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Behind The Shot: Fairy Dancers

Lake Jesup, Seminole County, Florida

Photo By Linn Smith

Lake Jesup is located in central Florida and is one of the area’s largest lakes as well as home to a wide variety of wildlife. Living in close proximity to this area affords me many opportunities for observing and photographing wildlife. To better understand their many complexities and behaviors, I’ve spent countless hours watching the wildlife perform different activities and capturing these various endeavors with my camera.

When photographing wildlife mannerisms, it’s especially rewarding to watch the interaction between members of the same species. On this particular day, after two hours of photographing other birds, I spotted these two great egrets engaged together in movement across the water. They appeared intent to find an appropriate landing spot to begin their search for food. Luckily, I spotted them due to their large size and could check my settings for capturing their landing.

Watching their interaction as they descended to the shoreline and coming very close to where I was positioned reminded me of a dance movement, as if they were performing around a score. Their graceful timing was perfectly in sync with one another and balletic in a smooth, precise touchdown. The rhythmic steps of their descent were fluid in beauty and perfection.

When I returned home and viewed my multiple captures of their flight and landing, I chose this particular image as it seemed to remind me of fairy dancers in a soft mist as they flowed across the water and approached landing with delicate grace. On further reflection and in studying my composition of these two great egrets, I decided to convert the image to black and white in order to emphasize their dreamlike landing. I hope I accomplished this effect.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. Exposure: 1/2000 sec., ƒ/13, ISO 400.

See more of Linn Smith’s work at