I miscalculate my timing and end up at the harbor in Cape May, New Jersey a solid half-hour before sunrise. I find the Nature Center where the bird I'm looking for has been reported and park the car. It's really dark out and I decide to wait in the car since it's about 30 degrees with a light breeze. After about 10 minutes of waiting I start to see some small birds in the water as my eyes have adjusted to the darkness. I put the car window down and pick up my binoculars and I can see there are a few Bufflehead ducks swimming around. That is all I need to grab the camera and head down to the shoreline.
In the dark it's hard to see clearly where to place my feet as I climb down the large boulders to the small area of sand at the edge of the water, thankfully it is low tide. This allows me to get closer to the birds, get a better angle for photos and also somewhat hide myself among the rocks. With all the movement of me climbing down, the ducks swim away. I get settled in to a comfortable spot and just try to hold still in the chilly morning wind. I decide to look through my camera to see what kind of settings I can get and notice that at 8000ISO I am able to get the shutter speed up to 1/30 sec. I think, "if I can brace myself and relax I might be able to make a sharp photo." I frame up a photo, relax my whole body, and squeeze off a series of photos. The photo posted above is one of those photos, it works!
If I can brace myself and relax, I might be able to make a sharp photo.
Not even 5 minutes after I climbed down to the shoreline I see a male Bufflehead coming closer to me. I know I won't be able to get a really sharp photo but take a few shots anyway to see what might happen. The photo below is an unexpected surprise, I catch one of the ducks right as he is diving and it makes for some really cool motion in the photo. The sun hasn't even come up and I'm already getting some interesting photos.