Posts Tagged ‘John Delaney’

The Golden Eagles of Kazakhstan

January 16, 2010

The Altay Mountains from space

We complain from time to time about bird photography. So much of it looks like all the rest. Apparently the idea is to get a big telephoto lens, go outdoors, get as far away from the bird as you can, and snap a photo. In such photos, the bird is sharply focused and everything else is a blur. That is not the photographers’ fault either, the laws of physics allow nothing else. Due to the way light behaves as it passes through each successive layer of glass in telephoto lenses, the depth-of-field is so shallow that only things a precise distance from the lens can be in focus. Large telephoto lenses make composition more difficult too which is why, in most such photos, the bird is squarely in the middle of the frame, creating rather static compositions. The equipment limits what the photographer can do.

And, of course, you hardly ever see black and white photos of birds.

Photograph by John Delaney from his portfolio "Interior Exposures"

Which are reasons why photographer John Delaney’s new portfolio of photos of Kazakhs and their tame Golden Eagles refreshes.

According to Delaney, no one knows how long ago the Kazakhs began taming and hunting with Golden Eagles but it was a long time ago. Herodotus mentioned it in the 5th Century B.C.E., Marco Polo probably saw them in action, and Genghis Khan may have had as many as 5,000 “eagle riders” riding with him.

Many of the photos, like the one above, are technically portraits of Kazakhs holding their birds, but they are portraits of the eagles too. But two include landscapes of Kazakhstan, including my personal favorite, “Silent Watcher.”

We accept gifts here at the Fat Finch and a print of “Silent Watcher” is only $1,000.00. We’ll take care of the framing and send you a nice thank you note.

The photographs are for sale through and here is a link to the book which you can scroll through on your computer. “Silent Watcher” is the last photograph. We recommend a few minutes browsing. You’ll get a glimpse of a different culture and come away refreshed.


The MODIS satellite photo from NASA above includes the Altay Mountains which form the borders of Kazakhstan (left), Russia (top), Mongolia (right) and China (bottom). According to NASA’s caption, “In the north, the mountains are covered with deep green forest and capped with snow above the tree line. The mountains form a natural barrier between the four nations and between several different climate regions. Steppes, tundra, forest, and desert surround the mountains. Melting snow flows off the mountains into rivers, which feed several of the large lakes visible throughout the image. A web of green irrigated crop land surrounds many of the lakes, particularly in China and Kazakhstan.” The Kazakhs, a nomadic people, once roamed through much of the area in the photograph. Click on the photo for a larger version.

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