For the first time that I can ever recall, yesterday I found a Heron that didn’t fly away when I looked at it. Now this may just be me, or it may be something that also happens to other birders, but when I see a Heron on the patch I can guarantee that one of two things will happen. If I continue walking and merely look at it out of the corner of my eye as I pass, the Heron will not move. If however I stop, or even slow down momentarily, the Heron will noisily take flight and disappear to the far side of whatever pond it was on. This explains why despite Herons being large, obvious, slow-moving birds, I have never taken a satisfactory photo of one.
If I can be ultra-modest for a moment, yesterday that changed. After I had had my emergency haircut (you should have seen it, honestly) I crossed the road over to Alexandra Lake and was presented with a Heron in good light on the other side of the pond. I stopped to take a photograph of it, as it’s actually fairly narrow at this point. Naturally the Heron took flight. Over to my side of the pond. And it landed not between me and the sun, but the other side of me, ie the nicely lit side. I mean, come on! With 700mm of focal length, I actually had to back away to get the whole bird in. It didn’t mind this movement at all, and in fact I changed position very frequently in order to avoid litter in the background, and throughout the Heron simply ignored me. The dark background and contrasting bright bird proved challenging, but I had plenty of time to check histograms, and determined that minus 2/3 of a stop gave the most pleasing combination of darkish background and a bird that stood out but wasn’t blown out. It’s a setting I should try and remember.
So, may I plaster your screens with Grey Heron for a moment please? Thank You. And please note that Picasa is one of the most horrible image-hosting platforms on this planet, and that razor sharp photos are generally reduced to stained glass impressions of their former selves. So on this site, my somewhat over-ambitious photo gallery, they look a lot better, and you can’t “right click ‘n’ steal” either.
I have no ambitions at making a living out of photography, it’s purely a hobby that sucks up money, hence why I am back working in a bank, but I have to say I am purdy darn pleased with these. I took about 160 shots in ten minutes, before a pleasant middle-aged couple walked right past where I was crouched with my camera and directly towards the Heron, which, tolerant though it undoubtedly was, flew off back to the other side and landed, obscured, in a tree, whereupon this couple proceeded to stand exactly where it had been and point at it. I don’t know who they were, and I am not a violent person, but if you spot a woman in Wanstead with a monopod sticking out from between her shoulder blades, and a man with a Canon SLR embedded in the side of his head, that’ll be them.