Little Blue Heron – Tamiami Trail, Florida: As the Tamiami Trail turns east and crosses southern Florida on its route to Miami, it traverses a great wilderness that is composed of Fackahatchee Strand State Park, Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades National. The trail crosses habitat that include cypress swamps, cypress hammocks and sawgrass prairies. The varied habitat and canal that parallels the highway provides great opportunities for shooting. When I travel to southern Florida, I always make it a point to spend a few days along the two-lane highway to photograph its abundant birds.
When I cross the trail from west to east I typically start around mid to late afternoon. Traveling east along the trail at that time place the sun to my back, which provides perfect illumination for my subjects. This Little Blue Heron was photographed along the stretch of highway that crosses Big Cypress Swamp. The day was waning quickly and the sun was low on the horizon. The scene was overall very dark; only the heron was lit with sunlight. The lighting made the use of auto metering useless. To obtain a correct exposure I used my cameras spotmeter to meter the heron feathers. Once I had an exposure reading I underexposed the feather by 2/3 of a stop, which placed the feather a little darker than a middle tone. By placing the bird’s feathers at the correct tonality the dark water and foliage was properly exposed.
With all said, I never really think too much about the technical aspect of photography when I’m shooting. I have been taking photographs so long that the technical aspects are second nature to me. What I am constantly thinking of is the aesthetics, always looking for a scene, a group of elements that will make a good image. When I see it, I usually only have time to set-up the gear and shoot. If I had to think about the technical, I most likely would miss the shot. I’m glad I didn’t miss this one.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/125 sec. @ f7.1