Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 20, 2010

Black-crowned Night-Heron and Directional Light

Filed under: behavior, Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, technique — richditch @ 1:45 pm
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron is a regular and reliable bird at the Gilbert Water Ranch, where this image was made on the morning of February 12, 2010. As their name implies, these stocky birds are active at night, and I still have strong memories of listening to them fly out at dusk from large roosts in coastal New Jersey.

If you get out birding early enough in the day you can often find a few birds still waiting patiently for a “bedtime snack” before they head off to roost for the day. But if you arrive too late at the Water Ranch to find one in the bushes along the edge of a pond you can still see a few in their daytime roost along the path between ponds 3 and 4 at the northwest corner of pond 4.

I see adults and juvenile birds here frequently, and sometimes I’ll stop for a few photos if I’ve not been finding much else to work with on that particular visit. There’s a lot of optical clutter from the mesquites and salt cedars here, and it can be a challenge at times to find both a clean roost and a clear shot. I liked the way this adult was illuminated by the morning light – directional light (as opposed to the boring “point your shadow at the bird” front light so often recommended by lazy photographers) is a great way to give an image the appearance of three dimensions as the light brings out texture an depth by creating shadows.

I had a little problem getting a completely clear view, but the small amount of green blur at the bottom left isn’t an image killer for me.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20e (2x), ISO 400, 1/6740th second at f/8, matrix meter at -2/3rd stop exposure compensation to protect the the bright breast from overexposure.

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1 Comment »

  1. Rich

    Not only do I find the directional light apppealing, for me it makes the image. I also love the great pose of the heron, the way it looks sleepy and how well lit up the eye is.

    Comment by Mia — February 20, 2010 @ 3:14 pm


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