!

For those who are reading this thread that DON'T have a 500mm, not to worry!! You can still catch some great shots with a 300mm prime.... on a apc cmos sensor.



Imagemaster
Registered: Feb 23, 2004
Total Posts: 34983
Country: Canada

burtcg wrote:
+ +
LD14 is the best place in the US to photograph Bald Eagles!


Despite repeating yourself, I guess you forgot about Alaska.



itchhhh
Registered: Jan 31, 2012
Total Posts: 68
Country: United States

I would be curious to know how LD14 compares to Conowingo Dam in Maryland? I've seen some shots from that area that seem to be as equally close as LD14. I also think their season is longer that LE Clair?



kkennardis
Registered: Jan 08, 2008
Total Posts: 567
Country: United States

Thank hou for all of the information everyone. Great shot Todd i hope to be able able o capture something , that good.
It looks L&d 14 is the place to be. From looking at the satelite images i assume that you can go out on lighthouse lane which takes you right out on the water correct?
Anyone recommend any good.places to stay out there? Im coming from southwest ohio.

Ken



itchhhh
Registered: Jan 31, 2012
Total Posts: 68
Country: United States

You're on the wrong side of the river if you go to Lighthouse Lane!! Copy and paste these GPS coordianates into Google maps to see where you need to stand.

41.573455,-90.406022



Kenneth Farver
Registered: Nov 06, 2006
Total Posts: 1024
Country: United States

Great shot Todd



BNJarrett
Registered: Jan 27, 2011
Total Posts: 644
Country: United States

There is a comfort suites, super 8 and a holiday inn express all together 2 miles north of L&D 14



SteveJa
Registered: Nov 17, 2010
Total Posts: 22
Country: United States

I stay at the Super 8 in Le Claire everytime..... and it is just that.... nothing special. Not sure how long you will be staying, but you might look at staying in Davenport as I think you could fine a room a little cheaper... and over a few days it can add up.



BNJarrett
Registered: Jan 27, 2011
Total Posts: 644
Country: United States

Harsha wrote a great blog about the magic that is L&D 14. He posted this link in a different thread. Thought it was fitting to post here too!

http://harshajphotos.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/photographing-bald-eagles-lock-and-dam-14-mississippi-river-2013/



kkennardis
Registered: Jan 08, 2008
Total Posts: 567
Country: United States

Everyone, thanks again for providing so much valuable information. I am very excited to finaly make it out to the Northern mississippi valley to photograph the eagles. I have been wanting to do this for several years now.
I just read Harsha's blog and I had been wondering the best time of the day to shoot.

Ken



USM IS
Registered: Apr 12, 2010
Total Posts: 1249
Country: United States

You will be facing east, I usually try for 11-half hour before dark. The light gets real good about 2. You will be amazed how the big muddy can get to look the purdiest blue. Shots over your head and a little back can get some sweet golden light. When looking straight out from boardwalk you will get best light shooting angles of one o'clock from the slightly right to eight thirty far left. Make any sense?

Mike



kkennardis
Registered: Jan 08, 2008
Total Posts: 567
Country: United States

That is very helpful thank you. I would have thought the morning light and evening light would have been best. I sure would have been wrong if it weren't for the help from my FM friends.



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