Herons Over Here


Heron's size makes them a good subject for photographing but they are startled very easily. I first started photographing them 2 years ago. My first stop was at the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Corvallis, Oregon.

The afternoon became overcast while I was exploring the refuge so it became more challenging as the day went on. At that time I was using a Canon 7D, a 70-200 F4 L IS lens, and a 2X extender. By getting to know the area I started learning the spots the blue and white herons would land. I had one fly almost directly overhead when I was starting to loose the light. I very quickly swung my camera up into the sky to get a few shots off. Since they were grainier shots it was best in post to make them into more artistic black and white images.

My second spot I've been frequenting more recently is Delta Ponds in Eugene, Oregon. A couple white and blue herons call the ponds home. These shots were another late in the day visit after the sun was no longer hitting the ponds. I was standing on the banks looking down on the water.

I went back to Delta Ponds to test some new gear. The shots below were taken near sunset with a Canon 6D, a 70-200 F2.8 L IS II lens, and a 2X extender. I was using a monopod and very carefully moved forward a couple feet at a time, while pausing in between, in order to get closer to the water's edge and not startle the herons.

Some tips for photographing birds:

* Use spot metering to expose the bird correctly, especially white birds.

* Set your camera to continuous burst mode to make sure you can get that take off or landing shot sequence and AI servo mode for focusing.

* Use a monopod or tripod to help get steady shots and take the weight of the lens off your arms because you might be waiting for the shot you want for long periods of time.

* Learn their environment, their behaviors, and typical landing areas. Move slowly into position and be patient.

Gear used: Canon 7D, Canon 6D, 70-200 F4 L IS lens, 70-200 F2.8 L IS II lens, 2X extender