Great Egrets in varying light conditions

/, Florida, Fort De Soto County Park, Great Egrets/Great Egrets in varying light conditions

Landing Great Egret in golden morning lightLanding Great Egret in golden morning light – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Photography depends on light and for bird photography the best light is often at dawn, just after the sun rises, late afternoon and just before the sun goes down. The best light can be fleeting though so it is always best to photograph as much as you can during the “golden hours”.

The Great Egret above was photographed during not long after the sun had risen and the kiss of gold of the rising sun can still be seen on the egret’s white plumage. Just a touch, but still evident.

Great Egret in pastel predawn lightGreat Egret in pastel predawn light – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 240mm, natural light

When I lived in Florida I was quite often at my shooting location before dawn for a few reasons, one was that I enjoyed the solitude I found before the crowd swarmed the beach, secondly I loved to watch the sun rise and finally for the opportunity to photograph birds in predawn light.

Predawn light is soft and when there is water in the frame the colors are often pastel in hue. This Great Egret was photographed before the sun had actually risen over the horizon and to my delight the water reflected the predawn, pale blue sky. Not long after this was taken the light changed as the sun rose and everything took on that “golden” glow.

A Great Egret and a stormy skyA Great Egret and a stormy sky – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 300mm, natural light

The light before a storm comes in can be dramatic, lighting up the foreground while dark clouds form and roll in. The light the morning I photographed this Great Egret was that kind of light. The egret glowed in front of the brooding clouds in the background. This light was fleeting too because not long after I photographed the egret clouds formed to the east and the light changed for a short while.

You might even say photographers chase the light, I know I do.

Life is good.


All photos taken at Fort De Soto between 2008 and 2009


  1. Utahbooklover February 23, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Wonderful images Mia and yes, the light makes such a difference. Thanks for the info.

  2. Carroll Tarvin February 22, 2015 at 8:23 am

    I am almost as fascinated by your descriptions of your work as I am about your photography. You have enriched my life through your work. Thank you.

  3. Patty Chadwick February 22, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Seeing these beautiful birds any time is exciting, but especially catching them in what you call “golden” light or what I call “sweet light”…light can be so darned frustrating. Great images!

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