Expect the Unexpected
It was a dark, rainy day as an extraordinary scene appeared a short distance away. I had been taking my dog for a playful walk on the beach. It is an off-leash beach, but with all of the eagles, hawks and other large birds above us that day, I put him back on the leash. It was a great walk either way and the time came too soon to head home.
As I got to my car, I noticed a couple eagles landing on a tree branch a short distance away. Hurrying to get my dog off the leash and into the car, I watched and heard the beginnings of a photographic moment unfold.
Realizing the Shot is There
I have taken quite a few eagle shots and sometimes prefer to sit and watch rather than shooting. This time as I watched, I pointed the eagles to people I met on my walk.
The birds were just high enough that it was not immediately obvious what they were doing. Hanging over a branch we could barely make out the shine of the skin of a fish. The birds suddenly started arguing. Other birds were flying closer, but kept their distance. Things were quickly getting interesting.
Standing by my car, getting the wet, sandy dog onto the seat away from my gear, I had a few camera options and a quick decision to make. The scene was rapidly unfolding.
I had my waterproof Olympus TG-4, more appropriate for a wide shot rather than a zoom. It would give me a clear shot, but not the type of information I wanted. Then there was the 645 film camera. The lens does not extend quite far enough and might get ruined in the rain. Then there was the Nikon Coolpix P900. In good light it picks up the most amazing detail, but there was not much light though and I have not used enough in these conditions. Lastly, there was the Canon Powershot SX60 HS. It has a nice range of zoom options, a quick focus and feels lightweight.
I chose the camera I could most trust to zoom in the quickest and get the clearest image. I grabbed my Canon Powershot SX60 HS. It is smaller than the Nikon, making it easier to keep dry and having used it far more, the results are more predictable.
The woman and her son stood nearby, watching with me. They quietly talked. As I got my camera turned on and ready, through their conversation I could hear what the eagles were doing.
None of us expected what happened next. The eagle who arrived late on the branch suddenly lunged for the fish. Trying hard to calm my excitement, I steadied the camera and pushed the shutter. Both eagles grabbed the fish, fell off the branch and flew towards the water, wings hooked together. The fish dropped out of their talons. I pushed the shutter again, getting a shot of their empty talons. In a few heartbeats, the majestic birds and the fish were a few hundred yards in the distance, our view now obstructed.
Waiting Just in Case
Sometimes there is more. Even if there is not, why not learn all that you can. Watch. See what happens next. Be curious. It will help you not only be a better photographer, it will help you connect with life more.
This time around I was able to get a couple more shots as the one eagle flew away while the other stayed put. The blurred images were a blur, but still have value to me though. They teach me more about the scene. They remind me what took place. They complete the story.
The One That Got Away
I had a chance to talk with the woman and young man after the eagles left. I overheard him say to her, "Mom, that is why you should take your camera with you wherever you go." It is something I have heard people say so often and he said it with such kindness and support. I can think of a thousand reasons why she does not take one with her. I have used most of all of them myself. No regrets. It was not until I was ready that I started carrying the camera everywhere I go. No regrets.
Wrapping It Up
As I drove away from the beach, while looking at the surrounding beauty, I soaked in the memory of what has taken place. I then considered what I did well and what I would do differently were I to be able to do it again. Would I have chosen a different camera, one that was there in the car or perhaps one that was not with me? Would I have recorded and created a video instead of taking still shots? Did the settings I chose give me the best images? Would it have been possible to use two cameras? Do I need to purchase rain protective covers for my equipment? Then I let it all go and took in my surroundings.
All in all, the fact is, I plan to take a great shot, one to proudly share with others. But if even if the shot misses the mark, I still experienced a most amazing moment.