Photographing a Great Blue Heron

One of the aspirations behind this blog is to learn how to take better pictures, especially of the birds who live in estuarine environments.

IMG_0426 Best GBH


Bob Noble who blogs at Bob’s Eyes has taken a lot of good photographs in the Russian River Estuary. He has offered me some hints:

  1. Be Patient
  2. Be Still
  3. Get Close

All three of these are hard for me to do, but I’m learning.

On Halloween, right after launching my kayak I noticed a Great Blue Island standing on the shore of Penny Island almost directly across from the ramp. I eased over so the sun would be behind me as I stopped paddling. I hoped to slowly drift in closer to the GBH. It worked! I didn’t scare the heron and it kept watching for its breakfast.

The heron made one unsuccessful attempt at catching a fish in the 30 minutes or so that I sat watching.


6 thoughts on “Photographing a Great Blue Heron

  1. Hi Dan, It’s like slow down and smell the roses. Here’s another tip. We boaters have a bit of a problem with not ever being still on the water, even when you think the boat is still, it’s always going up and down, or side to side. I’ve found that taking pictures shooting to the sides of boats doesn’t always work out and they are often blurred. To prevent this problem, especially when moving, shoot straight ahead or go in reverse and shoot and photos may turn out better. Shooting sideways when moving means the camera has to replace a lot more pixels, as compared to shooting in a coming or going direction.

  2. Here’s another one.
    When you first see a subject start taking some pictures right away, even if you think you are far from the subject. Automatic is best. After you get some, move closer if it’s ok and continue shooting. Once you think you have some pics, you can do some composing. You never know when wild life is going to move and disappear, usually in a split second. I’ve watched many people spend a lot of time trying to get a pic just right on their screen and lose it when their subject disappears.

  3. Those are both good ideas. Thanks. Next time I go out, I’ll put them in practice. Actually, I’ve learned to be a pretty quick draw. My problem is putting the camera away soon before the animal does something interesting.

  4. Hi Dan,
    I was thinking today while out paddling that I needed to state the most important tip of all. I recently was at some web page that was giving out professional photo tips. I read them all and was thinking he didn’t state the most important one, which should of been the last one. We aren’t taking wedding pictures and most of their tips were for that purpose.

    The last tip should be, break all the rules. Breaking the rules can get one a more artsy type picture sometimes. Taking wild life pictures, one can’t always follow the rules anyway and we are very fortunate to be taking digital pictures as we don’t have much wasted if a picture doesn’t turn out. Yes, even shoot into the sun.

  5. I think that you must be pretty pleased with the photograph!

    The camera I use is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet. It’s a Panasonic DMC – FT2. It is not an overly expensive camera and the same size as most small automatic digital cameras. I bought it to take the perpetual worry away about getting the camera wet with salt or fresh water when I am either sailing or kayaking. It has a high quality Leica Lens which takes reasonable quality photographs. I am not sure how I would get on with a large camera with a telephoto lens? What camera are you using Dan?

  6. Hi, Alden—

    Yes I am pleased with the photograph. I’m using a camera that’s new to me, a Canon SX-60 HS. It’s a point-and-shoot that resembles an SLR.


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