Bald Eagle at Conowingo Dam, Maryland
Ok this was honestly a scary moment for me as I was invited by my best friends to join them on the bald eagle photography trip to Maryland on an early Saturday morning. I knew my lens (Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto) wasn't gonna cut it for distant shots, so I ended up renting some gear from BorrowLenses.com and hit the road. The weather at Conowingo Dam was not as bad as it was in NJ that morning, but it was quite cloudy for the most part and exremely cold. Without knowing much about bald eagles and their habits, we setup the gear, started spotting and shooting. More than anything, it was quite fun to go out with friends after a really long time as I have been doing a lot of solo photography lately.
As we got outselves setup, I looked down the road and saw a dozen other photographers with cameras attached to lenses that looked like tanks. I am not kidding, those lenses are HUGE, HEAVY and pretty intimidating. I thought I had rented a big lens as I had the Canon 400mm USM, but those guys out there had lenses that could probably let the photographers see the fins of the fish these eagles were carrying half a mile away. See when it comes to photography and photography equipment, the amount of money these high end lenses cost are HUGE (easily between $5000 - 10,000 for each lens). Now you know that everyone wants to save their money, so the only reason someone goes and buys the expensive equipment is because the cheaper ones just don't cut it.
So already intimidated with others, I started to shoot and soon realized besides all the fancy gadgets and equipment, one of the thing that one needs most is patience, and other is luck. I saw many photographers come and go between good opportunities to shoot, while some others had gone to their car to thaw :) and some others were just not there during those exact minutes when you see an eagle catch a fish and fly out to enjoy it's meal. Luckily my friends are super focused also, so we didn't waste a minute and kept looking and as soon as someone saw action, they told the rest of us so we all could be on top of it.
Overall a great experience, good time with friends, not the best pictures, but for first time I am happy with what I got, and next time when we go, I will pick my gear by keeping the weather, distance, and lighting in mind. Since I went there two days in a row (as I wasn't happy with what I captured the first day), I got to make some new friends and meet some famous photographers, who not only shared their experiences but also gave some really valuable tips that would go a long way.
Some other pictures from the shoot: