A Great Egret

Photographically speaking, today’s visit to Niisqually Refuge was a rather tough day. First, I couldn’t get my camera set up fast enough to get a picture of a little woodpecker that I encountered within a hundred yards of beginning the walk. Even though I saw him later, I never got nearly as close as I did at the beginning of the walk.

As it turned out, I saw fewer birds today than I saw on any of my previous five visits. There just plain didn’t seem to be many birds out today. I suspect that we’re between seasons, where the summer birds have largely disappeared and migrating birds haven’t quite shown up.

The only unusual bird I saw today was a great egret, a bird I’d originally seen three weeks ago but didn’t have much luck shooting because it was so dark and cloudy. It was bright and clear today, but I didn’t have much better luck than before although I wasn’t more than ten feet away from him for nearly a half hour.

The problem was that he was sitting preening himself on the other side of a rather dense tree, and, although he didn’t seem to mind my taking pictures of him, he certainly wasn’t going to make taking them easy. Despite my best efforts, I could never get a clear shot of him and couldn’t get far enough away to fit him into a single shot.

So what I ended up with was two rather interesting shots that have been stitched together from three or fours different shots. Strangely enough, I’m rather fond of both of them, and decided that I really didn’t need to do anything to enhance either picture.

As you can tell, this is clearly not a “realistic? shot, but I haven’t manipulated the images at all in Photoshop, as I often do. The bands of light were produced by varying branches and leaves between me and the egret, not by stitching the pictures together because any flaws of that nature would show up as straight horizontal lines, not band of various shades and colors.

I did get a few close-ups that would probably be considered “realistic,? but I prefer these two shots.

They somehow capture the intimate feeling that I got from watching the egret groom itself the half hour I was there. There’s almost a voyeuristic overtone to the photographs that also somehow seems somehow appropriate.

Of course, perhaps I just appreciate the fact that they appear rather artistic without my having to do a single thing to them in Photoshop.

10 thoughts on “A Great Egret

  1. Like the pictures.

    One pet peeve though. I’d love it for one whole week, people writing about nature would assume that all the creatures they saw were female rather than male. I mean, roughly 50% of them are, right? And in nature writing its all “he” this and “he” that.

    Sorry, little rant there.

  2. The “voyeurism” would naturally assume that the egret was feminine, but I really didn’t have a clue whether it was male or female, and I don’t like referring to an animal as “it,” which is probably the term I should use. Thus, I chose to use the generic “him,” which I thought was grammatically correct since it can be used in this sense to refer to both male or female, as in the line, “The voter should ask “himself” which candidate least deserves to be elected.

  3. I’ve heard people argue about whether dogs can smile. For the first time (based on your second picture) I think one might be able to argue about a bird’s ability to do the same.

  4. I really like these images, and think that they been “stitched” together rather creatively. I’ve never been to the Nisqually, only the Skagit flats and Padilla Bay. But this last winter I saw more hunters than snow geese. Luckily this was the same for the hunters. Regards, David, Whidbey Island.

  5. They’re really stitched together because I was using a 400mm telephoto lens and was so close to the egret that it took three shots to get all of the bird into the frame.

    There simply wasn’t anyplace else you could get the shot from. So, most of the “creative” blurring comes from the fac that there’s a relatively narrow focus area and everything else in front is out of focus.

    Luckily, I loved the softness of the shots, their abstractness.

  6. These photos are among my favorites. They have the look of Chinese paintings done on silk. After a long day’s work, I look forward to seeing what you have photographed. Thanks, Loren!

  7. I love your blog and your photos and I, too, often refer to a creature as he when I don’t know the gender. I understand your choice and respect your freedom to make your own choices.

    I, however, as a human female (voter) don’t think I have ever felt included or accurately referred to by the words he, his, him or himself, despite the generic intention or how gramatically correct.

    Wouldn’t she, sheis, sheim and sheimself be so much more inclusive as generic terms? No?

  8. I struggled with this question as a high school English teacher and never did find an acceptable alternative.

    I suspect it would be best to agree on entirely new pronouns to refer to both male and female members, but doubt that there’s enough demand to sell such ideas to a wide audience.

    Personally, I hated words like “s/he” which I could never decide how to actually say.

What do you think?