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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

From the Midway: No luck in shooting an eagle

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last month I attended a program hosted by Ginger Walker of the Cherokee County Conservation Department on wildlife photography. The program featured guest speaker, Hugh Perry, a wildlife and outdoor photographer from Storm Lake and a heck of a nice guy.

I decided to attend the program because I'm always open to learn whatever I can to help make myself a better photographer. Plus, when I thought about it, I really never taken many pictures of wildlife and would appreciate the pointers.

Well, during the program Hugh showed us (there were about nine of us in attendance) many of his wonderful photos and gave us a glimpse of what types of camera and lenses that he uses while taking his pictures.

After a short session of answering our questions, Hugh, the rest of the gang and me, headed out for a nature walk throughout Silver Sioux Access. We all had a chance to get some pictures of the local wildlife and some wonderful pictures of the local landscape.

It was a good time all in all.

I left there feeling that there would be one type wildlife picture that I would love to shoot, that being a bald eagle.

Well, to make a short story long, I shrugged off my desire to get a picture of the eagle. I figured that I would probably have to be in the right place at the right time to get a chance to photograph an eagle.

In fact, I set my resolve to the realization that it might be years before I ever have a chance at seeing another bald eagle, let alone having a camera ready so I could shoot a picture of it.

As my luck would have it, I was traveling to Cherokee last Sunday to return a few movies. I was about a mile south of Larrabee when, low and behold, an eagle literally crossed my path. He swooped down ahead of my car and landed in a field to my right. I quickly watched in awe while he landed.

That's when I noticed that he was not the only eagle sitting in the field. About 20 feet from the fence line sat another bald eagle. Here it was, my chance to capture not one but two eagles up close.

I started to slow down and quickly reached for my camera. That's when it dawned on me that I didn't have my camera with me. Now this is hard for me to admit. The first rule of being a good photographer is to have your camera ready at all times. But I was foolish and left my camera at the office. I justified leaving the camera behind because after all it was my day off. And I don't know about you, but there are times when you're off work that you just don't want to think about having to do any work.

So, at this point I thought to myself that if I hurry back to the office and get my camera and quickly drop off my movies and get some gas for my car that the eagle might still be sitting there when I get back.

I did my running around and got to the office and grabbed my camera. At this point, I decided to put fresh batteries into the camera (I didn't want to get back out there and have a dead camera).

Now I was locked and loaded and heading back towards Larrabee and hoping the eagles were still there. As I approached the field were I saw the two birds earlier, my hunch paid off. There was still one bird sitting in the field. He was a little further out than he was before but I figured that I could still get a good picture of him.

I turned my car around so that I could park on the west side of the road so that I could get to the fence line quicker and I knew I had to be quick. If the bird saw me coming he would be off.

So before I left the car I turned on my camera so I wouldn't have to be fiddling around with it and when it came time to take the shot.

But for some reason the camera didn't turn on.

I checked and re-checked and still it was dead.

At this point, I decided to take out the batteries and rearrange them in a vain attempt to get my camera working but sadly that did not work.

Now, I was a little flustered at this point to say the least, and one or two colorful metaphors slipped out of my mouth and I turned to look at the bald eagle and he must have gotten tired of waiting for me to take his picture and he then gracefully lifted off from the ground and started to lift higher and higher into the sky in a spiral ascent.

On refection of why my camera did not work my only conclusion was that may be one of the batteries was not in the charger all the way and so they didn't get charged at all.

The fact that I made the effort to have fresh batteries for the camera to avoid this exact situation was not lost to me.

These types of exercises in futility always make me smile. For this I know - it's proof that there is a higher being in controlling our fate. For all I can do is look up and say, "Good one Lord, you got me again."

I say this because I'm sure that there is someone up there getting a big kick out of all this.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway