Probably one of the worst compliments you can give a wildlife photographer is, "Wow; what a lucky shot"! After all, we spend every dime we have buying camera gear and wake up between 4 and 5 everyday to get out before sunrise in search of the million dollar photo. I have climbed trees, spent hours lying on a boulder in the hot sun, low-crawled along beaches and been bitten by swarms of every bug imaginable in my photographic lunacy. Those lucky shots take a lot of preparation! The morning I captured this Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle, I was walking my two Siberian Huskies and had my camera in a holster, slung from my shoulder. Before leaving my yard, I make it a habit of checking the lighting conditions and set my ISO, shutter speed and aperture, just in case a quick photo opportunity pops up before I reach my destination. My lens will be set in Auto Focus Mode, but everything else is in Manual Mode. The Eagle, I spotted just as I was leaving the city limits and he was in a tree across the highway from me. I quickly tied the dogs to a chain link fencepost and pulled out the camera, zooming in on the bird. He was in the shade and I slowed my shutter speed while focusing.Suddenly, the bird took-off and flew towards a parking lot, right in front of me! While panning the camera, firing in Burst Mode and trying to keep the little Red Dot of Auto Focus on his eye, I saw the sun light-up the yellow of his eye, just as it hit sunlight. I knew instantly, I had at least one good photo, even if 4 or 5 others were worthless.
This photo was taken with my Pentax zoomed at 250mm f/6.3 with a shutter of 1/400sec and ISO 100. The bird is a migratory visitor to Okinawa about 5 months out of the year. It is home based in Korea Northern China and Russia and this photo was requested for posting by Oriental Bird Images when someone saw I had posted it on another website. The Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle is an endangered species and this particular bird was colored like none the bird experts had ever seen. So, I guess it really was a LUCKY SHOT! Until next time, happy shooting!
A wildlife photographer livning in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been featured in Matador Abroad and is published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, The Nihon Sun and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.