Great Blue Heron Takeoff

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in Flight - Lake Jackson, Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Florida

I put this image montage together a couple weeks back and wanted to share it.  I’m not totally sure how I feel about it or even if it is exactly what I am after.  I like the concept, and this is my first try.

I was photographing at Lake Jackson in the Prairie Lakes Unit of Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area south of Kissimmee when I saw this Great Blue Heron.  He was too far away for a standard portrait so I decided to try something a little bit different.  Since the bird looked agitated, like it might fly, I decided to try this.

What you are seeing is a series of frames showing the Great Blue Heron preparing for take off and then flying the first few wing beats.  Each frame is stitched together, using the background as a reference.  This allows you to see the path the bird takes as it leaves its perch to fly to the other side of the lake.

What do you think?  Is this a successful image?  Does it work for you?  I want to know!

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  1. Drew, I very much like the concept and it looks like you got a nice spacing between exposures — I assume the camera was stationary and you were shooting continuous mode. It’s hard to judge how well it works as a photograph/image with the size presented here. I believe at a larger size where more detail of the Heron could be seen it would work well.

  2. I like it! Very nice.

  3. @Earl – I have been wanting to implement a lightbox feature into the blog and just haven’t had a chance to do it. Look for it when I get back to NY and have some time to work on the site beyond content. As far as the technicals for the shot go. I was on a tripod but not locked down and I panned with the bird so the background changed. Fortunately, the backgrounds stitched together nicely and then it was just a matter of blending just the bird from each frame into the final composition. The birds are located where they were in each frame with respect to the background. I was shooting continuous at 9 frames per second on the D3 and actually did not use every frame because the birds overlapped. I think it was more like every third frame.

    @Lana – Thanks! Glad you do!

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