Anatomy of a photo #21: Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron in mating plumage

I noticed I somehow missed entry #21, so I am heading back in my posting numbers a little.

I was hiking in one of my local state parks (I won’t name which one, as it is nearly undiscovered, and I would like to keep it that way), when across a lagoon I saw this heron perched in a tree. I knew the area it was perched in rather well, and I thought my chances were very good of being able to approach it completely undercover, so I set off, looping around the intervening waters to approach it through the trees.

It was very dark under the trees, hiding me even better than I had hoped, so quietly and slowly I crept along, looking for an opening that I could photograph the great blue heron (Ardea herodius) from. I found a hole in the tree and grabbed a couple quick shots before creeping even closer and climbing part way up into the branches of a nearby oak.

I kept to the shadows and darker areas, trying not to expose myself to the heron’s sight as I swayed slightly, wrapping an arm around the oak as I also tried holding the camera steady. I watched as the wind stirred its dangling, pointy neck plumage, trying to time it to where they were puffed in the wind.

I was never able to keep all of the lower, blurred out foliage of the tree I was hiding in from the frames’ of the images, but I am still happy with the images, as the blurred out parts sort of blend into the foliage of the tree that the heron is perched in.

I used a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x converter to boost me up to 280mm. My shutter speed was low- 1/160th of a second, as I was using a camera that was noisy at the higher ISOs and I wanted a fairly noise free image. The aperture was f8 to keep the depth of field fairly shallow, but not too shallow. The grey skies are part of what determined all of the settings, but they are also responsible for the even lighting.


About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, birds, California, How To, How To, nature photography, photography, portraits, SLR, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #21: Great Blue Heron

  1. Mattie Ivy says:

    These guys are so majestic when they’re in mating plumage. Nice picture! – Mattie

  2. Vicki says:

    love this one too!

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