World's Best Raptors 2016 Trip Report

By Perry Conway on Dec 01, 2016

From its start in October of 1991 to this October of 2016, the “World’s Best Raptor Shoot” has matured, getting better and better throughout its 25-year history.  The shoot is truly an unparalleled photo opportunity for perched and flying hawks, owls, eagles and falcons.  Please check out the accompanying slide show to see what I’m talking about.  Bear in mind that all of the digital captures were taken with a Canon 100-400mm zoom lens and various Canon bodies.
One of my main objectives is to have at least half of the birds trained for flight shots.  This year we had 10 out of the 17 species flying.  In addition, I pay very close attention to several other parameters which really help to make the shoot “work.”

Lighting: We begin shooting before sunrise and stop when the light becomes harsh, usually around 10:00 AM.  In the afternoons, we start between 3:30 PM and 4:00 PM and go as long as the light lasts. 

Subjects: I simply will not use a bird that is not attractive and not well trained.  Several of our flying birds will give you so many opportunities for amazing flight shots you might even stop shooting and say, ”Wow…I think I have it!”  Others, like the falcons, will test your ability to follow focus.  However, with today’s digital cameras, even images of the world’s fastest animals in flight are totally possible.
Backgrounds: With a raptor biology background, I understand where the various species are apt to be found and try to place them in their correct natural settings.  I also use private lands in Colorado with great mountain, prairie, rock or lake backdrops.
Once again, check out the slide show for examples of all four of the above parameters.  To have these avian athletes performing right in front of you—with great light and beautiful backdrops—really does allow this shoot to live up to its name!  You, too, can have the opportunity to capture comparable images.  Come and see for yourself.