The best shot I never got…

or why you should take these few extra steps before heading out for the day.

blue heron in flight
“a blue heron in flight…with reflection and shadow”

 

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.

Lewis Hine

There are some images that will be forever burned into my memory and at the top of that list is one particular bald eagle shot.

I always tell people to carry their camera with them at all times because the one time that you don’t, will be the time that you will wish that you had. Of course this was back when I thought that just having my camera with me would be enough!

The bald eagle in addition to being our national bird is the only eagle unique to North America. They weigh between 10 to 14 pounds and have a wing span of 6 to 7 feet which can only be fully appreciated when one is at eye level with one such bird…and that is exactly what happened one summer morning as I was driving down the road only moments from home in the Idaho countryside.

At least one camera and an assortment of lenses are always with me in my daily travels and I truly do feel quite naked without them. They reside in a large ‘handbag’ of sorts that doesn’t scream ‘I’m a camera bag!’ The day after the best shot I never got, I started a new ritual so that maybe another time this image would be in a printable format instead of just indelibly lodged in my brain. My camera now sits on the seat beside me, the lens cap is off, and I have set it manually. I’ve taken a test shot and adjusted for light conditions. I’ve set it for a shooting speed that will capture action. Only then do I feel that I have done all that I can do to prepare for that once in a lifetime shot.

On this morning though my camera was residing in its bag on the seat beside me and as I crested the hill I came eye to eye and within 20 feet of a bald eagle who had a roadkill deer carcass lifted about 3 feet off the ground. He was struggling mightily with the load and you could almost feel the power coming from the downward beat of his wings. Not taking my eyes off of him I reached my hand into my bag and began drawing out my camera and just like that he was gone. I’ll never know if it was the weight of the carcass or my presence that caused him to abort but I do know that if this had happened today, you’d be looking at the shot instead of hearing me tell you about it.

We all have time to play with adjustments on the stationary landscape or scenery shots but these action packed moments are the ones that we need to be prepared for…those times when you get one shot, maybe even through the windshield, but you get one shot. If there is a next time, I’ll be ready will you?

 

2 thoughts on “The best shot I never got…”

  1. Probably not……. For starters, I would not have the correct settings! That is a great story, and your mental ‘capture’ is as good as a digital one. The important thing was being there – the rest, you can’t take with you anyway.

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