My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Great blue herons in flight

I’m sorry about the appearance of my last post, I tried something different, didn’t like it, but didn’t have the energy to go back and do it all over. So I’m going back to the old way of doing things, I hope you enjoy these photos of great blue herons in flight.

I know I said at one time that I wasn’t going to take any more shots of heron’s butts as they flew off, well, I lied. I still do, for practice, but then I normally delete them, but I like these three as they show how herons twist their wings as they flap.

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron taking off

I have to tell you though, it’s a lot easier to get a shot of a heron flying away from you than it is one flying directly at you!

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

So here’s the story behind this little series. I was on my morning walk, minding my own business, and had just passed two young women going the opposite direction as I was. Suddenly, there was a great commotion in the brush along the creek I was approaching, and two herons burst out of the brush headed straight towards me, so close and so low that I thought that I was going to get hit by their wings. Out of instinct, I began to duck, and at the same time, brought my camera to my eye and fired. I swear that I heard the beep of the focus lock as I shot that photo, which by the way, was taken with the zoom set at 70mm, for I didn’t even have time to zoom in at all. My composure was not helped by the sounds of the two women screaming and breaking into a run right behind me, thinking that we were all going to be attacked by the herons.

I managed to regain my composure and shot these two as the chasing heron looked the situation over, and returned to the creek to hunt.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Do you know that it is darned near impossible to keep a bird as large as a heron in the your viewfinder when it’s less than 20 feet up and directly overhead?

For these next two, it was much the same situation, I was walking upstream along a creek, when a heron came gliding along headed downstream.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

We spotted each other at about the same time, and the heron turned away.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

From those experiences, and several others with various species of birds, I was learning that I have to anticipate when the auto focus is going to focus on the bird, and that I have to already be pressing the shutter release the rest of the way when it happens to get an incoming bird in focus. I thought that I had gotten the timing down for this one, but noooo….

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

For this series, I was using the closest thing that I use as a blind, standing against a fence in chest high weeds on top of the hill overlooking the pond you see in the background. I don’t think that the heron saw me when some one else spooked it, it was headed straight at me. I had to step away from the fence I was leaning back against in order to get the freedom of arm movement required when the heron spotted me, veered off to my right, and did a slow circle around me.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

As some one who has never used Photoshop or any other photo editing software, I wonder if I could remove the sign from the background so that the photo looks more natural?

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

I wonder if I could edit out the building?

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Bright sunshine is great for high shutter speeds to freeze motion, but then you have to deal with shadows.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Cloudy days mean little or no shadow, but then, getting sharp photos is more difficult, at least with my old Nikon. When I bump the ISO up higher than 400, the photo quality drops off to the point that I’m better off shooting at 400, and living with a little blur from motion.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Here’s a few more of my many attempts to capture the perfect shot of a great blue heron in flight.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Another heron butt, I do really need to stop posting those!

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Just when I think that I am going to get the perfect shot, the stupid trees jump in the way and spoil it.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Sometimes more so than others.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

So I keep trying.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Who knows, one of these days I may even get it right.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

DSC_0461

Great blue heron in flight

I’m getting closer to that perfect photo, one of these days!

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

That’s about it for this one. On a side note, I’m thinking of upgrading my photo equipment. Currently, I am using an older Nikon D50 and a Nikkor 70-300mm lens. Since I have worked all the glitches out of the body, I am very pleased with it, yet I think that the newer technology built into today’s cameras would be helpful. I would just purchase a new camera body, but I have read and heard that the lens I am currently using isn’t the best that Nikon has ever produced. I know that it has way too much chromatic aberration in it, and a few other problems as well. Since I’m on a budget, this won’t be easy, but I’m thinking of switching over to either a Canon 60D or a Pentax K5, with a couple of lenses for each.

One of my younger brothers uses a Pentax, and I can see that his photos are a notch above what I can get with the set up that I’m currently using. On the other hand, I am somewhat familiar with Canon, as I use a Powershot as a backup camera, and I am very pleased with the color rendition and sharpness it is able to achieve. Also, many of the bloggers that I follow use Canon equipment, and I’m often in awe of the quality of their photos.

I know that the most cost-effective way I could upgrade is to purchase a new Nikon body and lens like an 18-105mm lens so I would have something more suitable for landscape work, and continue using my current lens until I can afford to replace it with one of a higher quality. Or, I could continue to use the D50 body, and purchase a better lens now.

I’m so confused!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and any thoughts on the camera situation would be most welcome!

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14 responses

  1. I, for one, am sold on Canon. You can tell, by my images. If you ever need any advice for nice set-up let me know, Jerry.

    December 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    • Well Bob, your photos are one of the reasons I am leaning towards Canon. I would love to have the same setup that you do, but I am working on a much smaller budget, so here’s what I am considering right now. A Canon 60D body with a Canon 18-135mm lens and a Sigma 150-500 lens. However, the Sigma lens would be like dragging a tank along when hiking, so I would eventually add a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L lens, and then a teleconverter to put behind that.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  2. I think some of those shots are worthy of framing-I wouldn’t mind having them on my walls! I ran into a professional photographer a while ago who told me that his first professional sale was a photo of mallards taking off that somebody paid $500.00 for. And they saw it on his facebook page.

    December 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    • Thanks! I have already sold a few photos, mainly of lighthouses, but also of a bunch of wild iris growing along the banks of the Pere Marquette River, of all things.

      December 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      • There’s your new camera!

        December 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      • Well, unfortunately, my profits from the sales didn’t cover the cost of maintaining the website, so I ended up losing money on that venture.

        December 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

  3. I have to say I’m partial to Canons, but I’m not an expert by any means. I believe that its how you use your equipment more than simply the quality of the equipment. There have been times when I’ve taken what I think are great shots but they didn’t quite turn out due to lighting angle, autofocus roaming, movement etc. Other shots I didn’t think were that great but turned out very well. There’s chance involved in all of this, but you know what they say about luck being when preparation meets opportunity!

    December 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    • Thank you! I know that it’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools, but the lens I have for my Nikon is one of the worst they have ever produced, and that’s seems to be widely known, so it’s not just me. My camera body is old, but it still functions well, but that leaves me in a quandary. I have seen the difference quality lenses make back when I was still using my Pentax and purchased a very good 135mm lens for it. The results with that lens were astounding when compared to the older lenses I had been using.

      December 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

  4. All through your post I was laughing out loud as your commentary sounds just like mine when I’m trying to capture photos of birds in flight. First..get them in the view finder ! Focusing while they are moving are so hard..and yes, I have plenty of butt shots too.
    The Canon 60D is decent enough, but I quickly moved up to the 7D as I found the 60D just wasn’t fast or sharp enough for me.
    They say to always put your money in the glass first, although it sounds like a body upgrade is best for you now.
    Hope you have a great New Year!

    December 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    • Thanks s for the input! And, a Happy New Year to you and yours!

      December 31, 2012 at 9:47 pm

  5. Another outstanding series of GBH action, Jerry! Being such a large bird, I love seeing different angles of them to capture their coloring & feathers, and that gorgeous 6 ft winspan. Isn’t it cool when you hear one flap on by you?!! What power!

    January 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    • Thank you. You’re right about the sound of them flying, but I love the sound of swans flying even more.

      January 11, 2013 at 1:50 am

      • So true, me too!

        January 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

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