Golden eagle likes coffee companion’s pocket camera

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 3, 2008

A golden eagle allowed Bill Hargarten to get within 20 feet with his pocket camera, the same "point-and-shoot" he used for two photos in Doha, Qatar: a sheik's compound and a clock tower at night.
Photos by Bill Hargarten.

Last week’s column on the virtues of small cameras resulted in some great responses from our readers. One from GlenEagles resident Bill Hargarten even came with a photo.

Bill, semi-retired after a rewarding career in law enforcement, currently teaches corrections studies part time at Bow Valley College, Calgary. He is also an avid photographer who has a really nice big camera with a powerful telephoto zoom lens, but has found his shirt-pocket-size camera far more convenient when strolling around Cochrane or travelling overseas.

Last Saturday, for example, he decided to go for a late-afternoon walk along the GlenEagles Drive path near the third fairway of the golf course. My Aug. 27 column, he said, reminded him to slip his small camera into his pocket.

“We had a steady wind and the golden eagles who inhabit the hillside appeared to be enjoying it, using the breeze to hang motionless in the sky or flirt with one another by engaging in aerial acrobatics. The eagle in the attached cropped photo made one circle over my head and made a sudden turn into the wind so it could perch on the fence. It permitted me to get within 20 feet before it effortlessly lifted off the fence and floated downhill into the wind, following the golf-course contours until it found an updraft and went soaring.”

I asked Bill what camera he used for the shot. With his reply he included photos he took two years ago under very different circumstances.

“The camera is an Olympus 720 SW,” he said, “actually, a waterproof pocket camera designed for snorkellers and other outdoors enthusiasts. I'd purchased it when my wife, Carol, and I were living in Doha, Qatar, an Arabian seaport with very high humidity and scorching temperatures – 55 C with 97 per cent humidity – and my bulky super camera simply refused to work in the Arabian climate.”

He illustrated the achievements of his inconspicuous little point-and-shoot camera with two photos he took while sightseeing around Doha. The first was taken through the gate of a sheik’s compound, a black hospitality tent in the mid-ground, and behind that, a breathtaking mosque.

The other photo is an evening shot of a clock tower.

“The pocket camera was able to take the low-light shot because I used the self-timer and set the camera on a traffic bollard to eliminate shake that would have occurred if I'd been holding the camera while making a time exposure,” he said. “The small camera did a big-camera job.”

Well, Bill, I think you did a great job, too. Thanks for sharing.

© 2008 Warren Harbeck

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