Sunday, September 8, 2019

Great blue heron strikes again!

Great blue heron in the act of catching a fish.
You have to admire the great blue heron.  It can be found over much of North America; anywhere water is present.  It is well adapted to hunting in wetlands and will eagerly take fish, frogs, snakes, salamanders, and any other creature it can get down its gullet.  They stoically await the arrival of a meal.  Instead of actively hunting for a morsel they remain motionless until the prey comes within striking range.  Then, in a flash, their hunger is temporarily satiated. 

I shot these images five days ago while hiking at Rocky Point Park.  There were a number of things working in my favour.  First off, the sun was behind me.  This means the subject being photographed will have very little shadow associated with it.  I try to "point my shadow" in the direction of my subject when shooting in full sun.  This always gives me great light and fast shutter speeds.  This was the second factor which helped.  Even at an ISO of  80, I managed to get 1/250th of a second with an aperture of f/6.3. 

The third thing was that the heron was comfortable being around people.  This is one of the reasons I like shooting wildlife in parks and walkways.  You can get within a decent shooting distance of many creatures because they see humans frequently and (generally) are not threatened by them.  Even though my camera was only capable of a relative focal length of 460 mm, it was enough to fill the viewfinder with the bird.

For my part, I moved to get into the right position (sun behind me) and moved slowly to avoid startling the heron.  I kept the camera to my eye and waited patiently before snapping the images.  The camera was set to manual exposure mode and I was shooting in RAW format.  Colour balance and exposure tweaks were made in post-processing using Adobe Elements.   I took 28 pictures in all.  This is not unusual for me in that I can easily take one or two hundred images a day when out in nature.  Large memory cards and external drives help with the enormous amount of space the shots take up.

Thanks for reading.

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