When day’s end brings seas of satin, the birds come!!

Snowy Egret wades into a mercurial Florida Bay


A descending sun can have a spectacular effect on water, especially on those windless days when people love to describe the sea as “glass”. Sometimes the water will look like pewter with silvery grays and blues. Sometimes you’d be more inclined to liken it to quicksilver for the nature of its movement when it seems a type of  surface tension bonds the water into a silky smooth whole. The surface disturbed only by gentle, undulating currents somewhere beneath.  Or maybe it is more like satin with its silvery swirls of disturbance with delicate hints of reflected sky and pale yellow sunlight? No matter how you try and describe the appearance, it is utterly peaceful and even the birds, normally so intent on fishing, seem poised for a moment in the stillness of the sea.


The birds here enjoying the sultry end of day are along Florida Bay, Key Largo, Florida. The first images are of a Snowy Egret wading out into the bay, with a color then a black and white treatment. A Green Heron perched on mangrove prop roots, follows, also with a black and white and a color version. The sun on the water makes such pretty light!

Snowy Egret - Mercurial Florida Bay - Black and White

Green Heron on Mangrove Prop Roots - Key Largo - Black and White

Green Heron- Key Largo-Mangrove Roots


May Peaceful Days and Silvery Seas be Yours!!


~ by Judy on January 19, 2015.

19 Responses to “When day’s end brings seas of satin, the birds come!!”

  1. Wonderful photos. That glassy water is a perfect backdrop for those birds. I find it hard to favor either the monochrome or color version since they are both so good.

  2. I love it when the water looks like that. We were on our inflatable one time heading back very late in the day. The sun was low and behind a thin veil of clouds and the light on the water was glorious. Just like this it was like glass and the quality of the yellow light was surreal…magical. I like the backdrop too and agree that I really like both the color and black and white versions. Often I greatly prefer one over the other, but sometimes I find myself lingering over the views of both.

    Thanks for commenting!!

  3. A great lead-off photo!
    I recall once reading in “National Geographic” that their photographers preferred to shoot in the early morning and late in the day, not anytime near noon, because the sunlight didn’t wash out things but contributed to the visual effects. But they didn’t explain why! While you do.

    • Definitely when you begin to take landscape pictures that you pay attention to where the sun is. And when! Generally the early and late day times offer softer, warmer light and less harsh shadows. But, direction is important too. If I look at a lighthouse from the east in the late afternoon, the colors of sea and sky will be washed out. If I go around the inlet and view with the sun behind me, the sky and sea are dramatically more colorful and beautiful. With people early and late day is flattering while a noon day shot will reveal with harsh shadow every flaw. Yet, there are times when you might want harsh light….like showing off a guys muscles and sixpack…harsh light is not always the enemy and can produce beauty too. And, you know photographers love to label those favourite shooting times..like The Golden Hour is that precious hour before sunset..and The Blue Hour the hour after the sun has gone down when the sky is a rich dark blue before the black of night.

  4. As always, great photos. And you’re right, that quality of water is the perfect foil for the birds you’ve captured.
    Your (poetic) words on water brings clearly to mind why water is used to symbolise the subconscious, the water-surface being the boundary. And we look, and all we can see are reflections from above, while who knows what monsters, or treasure, might lie beneath. I thank you for reminding me of that. 🙂

    • Yes the boundary mirrors what is above and disguises what is below. There is a window, though, in the shadow of the bird. Perhaps that is symbolic too somehow that the detail is in the shadows, that whatever our trouble there are answers. We just have to find the right portal.

  5. It was satin that came to mind: the water draping over the seabed in a way nearly impossible to describe, but quite possible to capture. You’ve proven that.

    Looking at those first two photos again, I see the surface as taffeta, rather than satin. Remember how taffeta would seem to have “fish eyes” if held just right? It’s almost like varnishing a surface with fingerprints or other oils or contaminants. The varnish pulls back, and while the fish eyes are a problem to be solved, they’re also very, very attractive.

    The first photo’s my favorite. I like the bit of color — so subtle, and so beautiful.

    • Oh yeah!! Taffeta!! I agree totally now that I remember taffeta. I guess the big difference being taffeta rustles and its watery look-alike just gently rushes against the shore. The color does have a delicacy to it. The day was rather gray and rainy, but this moment things were clearing but with muted sunlight. The only part of the watery taffeta drapery that doesn’t disguise the seabed with reflection is in the shadow of the bird. But, also if you can see closely, the band where the legs go in, you can see a bit of the yellow toes.

      • You’re right, about the toes! I hadn’t noticed them — or the very, very fine shadows from the feathers’ fringe. It’s always the details that delight!

      • True! I love those details too. Also, the way the water’s distortion has lengthened the bill. Even when you are trying to take a nice picture, there are little things you did not see in the effort to concentrate on your exposure, dof, not blowing out highlights and such. That is what is so glorious about looking at the picture big on the computer afterwards.

  6. Judy your images always have a dream like quality to them, I see you when you share your art, so unique and peaceful. Thanks. Kath.

    • Many things in daily life make me feel far from peaceful and far from having control. I think it must be the peace derived from being for awhile in the natural settings and watching the wildlife in them that you sense. I think this verse of Wendell Berry’s poem, The Peace of Wild Things, says it pretty well:

      “I come into the peace of wild things
      who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
      I come into the presence of still water.
      And I feel above me the day-blind stars
      waiting with their light. For a time
      I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

      Your lovely comment is greatly appreciated!! Thank you so much. If the images themselves can evoke a sense of peace, that is more than I could have hoped for.

  7. I absolutely adore these portraits… The serenity of each scene is just wonderful. And both the B&W and color versions have their own unique beauties….

    • This is where the quietness comes into to play. I find it relaxing to watch the birds and look at them through the viewfinder enjoying the serenity of the scene at the same time. Or just put the camera down and watch.

  8. Superb portraits. The use of the B&W creates a dreamscape atmosphere, beautifully rendered work. 🙂

    • Oh, thank you for visiting and commenting. I thought the silvery water was dreamy and peaceful. I love color so much and yet continue to be seduced by the mood of a black and white or toned treatment so go both directions sometimes! 🙂

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