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Thread: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

  1. #1
    terrib's Avatar
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    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Hope y'all aren't tired of me!!

    On a whim, I carried my camera with me on a routine trip to the doctor's office today. Driving home we spotted nests in the trees out in the lake and then realized there were Herons in them. The only problem - to get close you had to walk out on a very busy 1/2 mile long 55mph bridge with no pedestrian walkway. The shoulder was wide enough but there was no place to escape in the case of crazy drivers or accidents. We only spent about 10 minutes out there before I got too nervous to stay. But the payoff was worth the nerves.

    Again, I can't thank you guys enough for all the tips the last few days on shooting BIF. I realize the Herons fly slower than Hawks but I still don't think I'd have gotten these shots without the help and all my practice. It took me several hours to come off my high. For once I had way more pics that I kept than I threw away! Now I just need a rainy day so I can finish up the tutorials on Lightroom. It's just been too gorgeous to be inside!

    I've taken dramatic license with the He's and She's. I actually have no idea.

    #1 She leaves as we approach to get reinforcements
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    #2 He returns
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    #3 He guards
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    #4 She feels it's safe and heads back too
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    #5 She arrives
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    #6 What a team!
    Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

  2. #2
    Cantab's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    What a spectacular set of photos (and captions)! What shutter speed did you use on the flying birds? -- not that they're the fastest move birds

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Hi Terri. These are pictures you can be proud of! #2 and #5 are my favourites but all of them are very good. Regards...

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Excellent set, Terri. Nice job on the BIF shots. Be carefull with the drivers though. They might try to see what you're shooting and take their eyes off the road. The tourist drivers up here in the summer are looking at everything BUT the road.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Great series, Terri! You have done very well! I must admitt a little envious here. Our Herons all nest together way up the trees some 60+ feet, to make it worse...the nesting site close to me is on the wrong side of the police station fence and through the woods!

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Very nice series, I like em all!

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cantab View Post
    What a spectacular set of photos (and captions)! What shutter speed did you use on the flying birds? -- not that they're the fastest move birds
    Bruce, actually all of these shots were taken at 1/2000, F5.6 and Auto ISO. I was in shutter priority and didn't switch for the still shots as they were snapped just after the landings. (I did do some other still shots in Manual but just didn't choose them for the series.) That speed probably was overkill but since I was in somewhat of a hurry to get off the bridge and probably wasn't going to brave it again I wanted to be sure! Between the shaky bridge, the wind and my unsteady hands who knows what speed I really needed...

  8. #8
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Thanks Otavio and James for taking the time to view and comment. I appreciate the support!

  9. #9
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post
    Excellent set, Terri. Nice job on the BIF shots. Be carefull with the drivers though. They might try to see what you're shooting and take their eyes off the road. The tourist drivers up here in the summer are looking at everything BUT the road.
    That's what I was afraid of, Dan. I imagine you do have that problem up there. We get that in Colorado. People stopping in the middle of the a winding mountain road, doors open, kids out of the car because they spotted a deer. Crazy.

  10. #10
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    Great series, Terri! You have done very well! I must admitt a little envious here. Our Herons all nest together way up the trees some 60+ feet, to make it worse...the nesting site close to me is on the wrong side of the police station fence and through the woods!
    I've seen Herons around here all my life but I've never seen, or maybe I should say noticed, a nest. There must have been 6 or 8 of them within shooting distance. Now that I know what to look for, maybe I can find one in a safer position.

  11. #11
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Wonderful captures Terri. Keep the nest in mind, soon there will be hatchlings you can follow till they fledge.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Like the images Terri, the first is high impact from the chosen perspective, like the one landing (second image). The third I would give it a little more room at the bottom for the virtual feet, fourth is not a complementing angle, birds taken from the side look like pancakes (sideways) The next not so sure about and do like the last one. Would crop a little from the left to give more room for the bird to look into.

    You could tweak the images in PS for a bit more pop. Also better light would have been ideal but we take what we get. Like them a lot particularly trying for the environmental image showing the two birds and habitat, everyone seems to go for the tight shot every time !!!

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Very nice Terri - it is a pleasure to see you getting the shots you want. Bravo.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Hi Terri,

    Great series. #1 & 4 are my favorites.

    I can see the excitement and tension almost got the beter of you. A kind word of caution on exposure.
    In #2,3,5 & 6 you almost overexposed, from what I can see on my screen.

    Don’t take chances, your life is worth more than a single good shot.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Wow Terri these are some really good shots. Particularly #2 - very dramatic.

    Your persistence and patience is paying off. Keep at it.

    It is not often that one can get to almost the same level as the nest so the risk maybe worth it but please take your surroundings into account in future. I stopped doing such things after that pond incident last year.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Congrat's terri, well done!!!

    He or She..................................


    The most obvious difference between the male and female great blue heron is their size. Male herons are visibly larger than their female counterparts, typically weighing between 6 and 8 lbs. A female typically weights between 4.5 and 6 lbs. The male heron's bill is also typically longer than the female's. This difference is typically most visible when a mating pair is seen sitting side by side.

  17. #17
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Thanks to the rest of you for your helpful feedback.

    Bobo, pond incident? I guess I missed that.

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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    ...all of these shots were taken at 1/2000, F5.6 and Auto ISO. I was in shutter priority and didn't switch for the still shots as they were snapped just after the landings.
    Terri, until now I've avoided the auto exposure modes but I think will follow your practice of using shutter priority and the auto ISO. Yesterday I was taking duck and geese photos at a marsh -- using manual plus auto ISO and I believe the same 100-400mm lens as you use. I had a quick look at a few shots and they seemed a bit dark but seeing the LCD in the sun is difficult at the best of times. Back home I saw that, yes, the birds were a bit underexposed because of the brightness from the water. And I've now discovered that exposure compensation is available in shutter priority, etc. but not in manual.

    So from now on, birds in sunny water get 1/2000th, auto ISO and exposure compensation of probably 2/3's of a stop. I did an experiment with a 50mm lens on the camera and discovered a short while ago what probably everyone else knows: in shutter priority and auto ISO, the camera first widens the aperture and only then starts to increase the ISO from a base of 100 ISO.

  19. #19
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Nesting Great Blue Herons - Practice pays off when it counts!

    Bruce, maybe some of the other more experienced ones will chime in. I think I forgot to mention that most of these shots are +1 EC. I've found that I usually need that boost in these situations in TV mode. I'm not sure if that's because I'm missing metering on the subject and hitting the brighter background or what.

    I have not figured out the algorithm on TV. I noticed on AV with Auto ISO that the system seems to go just above the 1/telephoto length rule for shutter speed and then ups the ISO. On AV, I have seen apertures more narrow than wide open even though the ISO was higher but it doesn't go much narrower than wide open.

    I have no problem using an "auto" exposure mode. I know how to use manual and I do use it when I'm shooting lighting conditions that don't change constantly. Maybe some day I'll be quick enough to adjust constantly in Manual mode but maybe not. It's a tool like Auto Focus.

    Looking forward to seeing some of your shots.

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