Green Heron – Big Cypress Preserve

Green Heron - Spiky Hairdo-Big CypressThis Green Heron has a bit of a punk attitude despite the
 knock-kneed  stance!! Well, it is the hairdo!!

The Green Heron is a common resident of the South Florida wetlands–A species I have shown probably a few too many times in other settings, such as along Florida Bay among the mangrove roots, or fishing from pond apple trees in wetland areas. This fellow dropped in on me while I was on the lookout for alligators. The winter cypress forest offers its backdrop of grays and muted mossy greens, a pale background to contrast the shimmery iridescence of the Green Heron’s natural coloring. Some call this the Green-Backed Heron for those glorious back feathers!

The community of wildlife in the Big Cypress Preserve is abundant and varied. My last few posts have featured white egrets, black vultures, a snowy egret, alligators and now the green heron which landed nearby…all from the same outing! It was an unbelievably great day!!

For those intending to visit South Florida or local photographers, bird watchers, hikers, and anyone who just loves the Big Cypress Preserve Area and has never explored the 27 mile scenic drive that loops just off of Tamiami Trail south of Monroe Station here is a map for your information. The images from my last few posts were taken along this road. Loop Road is not far from Clyde Butcher’s Ochopee Gallery and so a trip to Loop Road can include a visit to his wonderful gallery of Everglades fine art!! Not to be missed if you want to see something special!!

Loop Road - Cypress Preserve Map

Click on the Map for more information about Loop Road.

Green Backed Heron

Handsome iridescent green feathers earns this small
heron its name, the Green-Backed Heron!

Green Heron against Cypress Background

Green Heron - Cypress Setting

This shot, with its muted green and lavender palette
seemed like a work of art in its setting.

Green Heron Oil Filter Treatment

An experiment using Photoshop's Oil Filter on the last image
 to see how a natural picture might work with such a
treatment. This will be fun to learn.


~ by Judy on March 19, 2016.

15 Responses to “Green Heron – Big Cypress Preserve”

  1. Amazing birds. Amazing photos. Amazing you. A wonderful start to my Sunday.

    • Not just Sunday…but first day of Spring!! How great is that!!?? I am sure you will be out on wonderful walk and see all the signs.

  2. Your wonderful post and photos make me want to go visit Big Cypress sooner rather than later. I have yet to see a Green Heron around here.

    • Cypress swamp areas are truly filled with wonderful sights. It is not always the same either. I find the alligators are easier to see in the winter for example since they will come up to sun themselves. In the heat of summer I think under the water is cooler for them. Birds, you just have to see what drops in. Florida’s Big Cypress is one of the best places though. Because of summer heat and mosquitoes I think winter and early spring are best for these visits.

  3. The coloring on these birds is so beautiful. Terrific shots, Judy!

    • The light on those greens is really pretty. With green heron it is more obvious. But, some birds black feathers will have a green sheen too when the light hits just right. Woodstork black feathers have a green sheen for example.

  4. It’s such fun to see the green heron in a natural setting. Of course our marinas are “natural,” too, but a dozen herons all sitting on dock lines look pretty much the same: and all bent over, focused on that next fish.

    The detail you achieve is just remarkable. Do you use a tripod, or are these handheld? I’ve read that a faster shutter speed helps with birds, as it eliminates movement, but then, of course, there are other adjustments that have to be made. At this point, once I have all the adjustments made, the bird has moved on — silly birds!

    That last photo, with the oil treatment, is interesting, but I’m less fond of it. The texture keeps catching my eye, and drawing it away from the bird. Still, it’s fun to experiment. I have an “old canvas” filter in one of my free processing programs that can transform a photo into something that does look like it should be hanging in an art gallery. Even ten years ago, I’m not sure all of this was available.

    • I understand that dilemma on ‘natural” and somehow always felt the image was removed from nature when the bird was on a boat or a dock. So it was easy to take pleasure in being in the wilderness and getting those backgrounds. But, truly the bird on the boat is no less natural than the one perched on the cypress limb. Over time I became less concerned with that perception and enjoy the images for their own sake whatever the composition is. I think we just have our personal favourites and getting into nature is more than the image; it is the quiet or small sounds, the smells and the personal feeling of renewal. It is all good.

      In truth, I have never taken a bird picture with a tripod. I tend to use the tripod for more static things like choosing the foreground for a sunset and getting ready for a slow shutter speed with a small aperture for good dof. Your question on shutter speed vs aperture for birds is that it is always a balancing act. Birds can be quick so that necessitates a faster shutter speed. But, then if the light is not very bright, then you sacrifice depth of field with your larger aperture that goes with the fast SS. If the light is plenty bright, I concentrate on good focus on the bird and the fastest SS that will give me a dof say of 7.1 or so with my 300mm prime. I like having the whole bird with detail but the background can be blurred. If it is all going too fast, I keep a faster SS, focus on the eye of the bird and just the dof fall where it may.

      I find with birds, like herons fishing, that they can stand stock still like a statue and there is plenty of time to experiment with dof because SS isn’t a concern for motion. When they are flitting about, if they are in good distance for my equipment, I focus on the bird and keep watching through the viewfinder for that moment it is poised and has a nice body position, then take the picture. I do tend to use the priority modes probably defaulting to aperture priority more than shutter. With eyesight issues, I do rely on auto focus which is why I bought my first digital camera in the first place. My lens does allow for manual override, so I can auto focus and still tweak on the fly as I watch. It gets easier really once you do it for awhile and see what worked in your own captures. Like whatever you did with that annoyed grackle was perfect. DOF fine, nice blurred background, bird in perfect focus..beak..eyes…and great expression which the photographer can’t quite control…that is up to the bird!

      Hope that helped some?

      Also, thanks for the input on the oil filter. My CS5 didn’t have the oil filter but it showed up on CS6. But, PS has had artistic filters from my first version and I have mixed them up from time to time for a look. So many choices out there now though. Crazy and great!!

  5. I love the painterly effect with the last image! These guys and their iridescent feathers are absolutely beautiful — usually so shy (or wily?), it’s tough to capture them in all their splendor. Just lovely!

  6. What a beautifully striking bird…I’ve never seen a Green Heron before…and you have created such an intense series of photos. The opening shot is brilliant but it is the 3rd shot that made me say ~ you, my friend, are a beautiful bird 🙂

    • Oh really! When I first started taking bird pictures, I had heard of them but never saw them. Then when I did see them, it was never for long or they were far away so pictures were not especially good. Seems as if now I see them more regularly. Maybe I’ve gotten quicker at it too!! I thought this one looked especially nice against the cypress grays. In Here is one in a greener background. (scroll to image 3)

  7. Lovely Judy, I wish I could visit with my camera but I have no doubt my photo’s would never be this good.

  8. Just stumbled across this post–lucky me as these are beautiful green heron images.

    I keep saying that, one of these years, I’m going to head to Florida in the winter to check out locations like the Everglades, Big Cypress, Blowing Rocks Preserve, etc., but I never seem to actually do it.

    • Thank you so much for commenting!! I really appreciate it! Yes, were you to visit South Florida, the Glades, Big Cypress, winter is best. That is for bird plumage and cooler temps–fewer of the little blood suckers too!!

      Meanwhile I have stopped in and thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful landscapes. I say same of the mountains – mean to visit yet haven’t done it yet!! Big Sigh…..:)

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