Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 17, 2009

Some babies are less cute than others

Filed under: Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 7:30 pm
Green Heron juvenile

Green Heron juvenile

Whenever a photo of a baby anything gets posted on a photo critique site there usually are many comments about how cute the viewer finds the subject. Among the few exceptions are very young herons and egrets, like this Green Heron at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ. I doubt if this bird has been out of the nest for more than a week as seen in this image taken on June 9, 2009.

This particular location has been used by Green Herons the past 2-3 years, which surprises most of us as it is very close to a bench along one of the trails: possibly only 20 feet away. But there’s a nasty “moat” of brown water at the base of the incline in front of the bench that keeps everyone from getting any closer, and the nest is usually in such deep vegetation that it is easy to miss even when occupied by an adult heron.

When I visited on the 9th there wasn’t much else to attract my attention, so I spent some time just sitting quietly in the grass below the bench watching the pair of juvenile herons a few feet away. They clambered about the low branches a bit, but mostly just sat still and partially hidden. I took a lot of images, of course, to make the most of this opportunity. This is my favorite from he session as it shows the head in classic profile without any twigs in front of it. The surrounding branches help frame the subject and give the image some depth.

I was careful with my exposure to keep from blowing out the bright areas on the face: easy to do with such a dark setting. I switched from Matrix to Spot metering and dialed in +2/3rds stops compensation, then made sure of the exposure by checking the histogram on the camera LCD. Natural light only (no flash).

I was also careful in raw conversion and in post processing in Photoshop to keep my adjustments from pushing the bright areas beyond the limits as well.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 200, 1/350th second at f/8.

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