Photographer Captures Food Chain in 'One in a Trillion Shot'

Photographer Captures Food Chain in 'One in a Trillion Shot'

Doc Jon was walking along the boardwalk April 13 in Madeira Beach, Florida with his Sigma 150-500mm lens attached to his Canon 6D, when a passerby asked him a simple question: "What can you shoot with that thing?" To give an example, the owner of a medical consulting firm who has branded himself Doc Jon spotted an osprey 400 feet over his head, lifted his lens to the sky, and captured what he calls a "one-in-a-trillion shot." 

It wasn't just an image of an osprey, though. It was a living example of the food chain, as the osprey clutched in its talons a small shark, which in turn clutched in its jaws a small fish. 

"I started shooting and my settings were off. I had no tripod. I was trying to hold it steady, but it was windy out," he said. "I could see the osprey had a fish, but it was far away. It wasn't until I got home, cropped in on it, lightened the shadows, and applied some sharpening that I suddenly saw. 'Oh my god, that's a shark's tail.' Then I saw the fish in its mouth and I knew it was going to go viral." 

In this closeup of Doc Jon's photo, a fish is visible in the jaws of a shark, which is caught in the talons of an osprey.

It's easy to miss upon first glance, and when Doc Jon first posted his incredible photo, it didn't garner much attention. It wasn't until he commented on his own photo pointing out the fish in the shark's mouth that it began to gain some momentum. A local news station caught wind of it and the photo took off. The photo began getting thousands of shares from multiple news outlets and word spread worldwide. Doc Jon said he's been fielding interview requests from places as far away as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel, and India. 

"The fun part for me is some people are commenting that it's Photoshopped, and obviously, those people don't know the limitations of Photoshop," he said. "Then, other people are telling me I should have sold it instead of sharing it online. I'm laughing, because really, it's not a good photo. The photo itself kind of sucks. But it tells a great story and it's getting me a lot of recognition for my other work now."

Realizing how widely his image was being shared, Doc Jon quickly put together a Facebook album of some of his best work. Images that had barely gotten noticed before are now being shared far and wide as well. Many of his images include other examples of the circle of life as predators eat their prey, but none achieved the singular uniqueness of a predator eating prey that is eating prey. The photographer said it wasn't a simple matter of serendipity that he got the shot. "I'm out all day every day shooting as much as I can," he said. "I take a thousand shots and may only post one, but I'm always out shooting."

Though some online commenters accused Doc Jon of Photoshopping the osprey image, he said the multiple angles he captured of the bird are proof enough of its authenticity.

Since the photo went viral, Doc Jon said he's become aware that more people are noticing who he is. "I was out shooting great horned owls the other day and there were a bunch of other photographers there," he said. "A woman asked me about what I shoot and I said that I got a shot the other day you may have seen. She said, 'Is it the one with the osprey, the shark, and the fish? You're Doc Jon!' It was like, holy cow, these other photographers out here know who I am now. That was a pretty cool moment." 

Images used with permission of Doc Jon.

Brian Pernicone's picture

Brian Pernicone grew up admiring the coastal waters of New England and that influence is evident in much of his work, which focuses primarily on coastal landscapes, boats, New England wildlife, and water sports.

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It's a shame he didn't have a better lens, the quality of the pictures are pretty poor, it could've been a great shot.

I love my sigma 150-500. its not a multi thousand dollar lens but It does take some great photos. I do agree its not close to being my best work lol

There's no telling how far in he had to crop in order to get the images we've seen.

quite a bit lee lol

You need to learn what you're talking about. This isn't a poor image because of the glass, it's a poor image because the photographer cropped heavily on a 20mp body, which created a shit ton of noise and severely lowered the image's quality.

It's not the glass, it's the bad shot SOOC that ruined it.

So you're saying if he had a Canon 600 F4 IS II or a 800 F5.6 the image wouldn't be better?

Not sure why Sean sounds so angry lol why do people have to be in attack mode all the time?

I thought this was a joke at first...then I had to check myself. Good timing, technicals be damned.

thanks Leigh :)

Brian I love that a fellow photographer wrote the BEST article for this story!! thank you for listening and doing such a beautiful article friend! :)

Agreed! Great storytelling, Brian. And FANTASTIC shot Doc Jon!

Thanks so much Suzi Pratt

Thanks, Doc and Suzi. Glad to share the story behind such a cool photo!

Great shot indeed. Right place, right time, camera in hands and a little bit of luck. Well maybe a bit more than a little bit in this case :)
I would not complain about quality. Let's just appreciate the fact this picture was taken in the first place, even thou photog did not have some $17k tele lens at disposal.

I really appreciate that Krzysztof ! ! YES lots of luck! the only thing that luck wasn't playing was that I always have my camera! :)

I didn't have a camera with me but at the farm house I was living in years ago I had a cat who was a good night she brought in a small bat in her the bat's mouth was an insect it had chain in action again

The moral of the story - always have a camera on you :) But in all seriousness, ever since I almost permanently keep Ricoh GR in my pocket I realized how many great shots you can miss when you don't have camera with you. And some people may argue that smartphones can do the job these days but it was never my cup of tea.

I thought it was a great shot

thank you Alexander !! :)

Thanks Jackie !

What a catch Henri Cartier-Bresson would be proud.

I love how he himself remarks about selling it, that it's not a particularly great photo (from a final, photoshopped, commercial image standpoint, I'm assuming), it's what the photo says.

I just don't feel comfortable selling a photo that shouldn't be sold ;). thank you Kurt!


Cool, but check this one out:
Way better photo quality, shot from closer, and 4 characters in the story :)

Nice catch! Ospreys are such cool birds. If you look close theres eggs coming out of this pinfish, circle of life :-)