Nothing could have excited this Michigander more on a winter’s day photo excursion on M-22 than experiencing this eagle flying by so close that my 500-millimeter telephoto lens could seemingly reach out and touch it. The mature eagle was among several hunting for food on a January morning near Crystal Lake north of Frankfort. Brad and I were en route to photograph the Point Betsie Lighthouse when we spotted several eagles feeding just offshore by a large open-water seam in the ice. We saw one of the eagles fly to shore and roost in some tall pines on a nearby hillside. The lighthouse could wait; there might be an image here as good or better for the book we had started shooting, Todd and Brad Reed’s Michigan: Wednesdays in the Mitten. We would be proved correct. We quickly set up 25 yards on either side of the flight path and waited…and waited. I was rewarded with my all-time favorite eagle-in-flight image when one of the eagles chose to fly right by my hiding spot instead of Brad’s. The image was (and remains especially) meaningful to me because my Army Ranger son Tad served our country for several years as a 101st Airborne Screaming Eagle. This eagle was definitely screaming past. Once I got on target, I was able to squeeze off three shots as I swung the lens on my gimbal tripod head and tracked with the majestic bird. With fast action shots, a photographer can often pre-select the background; but often, time does not allow one to see at the fraction of a second of exposure exactly how the subject fits against the background. Back the next day on my computer at our gallery, this image screamed for attention and selection. The bird fit perfectly against the background, simplifying and making order out of what would have been chaotic one one-thousandth of a second earlier or later. Brad and I like to say, “Little things are big things.” On this shot, a fraction of a second made a big difference

Majestic Michigander

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