Photo Tip ~ Learning From Eagle Luck

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have several favorite quotes. Such as…

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”


“If you want to make better photos, put yourself in front of more interesting things.”

I think this particular experience qualifies for both of these quotes.

Let me tell you what happened.

I was cruising down the Oregon coast 101, stopping and photographing at nearly every available pull-off and many places where there was no official pull-off. Rental cars are a great thing. The four-hour route expanded to over seven hours and I was getting weary. The little town that had a bed reserved in my name was ahead and I was longing for a break. My mind was wandering to the idea of that big bed to sprawl out on and just stop moving for an hour or so.

The hotel was in sight just as my phone rang. It was my lifelong best friend (since kindergarten) checking in. With him on the phone and the connection clear, I decided to cruise through town to see what was on the other side.

[This is the exact, overly repeated, practice that will put 2,400+ miles on a rental car in just over a week.] πŸ™‚

It was in that moment of passing the hotel and not stopping, that the opportunity for the lucky eagle shot took wings. [like that pun?] If I had pulled in and sat down, I would have never known that bird was just down the road waiting. This fact echoing in my head will probably haunt me forever and cause me to add thousands of needless miles to every vehicle I own for the rest of my life. LOL…no, seriously πŸ˜‰

I think the conversation went like this, “dude, there’s an eagle right by the road. I gotta call you…(click)”. I slammed the car in park and simultaneously popped the trunk. My camera was sporting a 70-200mm lens, but this was serious, I needed the big gun, but it was cased. No matter, zippers flew, covers ripped off and were thrown to the side and my 200-400mm, f/4 was ready for business.


Walking back to where the eagle was visible, my mind raced through the scenarios. The bird could be gone, I might scare it away, or maybe, just maybe it would still be there. It was still there! The distance was still far, but I shot anyway, a skill I’ve taught my son. At least you’ll have some shot, maybe not the best, but it will be something. Keep shooting as you slowly approach.


I moved closer and in better position, all without the eagle reacting to me. I’m sure he saw me, but for some reason he wasn’t interested. The reason became apparent as ravens suddenly darted through my viewfinder. Someone was in the others territory and there was a turf war about to go down. He stayed firm in his perch and challenged each courageous pass. My adrenaline was coursing and I knew the scene was going to look good in pixels. Like so many things if life, I just needed to maintain focus, literally. Focus on that eagle and move slightly around left and right to frame the ravens as they screamed in and out.


So the lessons learned from this episode:

  • have your gear ready at all times
  • know your gear, so there’s no fiddling when you need to be shooting
  • be patient, and observe
  • drive the extra mile
  • believe in and be ready for luck
  • have a friend that can call you half a mile from the next perched eagle

The eagle, who I was naturally pulling for, did eventually give up his perch and fly off. Surprisingly, the birds never seemed to actually touch each other during all that ruckus.

By the way, this is the second eagle incident involving my friend. He was present for the other one, not just on the phone. Β However, the experiences all seem to balance out in the long run. When he comes to visit, my computer seems to malfunction in very odd mysterious ways. This is true, I have no idea why. Hm? I think I’ll take some awesome eagle images for a few software updates, any day of the week. Thanks for calling. πŸ™‚