There are times when I know what I'm doing, I'm happy and everything seems to be be going perfectly... and then I hit a wall and everything just stops. After an experience this weekend I have decided to name refer to this phenomenon as "filling the buffer".
Long after I had settled in to a session up at the dam an eagle had made an approach a bit closer than I expected, the angle was good but I was thinking maybe a bit more light than I expected and before I had time to adjust it dove and started a run. So my mind stopped thinking of adjusting the settings and everything I had went into locking focus and tracking the eagle. This shot out of the sequence has the eagle perfectly lined up and positioned for the catch, eyes and talons set, legs reaching forward, tail feathers kissing the water and wings ready to regain balance and carry away the prize... this was the shot I wanted...
and as the shutter kept going for the carry suddenly the eagle glanced upwards and at the same moment I had this awful feeling... the frame rate dropped because I had filled the buffer and instead of shooting at 7 frames per second I was down to 1 every two seconds... (bigger versions)
Now in the air an eagle can roll over and defend with it's claws but too close to the water and there is just no escape. As the roll started, the attacking eagle slammed into it's back sending the fish flying to the side and the eagle almost completely under the water.
Moments later it regained it's composure but remained for a bit just floating, half stunned and half confused. (I really wish I would have gotten those shots of the collision)
Happily it didn't suffer any permanent damage and was able to lift off again (this was the first time I saw an eagle float and also the first time I've seen one lift off from the water - It's an amazing amount of power they use - the wings stretched out almost completely and the both wings and the tail thrust down hard lifting the body up a few times before there was enough effective lift.
I got the shot I wanted (and the eagle got it's fish) but I ended up missing something unexpected because I kept my finger on the trigger a bit too long and saturated the buffer... I guess the moral here is not to be so wrapped up and focused in what you are doing that you find yourself in a situation you lack the resources to get out of... whether it's time, money, camera buffer space or altitude - always always always leave room for the unexpected future that may be there in but a moment.