White Egret with Wind Tossed Aigrettes, a black and white portrait

White Egret - Wind Tossed Aigrettes


I have neglected posting lately due to so many distractions! One of them is that I’ve been hell bent on working on a collection of black and white bird portraits. Not toned or color or any permutation in between, just black and white. White egret images always lend themselves well to such a conversion. Metering off the white so as to not blow out any highlights tends to throw the surroundings into a darker contrast. And that is good. Even when it doesn’t, I adjust to try and simplify the clutter of leaves and branches so there are just some graceful curves of branches or curls of leaves giving context and less tangle.  Course this doesn’t always go simply since I am both particular and indecisive. When am I finished and when do I need to go that one little next adjustment for it to be just right?

In the case of white birds, the issue is always not losing detail in the white and then still have the brightness perfect for the inherent softness of feathers and delicate aigrettes. Too much contrast and too much sharpness will destroy the thing you liked best about an image sometimes.   So this guy I’ll have to do a test print of before I really know whether to notch it up a little. Of course, most of us end up using computers at home and at the office and possibly an iPad or Surface or some other tablet for viewing images and these screens vary in vibrance and brightness. Even if it looks perfect on the screen, in the end you must print.

This image I had apparently ignored for some time and I don’t know why since the pose so lovely with the back ornamental plumes showing so nicely and the action of wind a bonus.

I don’t know how most people make black and white images or if most like to shoot in black and white from the get go. Since I go to all the trouble to shoot in Adobe 1998 for that extended range of color you get, I would be reluctant to give any of that potential up. Although, with raw digital captures I wouldn’t be surprised if a bw capture file actually still has the color information. This I’d have to educate myself on sometime. But, I do love having color when I do a conversion because I can use color sliders to brighten yellow leaves or darken green ones or lighten something red and that way control the look of the black and white. Black and white film photographers would do that with lens filters and get the drama in the capture. A red filter for instance would be used to darken the blue sky and make the clouds pop if the photographer was after that. With Photoshop and digital conversion you can decide later, which might be lazy or might be a life saver for indecisive sorts like me who want to wonder what this would look like, or lets try that!!

Well forgive my ramble and my eyes are truly shot! Don’t hesitate to say so if I need to get out my Tide and brighten my whites with this image. Isn’t that a clever way to say I am STILL undecided if I am finished!!

As Ever,


~ by Judy on August 23, 2014.

20 Responses to “White Egret with Wind Tossed Aigrettes, a black and white portrait”

  1. Stunning photo in black and white. I like it very much. Thank you for sharing the fruit of your dabbling in monochrome.

  2. They look like the ghosts of feathers in the rear.

  3. The photo looks beautiful to me. But of course, you can’t really use me as any sort of judge for black and white anymore. Too much contrast really hurts my eyes – even makes them water. I’m told part of the problem is my slowly increasing cataract. Strange as it sounds, there’s something called “second slight.” The cataract refocuses the light in such a way that your vision actually gets better for a while, but too much light and strong contrast becomes difficult.

    Be that as it may, this one’s terrific. I’m such a doofus — I’ve been increasing text size on some blogs now and then, but it never occurred to me to try that with an image. When I enlarged this 2-3x using C+, the detail just popped off the page! What a wonderful print it will make!

    • That is good to hear especially since you took a close look at it!! This one will definitely be in the collection I am working on. Can’t wait to print the group to make sure they are ok before putting in the gallery and for the project I am working on too. There are a couple of other images from this shoot I think will be very nice to work on as well.

      I do understand about certain contrasty pictures and really bright whites being uncomfortable to view. Even though I don’t have growing cataracts, I can still understand that. In fact, if I relate it to my hearing loss, your aversion to harsh light I have with sound. It is one of my least favourite parts of the loss, what it does to music and how sharp and hurtful sounds can be now. So I can’t judge some audio things on account of that.

  4. Judy, Great image, with very interesting contrast thanks to the brilliant white of the feathers. Jack

    • Thanks Jack! I think the pose displays ornamental plumage looking a lot like the bustle of a ladies wedding dress. Whose to say it is not another case of man imitating nature!

  5. WOW! Just fabulous. I love the black and white. So good!

  6. I always feel very lucky when the bird presents itself so gloriously and I get to snap the shutter!! Glad to get such great input on black and white treatments.

  7. Judy this is a stunning photo, I have a passion for black and white images. I think sometimes we do not need colour to distract us from what we need to see.

    • I do agree and love black and white images,especially where you don’t expect to see them. I truly love color but its absence does cause more focus on nuances of shadow and detail that might get side tracked by the notice of the beautiful colors.

  8. My fair Judy, the headline of this latest blog post made me think you decided to visit “the dark side”. I mean, have you ever seen a better menu entry? “White Egret with Wind Tossed Aigrettes” … not sure what a tossed aigrette salad is, but if it’s “wind tossed”, it’s gotta be expensive! Can I have French Dressing with that? What wine would you suggest? 😉 … Seriously, though; great art comes via your great effort. Even an ole ground pounder like me can appreciate your eye and touch. Kudos!

    • Oh, too funny!! I really have got to be more careful with my post titles!! NEVER thought of taking it that way, but now that you’ve said it, it does sound like a specialty menu item!! In Audubon’s day the Snowy Egret was considered a delicacy, although he sampled many species in the interest of accurate reporting. Maybe they had ‘wind tossed aigrettes’ with that dish? Oh my gosh I will never get that out of my head now!!

      Thanks as always for a quirky take that only you could come up with!! Made my day!!

  9. Beautiful Judy! Looks great in B&W.

    • Hi, Jamie!! So happy you visited and enjoyed the image!! A White Egret with its full complement of back plumes is always such a joy to observe!! A rare case where the bridal train is worn by the guy and the girl!! 🙂

  10. Truly beautiful, Judy, and you are so right about the challenges of the white of egrets. I find swans and egrets the most difficult, not wanting to blow out the highlights, and an egret in flight offers so little time to adjust… Your photo is exquisite. Good luck with your new series!

  11. Ah, I just adore this image! It’s so graceful, balletic…. And the black & white gives it such a lovely drama. Very gentle too, though.

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