Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 29, 2012

Great Blue Heron in morning light

Filed under: Birds, comparisons, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 6:44 pm
Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Nikon D300, 300/2.8 AF-S lens plus TC20E III (2x), ISO 400, 1/640th second at f/8, tripod, full frame

It doesn’t matter how many shots of Great Blue Herons most people have – it is very difficult to pass up an opportunity for even more shots. That was the case for me when I visited the Gilbert Water Ranch at dawn on January 25, 2012. I decided to start from the main parking lot on Guadalupe for a change, so I made my first birding stop at pond 7 from the small gap in the hedge by the picnic pavilion. I rarely take photos from this spot as the birds tend to be far away in the center or southern end of the pond, but on this day there was a good mudflat here with close activity.

This heron fished just off the mud flat and to my west so it caught the first light to reach the pond.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Nikon D300, 300/2.8 AF-S lens plus TC20E III (2x), ISO 400, 1/800th second at f/8, tripod, 88% of frame

I took lots of photos, playing with ISO and other camera settings trying not to burn out (over expose) the small white areas on the heron’s plumage. It took a lot of care to avoid cutting off parts of the bird in the frame as my effective 600mm lens was just a hair too long for the situation. Normally I’d be able to back up enough to give more space in the frame, but the place where I could stand without a nasty tumble on the slick mud was very limited. If I’d have put my 1.4x TC14E in my pocket befreo starting out I could have switched to that instead of the 2x for better framing, but this visit was really meant to try out the model III 2x converter I’d just purchased from a local birder as an upgrade from my original 14 year old version.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Nikon D300, 300/2.8 AF-S lens plus TC20E III (2x), ISO 800, 1/640th second at f/8, tripod, full frame

Note that the third image in this post was taken a few minutes before the top image and the raw file has the same overall warm color. But I decided to neutralize most of that in processing just to give this set of related images some variety.

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4 Comments »

  1. Dude, that first picture is amazing. What time of the day was it? I’d kill to have light like that on tap for portraiture.

    Comment by London Headshots — January 30, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  2. These were all taken about 15-20 minutes after sunrise. I try to be out at dawn when the sun is low and the light is warm and soft. Here in AZ the sun moves up the sky very quickly so the good light doesn’t last long

    Comment by richditch — January 30, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  3. I’m off to California on Wednesday for a trip to Yosemite. Hopefully I’ll catch some morning light like this. I’m from the UK, by the way, so we never get to see these amazing golden tones very often 🙂
    Looking forward to my trip even more now.

    Comment by London Headshots — January 30, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  4. great light, Rich, and nice job composing these in the field without much room for error.

    Comment by Brian Gatlin — January 31, 2012 @ 8:39 am


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