Bald Eagle in Winter

Bald Eagle in River Steam

Bald Eagle in River Steam © 2008 Bo Mackison

Taken at Sauk City, Wisconsin – the eagles’ wintering grounds on the Wisconsin River – in bitter cold weather. With the temperatures below zero and the river temperature at 30˙ F, huge clouds of steam were rising from the water’s surface and ice crystals were forming on the nearby tree branches. A single Bald Eagle swooped downstream and landed in this tree across the river from me. I took a few photographs because the eagle was within sight and it would be my last chance to photograph an eagle until next winter.

I nearly deleted all of the photos – they were really bad – but then decided to play around with one of them. I increased the exposure of the dark photo, added a little saturation, and cropped tightly. This is the result – a different look from the sharp photos I like, but the effect seemed to fit the mood. Looks a bit like a painting to me.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I think that picture is a real winner. Like you I like my pictures to be sharp, but sometimes just a suggestion works well, together with the colour it does it for me.


  2. It looks like a painting to me, too. It’s lovely, and you’re right — it captures the mood.

  3. I love how you edited this to make it look like a painting! BRAVO!

  4. byrningbunny says:

    This looks just like a painting! It’s beautiful and so effective.

  5. I like, almost ghost like in feel, captures the mystic of those beautiful birds:)

  6. ladypercy says:

    I love the steam. It looks pretty awesome.

  7. Yep, I seldom delete photos unless they really are utter crap.
    This one almost looks like a painting :)!
    Great 😀

  8. I admire the eagles for wintering in Wisconsin. They obviously are highly intelligent beings.

  9. The more I return to the Eagle, the more fascinating I find the shot. It is misty, haunting & just plain spectacular. In spite of my proclivity to comment on snow (hence some playful comments on your other pix), I find the Eagle in winter inspiring. He or she is surviving in a harsh time and place, and at the same time maintaining majesty & pride.

  10. For the eagle I say the same thing I think about tourists. If you can’t stand our winter you don’t deserve our summer. 🙂 I like this; it looks a bit (to me) like a huddled up old man on a park bench doing the very same thing. Really beautiful shot!

  11. Beautiful feeling connected to this picture. Congratulations!

  12. the simple pictures are best, when you focus on a detail. nice job

  13. I thought for sure it was a painting, and the background seems pastel. And whether it was from manipulation, or already there, the posture of the bird conveys personality. I would hang this on my wall, proudly.

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