Anatomy of a photo #28: Great Blue Heron, boats and mist Part II

Great blue heron perched on the bow of a small boat. This one differs from one taken in a few minutes earlier in lighting, composition, and detail

When photographing wildlife, the situation is constantly changing. The “wild” in wildlife is not there by accident. These animals and birds are not trained, they act and react according to their own needs and instincts. There is no studio, no constant lighting, no chance to call out direction to your subject and expect them to react how you want them to react. Because of this, with wildlife, I try to take a good shot. Then I try to take a better one. I never know how long an animal will stick around for, when a cloud might cross the sun, changing the lighting dramatically, so I try to compose the best I can, as quickly as I can, while I can. I slowly moved down the road, almost paralleling where this heron was perched upon this boat, taking pictures as my angle to the heron changed, and as the light itself changed. The sun rose high enough, where it could clear the hills and light up the heron, no longer leaving it as a silhouette. Detail and color jumped forth from the heron and the boat, especially when contrasted against the washed out background of mist and distant land. The neck feathers wafted out in the gentle breeze, and fluffed out as it groomed itself. there were a myriad of different postures and activities to choose from. The boat was moving about in the breeze, compounding the changing angles. I stayed with the long lens that I used in the photograph of the heron from a few minutes earlier- I wanted to be as close to this heron as I could without disturbing it. I kept moving in my slow and deliberate fashion, being careful not to focus too much attention on the heron as I trained my lens upon it. I opened up the aperture by nearly two full stops, as it became less important to have the background in focus, and more important to have a higher shutter speed to capture the heron as it began to actively preen and move around.

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-
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