The Lake Project: Come Prepared-Dex

The last time I went to the lake, I learned an important lesson on the necessity of coming prepared whenever you are trying to take pictures of wildlife. Animals generally don’t want you to be anywhere near them, so, if they see you, you generally only have a few moments to capture an image before they are gone.

When I went down to the lake the week before Thanksgiving break, I decided not to put my camera together and get it out until I was down on the dock. It is quite weighty around my neck and I did not want to carry it all the way down like I normally did. As I approached the lake house, I saw across the water a large white spot. I thought it was a goose, considering the large swathe of white feathers on their stomach, and proceeded to walk down as normal.

But, as I got to the corner of the lake house, the whole white spot quickly turned around. In that moment, I realized I wasn’t looking at a Canadian goose, but instead a huge bald eagle that was resting on a piece of driftwood. Quickly, I swung my backpack off my shoulders and crouched down putting my camera together while trying to hide behind the house without losing my view of the eagle.

Before I could finish placing the lens on my camera, the eagle flapped its wings and swooped low across the water for a solid hundred feet or so, and then soared up into the air, circled for about five seconds, and then flew away around the bend next to the dam. It was the perfect opportunity for a shot and I missed it by a couple of seconds. I would always walk to the lake with my camera up and ready, and the one time I got lazy, something amazing happened. While I did not get to take the photo of the eagle, it was still an astounding site to see such a rare and elusive bird.

While at my house over break a few days later, my mom shouted out that there was a hawk sitting on our chicken coop trying to figure out a way to get in. I ran upstairs to get my camera and put the lens on, but, as soon as I returned, I watched the hawk fly away. This strengthened by resolve to get a photo of it and make sure I would be prepared next time. So, I kept my camera in the living room underneath the couch with ample view of the chicken coop, and sure enough, it paid off to have it that close.

Two days later, the hawk was back, and this time I was ready. I grabbed my camera and quickly (but quietly) headed outside and started walking towards it slowly to get as close as I could. And, I snapped this picture. I consider it one of the best photos I have taken of any bird to date.


A Cooper’s Hawk in my backyard. Sadly, I could not upload the cropped version to this page. which is far better because it removes the distracting tree branch background.

After missing the opportunity to photograph a bald eagle, and later having my preparedness pay off with this photo, I know for the future that I will always be completely prepared before I go anywhere. I cannot let another moment slip through my hands.

Thanks for reading,


2 thoughts on “The Lake Project: Come Prepared-Dex

  1. margaretjhaviland

    Dex, I could make a comment about Boy Scouts and being prepared, but that feels too obvious. What photos did you get on your trip to the lake when you didn’t get the Bald Eagle? Was it a double failure because you didn’t get the eagle or anything else? Have you gotten a good shot of a Green Heron? Are there things more dependable than birds to photograph? What about grubs, worms, newts, snails?

  2. kevinwang11

    Hey Dex, I agree with you on being prepared in photography. Similar to you, I learnt my lesson when I was trying to capture a moment at my primary school’s commencement ceremony. Usually, I would keep my 400D powered on the whole time when taking photos. Maybe because I was too lazy to get my replacement battery, I turned off the camera to conserve its battery life. The moment the head principal handed my best friend his diploma, I reached for my camera and found out that it was powered off. Just like that, I let that once in a life time moment slip.

    To some extent, photography is about capturing these moment, many of which happen only once in a lifetime. Of course, getting the camera is a must; letting go is also important. Thinking about my primary school commencement ceremony and the shot I missed, I feel that being present at the ceremony to witness my friend receiving his diploma is good enough.


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