Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

May 25, 2013

Great Blue Heron Variety

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, style, weather — richditch @ 11:10 am
Great Blue Heron in morning mist

Great Blue Heron

Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E III (2x), ISO 800, 1/25ooth second at f/5.6, 7:24 am on 5/2/2013

It is easy for a photographer to get stuck in a rut of lookalike images, especially with common subjects like the Great Blue Heron. The Great Blue is hard to miss around water throughout its extensive range and even non birders often are attracted to them because they are obvious and often stationary allowing decent views.

I see these large birds on every visit to the Gilbert Water Ranch where I do the bulk of my bird photography, and if nothing else cooperates with me on an outing I can usually find a heron to exercise my camera and eye.

But with an extensive collection of Great Blue Heron photos already in my catalog I am always on the lookout for interesting poses or situations to add some variety to what I’ve already shot.

The lead image was taken at the start of a recent walkabout, so I had the ISO set to 800 and the lens wide open at f/5.6 to maximize the shutter speed if I encountered any small active birds in the shadows. I should have dropped the ISO to 400 and closed the lens to f/8 for this had I been thinking about settings, but I was really more interested in the posture of this usually elegant subject. The spread legs are something I don’t usually see and for me that made this an image suitable for my collection. All I had to do was wait for a turn of the head to give a nice profile shot.

Great Blue Heron in morning mist

Great Blue Heron in morning mist

Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E III (2x), ISO 800, 1/8oth second at f/8, 7:41 am on 1/31/2013

Another way to add variety is to take advantage of any unusual weather conditions. Here in very dry Arizona I don’t get to see much fog or even morning mist, so encountering a bit rising from one of the ponds at the Gilbert Water Ranch led to my second example. I’ve left some space at the top of the frame to show how limited the mist actually was – just a few feet beyond the edge of the pond the view was clear and open.

So, if you can’t travel to new places anytime you want you can still keep your photography fresh by looking for variety in common subjects. If nothing else it is good practice until you get the chance to visit someplace entirely new.




  1. Hi Rich, what a great pose for your heron shot, beaut image, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Comment by kim — May 26, 2013 @ 5:51 am

  2. Love both the images but the one with the morning mist really appeals to me!

    Comment by Mia McPherson — May 27, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

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