Being in the right place at the right time… A lot of times that is the difference between a good picture and a bad picture – or whether or not you even get the shot. This one of those cases. 

Majestic Bird

The bald eagle is a beautiful, powerful, and majestic bird. For that reason, they admired by photographers as a popular subject to shoot. Just watching them soar is a wonderful sight to behold. We are fortunate that every year between lateOctober and January, that a great number return to the Conowingo Dam in Maryland. They come to escape the colder temperatures, and the dam at the SusquehannaRiver provides plenty of fish for them to eat. Along with the return of the eagles, photographers from all over flock to the dam. It is not uncommon to see 20 or more photographers along the fence line at any given time.

Fleeting Action

Abu, of Original Fotografie, and I have visited the dam several times since October, including the day of this capture. On that particular frigid Sunday in November, there wasn’t much in the way of “eagle action”. It’s wildlife photography, so the eagles aren’t aware that they are expected to perform so that we can photograph them. So sometimes they just sit… and sit. But, when the action happens, it happens very quickly. You’re lucky if it happens in front of you. There are times when an eagle comes from behind you. Regardless, you have about 10 seconds of shooting time.

It Was Cold

We had been out there for a few hours. Even though we had hand warmers, it was very cold. Trying to get closer to the dam, we relocated to an empty spot along the fence line – stopping before we reached a tree that would block our view. We had agreed that we were going to spend about another ten minutes at that spot before leaving. During our time at the dam that day, we got a few decent eagle shots. We spent most of time shooting a couple great blue herons. We could have left at that point, being satisfied with those shots. Photography takes a lot of patience. This was a time when being patient paid dividends.

Eagle Has Landed

As we stood talking and keeping our eye on the river for some action, I happened to look to my left to the tree. Just then a juvenile eagle landed on the tree with its fresh catch. We were in the right place at the right time. I told you the action happens fast. We couldn’t believe it! About 10 feet away from us (and only us at that time) we had an exclusive shot. We turned our cameras away from the river into the nearby tree, and we fired off as many shots as we could.

Ten Seconds

By this time the other photographers noticed that we had our lenses pointed towards the tree, signaling that there was something in the tree worth shooting. Several of them came running towards the tree stopping as soon as they were close enough to get a good shot. The eagle then realized how close to people that it had landed. It grabbed the fish in its talons and flew to another tree to our right, this time landing higher.The swarm of photographers followed to the other tree. The tree was close enough for us to get some more shots, but we didn’t shoot any. For about 10 seconds, the two of us had exclusive access to the eagle. We left knowing that we were able to capture the eagle as no one else was able to.

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