Snowy Egrets like to stand on the lower lip of culverts where water moves from one pond or channel to the next at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The moving water carries fish, and the fish are easy prey as they dump disorientated out of the culvert. Why hunt when you can stand still and wait for the food to be delivered?

I saw this one and knew it had real possibilities. White bird. Black background. There was no safe stopping for several hundred yards so I walked back with my digiscoping rig.

Of course, white bird on black background poses an real problem for the camera’s exposure system. I cranked the EV compensation to -2 (as far as it will go). As you see, I still lost the brightest highlights, but I doubt I could have fond a better exposure by going manual. The contrast range is simply beyond what the sensor can capture, and I wanted to keep the white bird white, after all.

The black background turns the image into a study in shape and texture, almost a still life. It looks like something much more contrived than it is: simply a white bird standing in the mouth of culvert. The Snowy Egret is certainly one of God’s most elegant creations, and this image brings out all that elegance.

Sony DSC N1 behind the eyepiece of a Zeiss Diascope 85FL spotting scope. F8.0 @ 1/250th @ ISO 64. Programed Auto. Selective Spot Focus and -2 EV.

Recovery for highlights in Lightroom. Just a bit of Vibrance and Clarity and the Sharpen portrait preset.

From the Space Coast Birding Gallery.

For the bird in a wider context, see this image.


1 Response to “1/26/2009”

  1. 1 Wendy
    01/26/2009 at 7:56 am

    I really enjoy looking at your photos, it is a real treat to see them.
    Thank you for explaining them to us beginner’s

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