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.