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Day #1: The Angel – A Great Egret In Flight

Day #1: The Angel – A Great Egret in Flight

The Photo

Great Egret in flight in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Mysore, India.

Best Nature Photos. Great White Egret in Flight in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Mysore, Karnataka, India. Best Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka. White Herons. Birds in Flight. Nature, Wildlife, Bird, and Landscape Photography by Prathap.

Story Behind the Photo

I went on a photography trip with couple of my photography friends to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, near Mysore, India, few years ago. We were on a boat ride as that’s the primary way to see birds in that sanctuary. We had taken great deal of photographs within an hour of photography during Sunrise.

We asked the boatman to stop midway to get the perfect light on incoming Pelicans that picks up the nesting material from the water. We were all busy taking those photographs. Every now and then I would take a look around and see if anything interesting was happening with other birds. I am as curious as a bird – always looking around!

Great Egrets were flying around the nearby branches. I started photographing them as there was lot of branch hopping going on. The Egret in this photograph took off from one branch and was flying away. As you might be aware, I do not take flying-away shots as there will not be an eye-contact. Just when I thought of considering a different bird to photograph, it made a U-turn!

It is not common for these big birds to turn around so swiftly. It turned around and I took this photograph of a lifetime.

Why do I call it photograph of a lifetime? Because I have not been able to capture this pose of a Great Egret despite having more than 2000 photographs of this species. Not even close to this!

This is my most memorable photograph of a Great Egret. The fun part is; none of my friends even realized what happened there.  After seeing this photograph one of my friends was unable to believe that I took this photograph while he was sitting right next to me.

Technical Information

Body + Lens: Nikon D7000 + Nikkor 70-300mm VR Lens @ 210mm

ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100

 Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec

Exposure Compensation: EV 0

Have a Great Day Ahead!

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Prathap is a professional nature photographer and founder of Nature Photography Simplified blog. He aims to simplify every photography concept to help beginners and amateur photographers.

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This Post Has 36 Comments
  1. hi prathap

    excellent shot. How did you manage a black background. Your f-stop is also not that low to create a bark background.

    by any chance did you spot meter the bird

    1. Hi Gopal, that’s a brilliant question. I would have mentioned it in the post. I have used Pattern Metering which is similar to Evaluative or Matrix metering now.
      The background branches were turning out to be bright grey which were competing with the Great Egret. In order to avoid it, I have toned them down considerably in post processing stage. Another thing to add is; this is probably the first photograph which I post processed to get the best possible result.

  2. Kindly throw some light on the camera gear you were using.
    This is one of the best photographs l have ever seen.
    Please a few comments on your post photo editing.

  3. Beautiful capture Prathap. Two strong points for me are the way the light is coming through the wing feathers and the spread of the tail feathers.

    Your plan to display a photo every day with the story behind the photo is great and very much appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing ‘Story behind photo’ taken by you.. Awaiting for your next photo.

    could you please tell AF mode at which photo taken
    (Single/AI Focus/AI Servo for canon. Noted that you have used Nikon Camera)

    1. Dear Sudhakaran, I am glad that you liked the concept. I was using AF-C on Nikon (same as AI Servo on Canon). I would recommend using AF-C or AI Servo for action photographs.

  5. Thanks for starting this series, Prathap. Great background info on this superb shot. The question about the black background (which I was wondering about) was already answered in the comments. Keep them coming, please!

  6. Mr. Pratap, i am a regular visitor to your site ever since you started publishing your Articles.. I think you are the only one who publishes this kind of articles where you talk about how the picture was taken along with story behind it. This is really helpful for ametures like me to know about the ground realities while shooting.. A great initiative and thanks a lot.

    Having said that, i would like to know.. that in the picture… the legs of the bird are out of focus and covered in dark.. does ity really matter for a photographer (for some of the photos or all photos) to get each and every detail of the subject within the frame clearly.. If any detail of the subject is not clear/sharp in my photos, i feel that it is a bad picture.

    Please throw some light on this subject..

    1. Dear Ravi Kumar, Thanks a lot for your kind words. I am glad that my blog posts are helpful.
      To answer your question, the legs are actually in focus, but they are not neatly defined due to the darker background. Because of the sidelight, one portion of the legs is almost dark and doesn’t stand out.

      Most important thing to focus is the eye of the bird. If you can get sharp focus on the eye and the rest of the bird is out of focus, then it is OK; but not the other way around. Sharpness will not be of a concern if you are shooting a panning shot.

      You may not have to worry much on getting every detail as sharp as possible. With right techniques you would eventually know what is best for any particular situation. Above all, if you are happy with what you have got, then don’t worry about the rest.

  7. Prathap. I like so much your articles. Here in South of Brazil we have herons, egrets and seagulls. For me is easy to take photos of them because my house is two blocks far from the beach. I’ll follow your “Photo Diary”. Congratulations.

    1. Dear Joao Henrique Hollerbach, That’s very nice to know. Herons and Egrets are my favorite subjects. I must have taken almost 5000+ photograph of these species and I will take more for sure 🙂
      Here is my suggestion to you – try focusing on making some of the best photographs of these species. Go there as often as you can and photograph them repeatedly until you get the best photograph. Once you get the best photograph, make much better one. You will realize that more you photograph the same species, more you fall in love with them (because you would know them in person!) and better will be your photographs.
      When I write about the Green Heron and Great Blue Heron stories in my Photo Diary, I will throw more light on to it.

