Thomas Morel nominert til Hasselblad Master

Øyeblikkets Mester

Få fanger øyeblikket slik fotograf Thomas Morel gjør. I år er han blandt de nominerte til Hasselblad Master med sitt bilde av en American Bald Eagle, det samme bildet som pryder Interfotos katalog.

bald eagle

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The American Bald Eagle
In an age where digital manipulation is so commonplace it’s easy to assume that the most dramatic pictures have been contrived in some way, and that what you’re looking at isn’t reality but a mock up created in postproduction. I have always tried to rebel against that in my work, and I make a point of trying to capture moments that you think must be unreal and that you cannot see with your eyes in-camera, with no manipulation involved at all.

To do this I often have to take on the role of a director rather than a spectator, making things happen in front of my camera but still honouring reality. In this case I was determined to capture the moment when a Bald Eagle swooped to pick a fish out of the water, and I knew that the only way I would be able to get the bird to do what I wanted in the perfect position just 45cm in front of my camera was to get involved. 

I had watched the Eagle fishing before so I knew the bird’s routine. Usually it would fly in low towards its prey and would scoop it up just by lowering its claws into the water while flying by. An amazing thing to witness, but aesthetically it was all a little too dynamic to work in a still photograph: I prefer to look for ‘compact’ action, where everything is taking place in a much more confined space, and to encourage this to happen I had to manipulate the situation so that the bird would dive into a pre-determined place that was just in front of my camera. I did this by having a fish to hand that I could throw into the water to attract the bird’s attention when I knew it was on a hunting mission.

Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, and for things to work I needed to be aware of the Eagle’s hunting pattern, and wait for the right moment when it was flying as high as possible and then throw my fish into the pre-determined spot. It all worked out just as I had hoped: the Eagle was so fixated on its prey that he had to dive almost vertically at the fish, resulting in exactly the moment of high action that I’d been waiting for. In fact he dived into the water with such intensity that he couldn’t actually take off afterwards, and after floundering around in the water for a while he had to make his way to the shore and to dry land before he could fly away. It was a really strange experience out there on that lake, helping an eagle swim to shore.

I had only one chance for this picture, just one shot, before the Eagle understood that I was playing with him, and after that there was no tempting him to repeat the action. The only reason I was able to capture this picture was the fact that I was 100% prepared for the moment, and it’s a little piece of reality that looks almost too good to be true.

-Thomas Morel

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