A Lucky Photo of an Unlucky Duck

I should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Last week, I took advantage of Nikon’s 10% off sale on refurbished gear to get a great deal on their 500mm f/5.6 PF lens. Did I need it? No. But I’ve been lusting over its compact size and light weight since it came out, so finally pulled the trigger and bought one.

Yesterday afternoon I wanted to try it out with my two Nikon teleconverters, the 1.4x and 2x (which would give me 700mm at f/8 and 1000mm at f/11), so headed to a nearby lake to see if I could find some birds.

While sitting there waiting for a cormorant to do something, this happened: an adult bald eagle swooped in a grabbed a ring-necked duck from the water.

I can’t tell you how many miles and hours I put into photographing eagles last year, and this was 20-minutes from my house. Nothing like being lucky!

I was using my Nikon D500 and that lens with the Nikkor TC-14e III teleconverter for this photo, which gave me 700mm of focal length. As usual, I was in Aperture Priority with an ISO of 250, and 1/800 second at f/8 and EV 0.0.

If I’d had any idea I’d be shooting fast action, I would have raised my ISO for a higher shutter speed (the shots of it grabbing the duck from the water were blurred). I guess I’ll have to get the eagle to come back and do it again! Of course, finding another duck to play the same role will probably be more difficult.

About the author: Reed Hoffmann is a professional photographer and photography educator based in Kansas City. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Hoffmann’s career spans 30 years, and his clients have included USA Today, Getty Images, The New York Times, The Associated Press, One Ocean Expeditions, NBC, Children’s Mercy Hospital, EPA, Reuters, Nikon, Lexar, Lowepro, Eco-Challenge, and Mark Burnett Productions. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.