05.19.19: Heron profile

A Great Blue Heron strikes a graceful pose, Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, Fla. 


Technical information

Jan. 16, 2018,
8:23 a.m.

Location26°34'15.84" N 81°49'32.694" W 
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/1250th second


Sometimes all elements of a photograph — the lighting, the composition, the background, the subject, the pose, the colors — just work.

That’s easier to accomplish in a studio shot, where the photographer controls all the elements.

But in the wild, it takes a lot of luck. So this is a lucky shot.

I was hiking through Six Mile Cypress Slough in Fort Myers, Fla., when I saw this Great Blue Heron resting on a floating dock in a lake. The bird was watching the water for a potential meal, so it was slowly turning its head as it surveyed the surroundings.

The low-angled January morning sun was to the right, providing nice lighting. I was located slighting above the heron’s position, so the water reflecting the blue morning sky provided an uncluttered background.

I liked what I saw through the camera’s viewfinder, but the bird’s pose — looking down or to its right, away from the sun — led to an uninteresting photo. So I held my position, kept the heron in the viewfinder and waited.

After about five minutes the heron turned its head sharply to its left — looking toward the right side of the scene — while keeping its neck curved. I clicked off several shots, then checked the camera’s display. The image really popped. The sunlight modeled the heron’s head, neck and body. The pose was interesting. The yellow eye stood out from the surrounding shades of blue.

I knew I had a shot I could use.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.