With my last job, I traveled constantly. It was a blessing and a curse. It was great because I was able to see a lot of the United States without paying for travel. The bad part was that I had spend most of the day working! If I was lucky, I would have a day off during the week, and could either sleep or go take some photos.

One of these trips took me to Florida’s southwest coast. I worked my way up from Naples to St Petersburg – and had most weekends off! This gave me opportunity to see a good amount of Florida’s ‘wild life’.

The image taken here was shot on Sanibel Island.  It’s a beautiful spot and has is home to the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has a great drive through area that allows you to stop and bird watch or fish, or just relax.  This particular egret was in an area partially hidden from the road.  I found him and got comfortable.

Shooting white birds isn’t the easiest thing.  If I relied on my camera’s meter, it would have overexposed the bird so that the background would be brighter.

Overexposed Egret

Oh oh!  That didn’t work!  Luckily, this guy wasn’t bothered by me.  I was somewhat hidden and he was looking for lunch.  I was already under exposing by 2/3 of a stop – so I had to go further.

This next photo is shot at 1-2/3 under.

Slightly better Egret

Ok, this is a little better.  Still, if you look at his forehead, it’s totally while and has no detail.  At this point, I was still trying to use the leaves at the top and the rocks at the bottom as a frame while capturing the bird and its reflection.

After shooting a few more – the egret started moving.  He’s also flapped his wings a little, so I am still shooting at this point and now I have something a little different.

Sanibel Egret

Well, I’ve been shooting for 1/2 an hour.  Digital cameras rock!  I’ve shot a lot frames, and the bird has been a great model.  I just keep waiting for ‘the shot’.

After moving to the new spot, my egret buddy is starting to groom itself.  Here’s a larger image (click the image below to see it) that will show more of the detail.

Sanibel Egret

This is getting close to what I want now.  I’m saving the detail in the bird, he’s moving around a little, and he’s standing on an interesting surface.

Seventeen minutes later, I get the shot that I posted at the top of the page

Sanibel Egret Final

I hung out with my feathered friend for a a few more minutes – but he didn’t ruffle his feathers or pose dramatically again.

All told, I enjoyed about 30 minutes in this bird’s company.  By wildlife shooting standards, that’s a very short time – some photographers can spend months waiting to get a perfect shot.  But this was my day off, and I wanted to see more of the area.

Here’s another image from this moment in time.  I was shooting some fish that were in the same area and came out with a fun abstract image:

abstract fish

About 12 feet from where I first found the egret, his heron was fishing as well.  He stayed in the same spot and never came away from the branches.

hiding heron

This was a great day and just writing this has brought back a lot of memories.  If you are every close to Sanibel Island (near Fort Myers) – you need to plan a few hours to visit this incredible preserve.

Thanks for reading.

All images were shot with a Nikon D300 and a Nikon 18-200 lens (my ‘traveling for work’ lens)