Amateur wildlife photographer Steve Biro has been photographing birds for the past 10 years. Intrigued by their behavior and pushed by his love for the outdoors, Biro spends hours each week honing his craft. On a recent trip to the Canadian Raptor Conservancy in Ontario, an interaction with a feisty Bald Eagle resulted in a photo that’s been causing a sensation online.
Biro’s stunning photograph of Bruce the Bald Eagle gliding across the water, wings spread wide, is brought to another level due to the perfectly symmetrical composition. While the eagle stares dead on at the camera, his entire body is reflected in the calm waters below him. The tips of his feathers touch the surface, making a complete circle of body and reflection.
In just one frame, Biro has captured the power of the Bald Eagle and demonstrated his own technical skills in obtaining such a sharp, well-executed photo. Bruce, who is a photographer’s favorite at the Conservancy, is so perfectly poised that it’s as though he’s working in tandem with Biro to ensure that his best angle is captured.
We had a chance to chat with Biro about how the viral photograph happened, what he loves about photographing birds, and his next steps. Read on for our exclusive interview.
Can you tell us about your background in photography?
I started photography roughly 10 years ago, deciding it would complement my love for the outdoors, traveling, and hiking. I took a series of basic courses with a local photographer and very quickly took a serious interest and started learning more as time went on. I’m very prolific, normally shooting about 2,000 per week on average.
I believe my skills have improved greatly just from getting out there and shooting and trying to find unique perspectives. A huge part of what drives me is when people say how much joy my images bring them almost daily because they don’t have the ability to travel and see the things I’m very fortunate to see. Others enjoy my local images as well because many can’t even get out of the house much. It’s heartwarming when someone tells me I’ve brightened their day or stirred fond memories for them.
What is it about birds that inspire you as a photographer?
Birds are wonderful to observe and are always so animated, you learn so much about birds and animals just by photographing them. I could sit all day and watch birds while trying to capture fleeting moments. I love how colorful they are and how they interact with each other—it’s so fascinating. The challenge of getting great bird images is also part of the attraction!
When you’re photographing birds, what aspects of the animal are you trying to highlight?
For me, the eyes are almost always what I want to be in focus, and capturing birds in flight or catching prey is always exciting. But it’s also the unique shots that I strive for, like a duck looking in a puddle or a squabble between species or a baby goose running to its mother or tucking under her wings.
What’s your biggest challenge with bird photography?
The biggest challenge is catching birds in flight while getting their eyes in sharp as well, freezing the motion is also a challenge requiring fast shutter speeds and proper conditions.
What equipment do you use?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and normally for birds a Tamron 150-600mm lens which gives me great range. Bruce the Eagle was shot with a Canon 100mm L Macro as I didn’t want to keep chopping off his wings. I also have several wider angle lenses for landscape, portrait, and nature photography.
Let’s talk about your incredible photo of the bald eagle reflecting in the water. Can you describe that day and what was happening when the photo was taken?
As you might know, this image was shot at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy in Ontario. I had been there the year prior and had shot this handsome Eagle last year as well. The Eagle’s name is Bruce and he’s really amazing and fairly well behaved but also has a mind of his own too, sometimes squawking and mingling with the photographers.
When they brought him out again this year, I was so excited as the water was fairly calm and knew I might get a decent reflection. I snapped several images from the side and decided I wanted to get a vantage point where I might be able to shoot him more straight on. There was a large rock right at the water’s edge where I crouched down beside and rested my upper body on at times trying to get as low as possible. I love getting reflections from a low vantage point and hoped to get a couple of decent pics of Bruce.
(continued) He flew across the pond several times and was not happy where I was, which turned out good for me as he was staring right at me quite a bit! He also was flying close enough to my head for me to feel the breeze from his wings but I was determined to keep shooting.
I decided to move off the rock and get a few shots of him landing from further back and on his next flight he landed right on the rock I was perched on, looking straight at me as if to say, “This is my turf buddy, back off!”
Did you know right away that you had something special?
I definitely rank it as my top image and did not know when I shot it how it had turned out. It was only later when I went through my images and cropped in closer on him did I realize how fantastic it looked with him squared off perfectly and staring daggers at me.
How has it felt to have your photograph go viral?
To be honest, the response has been completely overwhelming and unexpected. I knew the image was good but it just seems to strike a chord and resonate with so many people. I’m humbled and thankful by all the love, comments and likes given. It’s very rewarding and exhilarating after so many thousands of hours in the field shooting to have an image go viral worldwide.
My next steps are to get a website up and running and set it up so I can take orders for prints and showcase some of my art. I’ll also keep traveling and shooting and posting to share what I see with the rest of the world.