Portrait of an American Bald Eagle

Today’s post is about Raptors, or more specifically, about Raptor Photography at the Carolina Raptor Center.

Raptor Photography is all about predators, strong, fearsome and solitary hunters.  For wildlife photographers interested in this specialty, the Carolina Raptor Center is heaven on earth. They host two events each year, one in the spring, another in the fall, usually October.  They two events each year, one in the spring, another in the fall, usually October.

These “Photo Wild” events are for photographers only. Amateurs and well as pros are welcome to come, but there are limited spaces. On these weekend events, the facility is shut down for the regular visitors, and photographers rule. The events are always on a weekend, and you can come on Saturday or Sunday, or both. Photography gets started around 8:00 in the morning and goes until about noon. The last hour or so also includes some flying events, where the better trained birds fly between two perches.

Having that in a controlled environment allows us amateurs to get some practice and develop our skills so that we’ll at least have a clue if we ever get a chance for a magic shot out in the wilderness.

The handlers bring out various birds for about 30 minutes each. There are several different setups. Some of the setups are tree limbs, but others include stumps, rocks and fences. No wires or chain link to destroy your image.

The staff is quite easy going and will try to accommodate everyone. They do their best to let you get good angles, within reason. No getting to within 12 inches and blasting the bird with a flash. Since it’s a free for all, with the photographers, a good bit of the experience depends on courtesy. I’ve been on 4 different occasions and every time the other photographers were very open and sharing, pretty much zero hogging of the better positions.

You’ll see a lot of long lenses and expensive cameras. Since you can get close without any problems, it’s possible to get great shots even with typical amateur gear. Two shots in this gallery were taken with an old Olympus 10 megapixel camera and the original Olympus 50-200mm lens. Can you tell which ones?

These Carolina Raptor Center “Photo Wild” events come highly recommended. The Center is a non-profit that rescues and rehabilitates injured Raptors. Every year they release the current crop of eagles back into the wild. So your fees are put to good use. I went to my first Photo Wild when I was getting started with wildlife photography. That chance to get close up shots that amaze your friends and family has a big impact. What price can you put on inspiration?

My favorite shots from the Carolina Raptor Center are in the new Raptor Gallery, link below…

Raptor Gallery

Quote of the Day
“Don’t quack like a duck, soar like an eagle.”

Ken Blanchard


Carolina Raptor Center