“Egret” by Pauline Fowler

Over the last few years photographing birds has become my greatest pleasure, and among all of the birds I like to photograph, Egrets are at the top of my list!

I have photographed them in many places around the world, such as Africa and South America, but these were a lot closer to home, in Norfolk!

I had actually gone out to photograph Storks, as I have yet to take an image of one that I am happy with, so I had set myself that as a project. They have beautiful faces but I just have failed to get any emotion or interest in my pictures!

I saw the nest against a wall, with a beautiful top light… but empty. I took a few shots of the nest as it was an interesting shape, and played around with some settings then turned my attention to something else.

Just as I was about to walk away, the first of two egrets came and landed.

As soon as you see something just right, and you know it, the jolt of excitement and the intake of breath is a light headed feeling indeed!

He (I know, that was an assumption as I haven’t the knowledge to sex an Egret, but call it instinct…) landed rather clumsily, then righted himself and pretended as though it had been a perfect landing. I caught this Egret in the most beautiful of positions, with the wind just lifting the fine feathers on his breast and wings…the overhead light picked out all of the shapes and forms on his body and head and he posed like a Vogue model for me! He lifted twigs, fluffed his wings, and generally acted as though he was cleaning house before the wife came home!

Within five minutes the second egret came, and I spent a happy 20 minutes snapping away as they preened their feathers and altered branches, and did the most beautiful of slow motion dances for me, one behind the other in an ever changing combination of shapes. The wind was in my favor… just enough to add an extra bit of interest as they shook their heads and pirouetted around each other.

After the second had flown away, I photographed the last one again as he settled down, this time in the lower corner of the nest which was diametrically opposite the largest curve of branches…

Sometimes the Gods listen to the prayers of photographers, of that I am sure! As much as I was lucky the birds, I was also incredibly lucky with the shape of the nest and twigs, a large and graceful asymmetrical sweep of branches and twigs that were a perfect setting for the birds themselves, and having a plain wall was a bonus!

When I got back home to the computer, I took some time and selected the frame I responded to the most ( out of many, I might add! ), used the healing tool to clean up some imperfections on the wall, played a while with some dodge and burn tools, adjusted the contrast, then added a blue tone.

I usually try and angle for a catchlight in a bird’s or animal’s eye when I photograph them, but this one seemed to work so well without, that I chose it over several others… The sharp angle of the beak coming down from the head onto the chest was enough interest as a central point, the flare of the feathers, and the feeling of utter peace… it all felt just right!

I have since worked on and completed three images out of that day’s shooting, and although I have treated each image as a stand alone, I suppose they could be a series! They work together, even though the color tones are different in each one, and I have cropped them all slightly differently.

I have had them printed up in a heavy cotton Fine Art paper, and all of them have come out well, I’m glad to say. I still feel as though there are more images to be had out of that photographic session, as the positions they danced in for me that day, in that setting, were take after take of of wondrous shapes and emotions, a beautiful ballet between the two birds, and the solo birds just as enthralling.

One day…

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The position of the bird, and the top light emphasizing the form.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I am so happy with this image, I truly don’t and wouldn’t want to change it!

Pauline Fowler shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Pauline Fowler, Norfolk, United Kingdom


Equipment and Settings

Nikon D850 + Nikon 200-500 VR lens
f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 320

Comments (23):

  1. Darcy Rose

    August 26, 2020 at 20:02

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the behind the picture story. As someone who also loves photographing birds, including snowy egrets, I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen! My life is richer because you shared it with our group.

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 26, 2020 at 21:08

      That is one incredible compliment! Thank you so much!!!!❤️

  2. Nigel Walker

    August 26, 2020 at 21:29

    A great photo and a lovely explanation of how it came into existence. I am pleased that they have been successful for you (I saw the other ones you had selected too). I gives encouragement when these things happen. Congratulations.

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 26, 2020 at 23:24

      That is a truly lovely comment Nigel – thank you so much!❤️❤️

  3. Zanne D’Anna

    August 27, 2020 at 03:09

    “As soon as you see something just right, and you know it, the jolt of excitement and the intake of breath is a light headed feeling indeed!”
    I love this quote from your article!Yes,Yes,Yes! And you captured it beautifully!

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 27, 2020 at 07:50

      Thanks Zanne!! It’s hard to describe, but you got it!!!❤️❤️❤️

  4. David Rivette

    August 27, 2020 at 06:06

    Thanks for your story about this gorgeous photo.. We all strive for our photos to be truly artistic and this one exceeds expectations. Thank you for sharing..

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 27, 2020 at 07:51

      Thanks so much David!

  5. John

    August 27, 2020 at 08:01

    This is a beautiful image. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 27, 2020 at 11:48

      Thanks so much John!❤️

  6. Joseph

    August 27, 2020 at 14:02

    Thank you Pauline for sharing your photographic talent with us. I studied your image for some time and was reminded when I did table top product shots. The softness in the light lends grace and poise to a delicate pose. I must say it also reminds me of an actor after giving an intense performance on stage and is taking a well deserved bow to a standing ovation. Kudos to you!

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 27, 2020 at 23:56

      What a fab comment!!! I can see the actor now!!👍😁

  7. Sharon Cheema

    August 27, 2020 at 16:21

    This photograph has an ethereal beauty that evokes an emotional almost spiritual response. It is almost as if the bird is posing as a ballet dancer might yet it is we humans who mimic birds in our art forms. Thank you for sharing this wonderful image and the story of how you captured it.

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 29, 2020 at 09:57

      That is a very beautiful comment Sharon!❤️

  8. Alison Gross

    August 27, 2020 at 16:48

    Hi,I can relate to your excitement.Over the past year I’ve ventured into wild life photography and it’s so self rewarding.I live across the street frthe Atlantic Ocean in brigantine n.j. and visit the beach daily.In august most of the birds are molting so I’ve been able to collect their feathers besides catching action photos.I would luv to share my images with u .. if you’re interested.

    • Pauline Fowler

      August 29, 2020 at 09:59

      It is one of the best things I can imagine doing! Also very frustrating! The number of times all I have photographed is the back end of an animal as it disappears out of frame! But I love it!👍❤️

  9. Margie White

    August 29, 2020 at 02:47


    • Pauline Fowler

      August 29, 2020 at 09:59

      Thanks so much Margie!❤️

  10. Elaine Taylor

    September 1, 2020 at 17:29

    I love everything about this post. The image is just beautiful.

  11. Elizabeth

    September 2, 2020 at 11:38

    I’ll bet these are damn sexy in print. I could envision a tryptic working quite well. Fabulous editing and appreciation for what nature reveals if you look.

  12. Alison Hemmings

    September 9, 2020 at 22:46

    It’s a breathtakingly beautiful (I notice that it was for you too!) photograph. I’d love to see the others in this series.
    Best of luck for the future with your brilliant Nikon (have loved them since I had “Beginners camera of the year” for my 21st birthday).

  13. Chris Calohan

    September 19, 2020 at 15:47

    Having shot wildlife, predominately waterfowl/egrets and herons I can truly appreciate the photo opportunities these magnificent birds provide. Your image is quite striking.

  14. Randy

    September 22, 2020 at 00:40

    Wonderful image and a great composition for that type of bird.


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