I have been at least once every month during the summer in the Green Island Wetlands, next to the Mississippi River, and today was probably my last summer visit. Other events lie ahead of us this month and before we know it will be duck hunting season. Although part of the wetlands are a preserve, the access to these parts is limited and already today the dyke that has often the best photo locations was closed for cars. Sure, I don’t shy away from hiking, even with tripod and heavy camera and lens combination on my shoulder, but water fowl, egrets, or herons will most likely fly away before someone even comes close. The “mobile blind” is the best way to go, with other words, stay in your dam car if you like the make a photo that makes halfway sense ;-)
It was obviously a productive season. I saw quite a few juvenile Wood Ducks and dozens of Killdeer tried to find food in areas with short vegetation, like the parking lots of the wetlands.
The Great Egret is the easiest to spot but not every bird stays in place when a car gets relatively close. There was very little direct sun today, which is ideal for shooting these beautiful egrets while they stand in the water and hunt for fish, frogs, or aquatic insects.
One of the easiest birds to photograph here in the Mississippi Valley is the Great Blue Heron. I think it is the perfect subject for someone who just starts with wildlife photography. Not that they all stay in place if you come close, but their large eye makes it easy to focus on. Even more important, the pattern on their chest provides great contrast for locking on the focus sensor. The eye has to be sharp or the picture goes to the trash can. Remember, the chest and the eye are almost in the same focal plane. If you can’t focus on the eye, use the chest to get a sharp image of the bird.