  8. Nice sharp photo. I noticed that your speed was 1/1250. Would you say this is the speed you typically try to shoot birds in flight, or does it vary? Can you get as sharp a focus of a flying bird if the speed is much lower?

    1. Dear Colin, Thank you. Generally, the Shutter Speed would vary according to lighting conditions. Sharp focus depends on the speed of the bird, focusing accuracy, Shutter Speed and your hand-holding techniques.

      To avoid the camera shake try to make sure your Shutter Speed is >= (1 / Effective Focal Length). Say you have 300mm lens on a Cropped Frame Body, you would generally need a Shutter Speed of atleast 1/500 (1/300 * 1.5 for Nikon or 1/300 * 1.6 for Canon).

      If the speed at which the bird is flying is more than the Shutter Speed, then you cannot freeze the action. It might be wise to try choosing Shutter Speed of more than 1/1000th of a second which would usually be good to freeze most of the action.

  9. Thank you for your answer about shutter speed. Maybe I missed this in here, but do you shoot with your camera on shutter speed priority, aperture priority, automatic, or full manual?

    1. Hi Colin, Most often I use Aperture Priority and Manual Mode. For almost 4 years I used only Manual Mode. I was so good at it and was praised by my friends for my instinctive nature of changing the settings on the fly. From past two years I have resorted to using Aperture Priority mode as it serves my purpose very well, especially for Bird Photography.
      I would suggest everyone to use the mode that helps you to concentrate more on image making than more on the settings. For sure you need to know all the modes and be very good at using them as the need arises.

  10. Hi Prathap,
    Great that u have started the photo dairy that will be of immense value for amatuers like me.
    Good luck buddy

  11. Hi Prathap,

    I am glad that I have subscribed to your email updates! I may not make much comments but be sure that I am digesting every word that has been posted. I have just started photography as a hobby at age 63! I bought my first Canon SLR when I was in my 30s! Somehow due to work and seperation we were parted.

    Retirement came and I dug out my “old things” and behold! My old Canon stared me in the face! Needless to say I was overcomed with joy and sadness at the same time. It was a Canon 100QD and 2 lenses, a 28 80usm and 75 300usm. Since then I have sent them all for servicing as they were still in good working order after 30 over years! However it was a film camera And in our area there isn’t a single shop that sells films!
    To cut a story short, I bought a new Canon 600D with kit lens 18 55 iS and also Sigma 70 300mm. Yes I’m ready to restart my old hobby though at an older age but it’s never too late to enjoy phography which help us to enjoy and treasure the beautiful nature that surrounds us on this planet.
    Once again, thank you for your help and also others who have created and hosted sites like your for us to learn and share with friends.

    With regards and wishing you every success.

    Lionel R. Brodie

    1. Hi Lionel Brodie,

      First of all, sorry about the late reply. I am not sure, how I missed your comment.

      Thank you so much for your kind words and best wishes. I am so glad to learn about you. You are absolutely right in saying it is never too late. Your enthusiasm is commendable. I wish I am as fit and enthusiastic as you are at 62 years!

      I am glad that you are reading all my articles and enjoying them. I hope to converse with you in the future too. Do let us know about your progress.

      Thank you!

  12. Prathap, This is really a great picture. If I remember well, you had taken a similar one during our Ranganathittu trip 4 years back. Perhaps it was the same one?

    You’ve named it well – It’s really an Angel with such a beautiful wing pattern and a serene look that looks like new hopes descending on us from the sky!

    1. You are absolutely correct Madhu. I took it on the same trip. What an amazing trip to remember. Thank you for adding colors with amazing comment. I am glad that you are reading my posts.

  13. INCREDIBLE. You are a fine and generous artist. I love the big birds, and especially find the Great Blue Herons on our trips to the Florida gulf coast.
    Thanks, Prathap. Carolyn

    1. Thank you for such kind words Carolyn. I love Great Blue Herons too. I have many many photographs of them which will make it to photo stories in the near future. I hope you like them too 🙂
      I have dreams to go to Florida and many many other places in North America. I hope those days are not very far…

  14. Hi Prathap, It is a while since we have conversed as I am getting snowed under with photography related emails. The photo of the angel is amazing and don’t you just feel that heart warming feeling when a great shot such as this comes off. Pelicans are my favourite bird to photograph and although I have been lucky I am always after that one shot. All the best My friend. Ron from Australia.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Ron. It’s been a long time indeed. I hope everything is going well with you.
      Sometimes it’s quite true. I am fortunate to have those spectacular moments several times 🙂 Pelicans are magnificent and I have a pre-visualized photo of a pelican mind. I am after it for quite some time now. I hope to get it one day and share it with you all.

  15. Hi Prathap..I have been a diligent reader of all your blogs..your blogs inspire me to the core to learn photography..pls don’t stop you are the source of inspiration to many….cheers to you and cheers to all the wonderful photos you take..I am putting some time everyday to learn and implement the skills I learn..thank you for touching our heart..

    My humble gear includes Nikon D5200, Nikon 50mm 1.8, Tamron 70-300, Nikon 18-55 kit lens, Benro 600ex tripod.

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