Great Egret's Angelic Wings

If I were asked to paint the wings of an angel, I would use the Great White Egret as my model. Their grace and pure white color seem like a perfect fit.

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My third photo in a series that features the Great White Egret with its wings extended and lit by the morning sun. Naples, Florida, February 2020.

I would love to hear from you, my readers, on your favorite image of the three. Here are the other two:

This image shows the Great White Egret with wings outstretched. Naples, FL 2020.
As the Great White Egret settles in the littoral plants, its large white wings are seen in profile. Naples, FL 2020.

Egret in Profile

Wildlife doesn’t pose, and it doesn’t wait for you. To become a successful wildlife photographer, you need to be prepared, have some knowledge of animal behavior, be prepared and anticipate what may happen next. (These rules also apply to candid photography of people too!)

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Early Monday morning, this Great White Egret was fishing in this golf course lake. I was following his movements with my camera set at 1/1000 second and 600mm lens focused, poised for the moment that the bird stretched his wings. I was happy with the backlighting of the sun.

The other axiom I say to myself often is: the more often you go out, the luckier you get. Put another way, if you stay home, you won’t get the shot, for sure!

Cleared for Take-Off

Watching and waiting for this Great White Egret to take off, I was rewarded by this sighting of outstretched white wings. With my Nikon camera shutter set at 1/1000 second, I was prepared to capture this image to share with you.

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Early morning sun shines through the white egrets wing feathers, as the egret lifts off from the littoral plants.

Since I also set my Nikon D800 on “continuous-high,” I have two more great frames to share. You can help me decide which one is best. I will submit one or two of these photos to the Royal Poinciana Members’ Photography Contest. The submitted photos have to be shot on the property.

Mirror, Mirror

I don’t think this Great Egret gives a hoot about his reflection, but I do! I was pleased with the detail in the reflection — which is equal if not better than the detail in the egret himself.

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One of those times that I realize the Nikon 70-200mm lens was worth every penny. Great Egret seen in Pelican Bay, Naples, Florida.

I will upload the full size (63MB) image to my website, if you want to make a print. The detail in those white feathers would really show off in a large print!

Encore: Great Egret in Flight

Today is a rainy day in Southwest Florida, and I’m packing up for my own migration back to Pennsylvania. I’m definitely sad to leave. Looking back on my photographs in the Everglades, I found another series of three photos of the Great Egret lifting off from the swamp, showing its beautiful wings outstretched.

Keeping my camera poised on the Great Egret standing, I caught the moment that its feet left the water. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.
Observe the feathers stretched out to create a wide fan shape, as the Great Egret clears the trees. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, April 2019.
Final view of the Great Egret from below, its neck tucked in for flight. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

Silent and Strong

On my recent visit to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I challenged myself to photograph the Great Egret and the Great Blue Heron in flight. Both wading birds are large and beautiful while standing still or wading in the shallows, but their look is entirely different when they take flight and display their enormous wing spans.

My friend Caroline, who accompanied me on this 15-mile bike trip, noticed the exquisite silence around us as we observed the birds and watched them fish and eventually take flight. I needed to keep my lens focused on the bird, as without warning and without a sound, it would take flight. If I looked away, I would be too late to capture take-off. Freezing action and maintaining focus on the egret in flight was a serious challenge!

Here is a series of three photographs taken in quick succession. I enjoy the brilliant feathers from each angle.

Silent lift-off of the Great Egret in the grass of the Everglades. Shark Valley, South Florida.
American Egret uses its massive wings in a graceful arch to gain more height. Its long black legs extend behind. Everglades National Park, Florida.
Great Egret tucks its neck and reaches for the sky as it flies above the Everglades in Florida.

Egret Composition

This great egret wading near a mangrove tree makes a serene scene. When you take a careful look, can you see the circular bands of light reflecting up on the egret?

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The great egret stands alone in the still water, accompanied only by his reflection.

My favorite part of this image is the composition, in which the strong vertical lines complement the horizontal lines. In addition, the generous amount of negative space adds to the simplicity and the serenity of the image. The color palette is also simple and natural.

What do you see? What do you like?