Eagles landing on a deadhead on the Skagit River Washington
Life Lessons, Photography

Standing in the Middle of a Bridge

Last weekend, I found myself once again standing in the middle of a bridge at dawn.  My youngest sister was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and I took her up to see the Eagles on the Skagit river.  There was a brief misunderstanding wherein she thought we were going to see Joe Walsh at sunset and not “Bald” at sunrise but we recovered quickly and were on our way long before dawn. I did some research and found a good location over the river.   The safe walkway was on the west side of the bridge putting the road way between me and the eagles fishing on the Skagit river.  There were four of them when we arrived.  The eagles were screeching wildly as they swooped and soared over the water, landing precariously on the overhanging branches.  Through the early morning fog, I could see the flashes of white from their heads and tails as they raced by.  Their yellow talons extended as they reached a perch or homed in on a steelhead.  I am always anxious when I first arrive where I am shooting especially if the action is already underway.  I feel like I am missing something.  I want to get set up as soon as possible and find the perfect vantage point.  As I was searching the scene, I was awed by the power and beauty of these birds.  I thought about going all of the way across the bridge and shooting back toward the north shore, but I could see they favored the south shore when perching and fishing.  I considered crossing the bridge but it was foggy and I thought that might increase the probability that I would be photographed later by a crime scene unit while prone in the middle of the road. I nixed that idea pretty quickly.  So, I stayed put. I took out my long lens and started shooting.  The fog was a problem and I am going to be going back when it is less pronounced.  Even though I did not get the shot I wanted, it was amazing to be so close to these birds as they were fishing.

I am trying to get more comfortable standing still half way across the bridge. In this case it was literal but more often it has been metaphorical.  I’ve spent the greater part of my life moving forward generally at high speed.   I have been a very goal oriented person always thinking about and planning for the future. I see obstacles as a challenge.  They might slow me down but they do not deter me.  Giving up is not really in my nature even when the evidence would suggest it would be prudent. This has served me well in so many ways. Perhaps it is just age and wisdom.  Perhaps it is the fact that you cannot really rush art.  I am realizing that I am inspired when I am inspired.  Eagles and elk appear when they appear where they appear even if I schedule it for Saturday morning at 6 am in Concrete, WA.  So more and more, I find myself standing on a bridge – literally and figuratively.  I am standing in the present trying to decide whether I should move forward or retreat. But more and more I stop myself and get comfortable standing still right there in the middle. Though my tendency is to move forward, I am working on being present right where I am – marveling at the eagles screaming by.

DSC_6948hrslogoThe Eagle is Landing
(1/400 sec., f/6.3, 3200 ISO, 600 mm)

Copyright Catherine Matthews 2017.

4 thoughts on “Standing in the Middle of a Bridge”

  1. Oh, I love that your photography challenges you to immerse yourself in an uncontrolled environment! Your amazing photos prove that you’ve found ways to navigate the obstacles that come with the territory.

    Liked by 1 person

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