Sign up for our newsletter
Stay up to date on all the latest photography gear!Subscribe
Photo Of The Day By Robert HendersonToday’s Photo of the Day is...
Photo Of The Day By Max FosterToday’s Photo of the Day is “The...
Photo Of The Day By Ross StoneToday’s Photo of the Day is “Mobius...
Into The Wild
Behind the scenes with David Yarrow and his unconventional approach to wildlife photography.
A Year Photographing The National Parks
Ten highlights from an epic tour photographing all of the U.S. national parks.
How To Plan A Milky Way Photo Shoot
Tips for choosing locations, timing and creative approaches to photographing the Milky Way above the landscape for incredible nighttime photos.
Wildlife Photo Impact
Tips and insights for creating dynamic portraits of wildlife.
How To Use Histograms
For precise exposures that best capture a scene’s dynamic range, ignore what the image preview looks like and rely on the histogram.
This is the 1st of your 3 free articles
Become a member for unlimited website access and more.
FREE TRIAL Available!
Already a member? Sign in to continue reading
During a recent trip to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, I witnessed an incredible mass wildlife event. Hundreds of great and snowy egrets gathered at the edge of a small stream, drawn there by a spawn of minnows. The egrets, seemingly unconcerned by the dozens of people gathered to watch the event, spent hours plucking minnows out of the water. And I spent hours photographing the event, trying to capture compelling images of the acrobatic and showy snowy egrets, which would fly over the water, stirring up the minnows with their talons, and then without warning would suddenly drop their head into the water and emerge with a tasty prize—all while still in mid-flight. The action was fast and furious, and although after several hours my neck was sore and my trigger finger bruised, I didn’t stop until the birds ran out of minnows to catch. Why? Because for every successful shot I got, I had hundreds of failures. The egrets moved so quick, it was almost impossible to successfully lock on with autofocus to capture the moment when they dived into the water. Almost.
The egrets would find a perch which served as a good vantage point to spot minnows, such as a branch sticking out of the water. When they saw some, they would suddenly spring into action, dragging their talons over the water to stir up the minnows, illustrated by the image below.
Finally, the decisive moment would occur! Without warning, the egret would pop its head underwater, emerging a split second later with a minnow in its beak. I must have taken several hundred photos just to get one sharp image.
Once catching a minnow this way, the egret must have felt pretty impressed with itself, as it proceeded to act as if it could walk on water. Oh wait, it is walking on water! It was fun to watch the egrets strut their stuff after a successful dive, and even more fun to actually get one successful image of this amusing behavior.
So the lesson here is that when you find something special, whether it is a unique wildlife event or a beautiful landscape scene bathed in killer light, keep shooting until the magic is over. Because you might never see it again!