I Happen to Know

Unlike Peggy Sue, I can’t say that in the future I happen to know that I won’t have much use for algebra. After all, I’ve used a fair bit of it already.

Not anything complex, you understand, but basic ratios are useful in many applications, from scaling recipes up or down, to adjusting knitting patterns to allow for a different gauge.

But it’s basic geometry that I felt the need of this week. The trouble is more to do with my difficulty estimating distances, though, than any problem with calculating the hypotenuse of a triangle otherwise defined by my unknown distance from shore and the improbable height of three trees. One tree had an eagle’s nest at the top with a juvenile bald eagle sitting up on the edge of it, pondering the wisdom of launching. One had an adult bald eagle partway up. One had an osprey’s nest at the top with a juvenile keeping a sharp lookout for something.

But although I don’t know the distances, in practical terms the answer is, “Too far away for a good shot with the camera I have.”

Juvenile eagle in nest.

Photo on left at max zoom (300 mm lens); photo on right cropped.

Collage of bald eagle in dead tree

Max zoom again, and cropped.

Juvenile osprey in nest

Max zoom, and cropped.

Maybe that’s partly why I get a kick out of the loons. We stop a respectful distance away and they submerge, only to surface closer to the boat. Their apparent unconcern at our presence gives me a chance to get a close shot, at least, even if the bobbing of the boat, the impossibility of getting and staying between the sun and them, and the inherent difficulty of shooting a jet-black and white bird sort of rules out the chance of getting a great shot.

So, instead, I have some fun with it.

Head-on shot of loon.

“You lookin’ at me?”


Pair of loons on surface

“I think you left your glasses back on shore.” “No, they’re down here somewhere, I know it.”


Look with outstretched wings

“I’m the King of the Lake!”

Parting is such sweet sorrow

“It’s time to go our separate ways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sniff.”

Collage of loon drifitng closer and closer . . .

Loons playing Chicken?


Collage of loons with wings outstretched.

“All together now!”

And if the future is anything like the past, I do happen to know that I’ll need my sense of humour.

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10 Responses to I Happen to Know

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – cropping and a sense of humour are way less expensive than a 600mm telephoto lens plus tripod, and they are a lot less heavy to carry through the bush.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – 🙂 True. And a low standard is more easily satisfied!

      • John Whitman says:

        Isabel – are you making fun of my approach to photography or are you coming around to my way of thinking?

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – 🙂 What the editor meant to say was “a sensible standard is more easily satisfied.” We can each decide for ourselves what “sensible” means.

  2. Marilyn Smith says:

    Geometry schmometry! Gorgeous photos of gorgeous birds, Isabel! — Marilyn

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – Many thanks. They are lovely, although the birds of prey are a bit stand-offish.

  3. Perhaps spotting birds of prey that are stand-offish is the desirable alternative? I have heard of fatal attacks on humans even by loons! https://listverse.com/2013/01/03/top-10-birds-most-likely-to-kill-you/

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Hahaha. There are lists of everything, but this will cause me to stay alert while chasing photographs.

  4. Nice images Isabel

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