Egret at Turtle Pond

We have had fewer marsh birds in our neighborhood this year. Last week they came back briefly. When I saw them, I grabbed my camera and started shooting. It was morning, with good low light, but some of the pond was in shadows. I liked the photo as shot with the white bird standing out against a dark background, but I also experimented with increasing the exposure in Lightroom. I’m not sure which image is better.

Specific Feedback Requested

I would like feedback on the composition and camera setting choices.

Which image do you prefer - dark background as shot, or lighter?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Nikon D500
Nikor 300mm PF lens
f/10, SS 1/1600
ISO 200


There are a number of issues I have with this shot, and not knowing your history with a camera, I will not assume anything. First off, shots going away from the camera must have something that stands out beyond a bird flying away from you and this one does not. Second, in your RAW editor (if you are shooting RAW) you should bring down the highlights using a curve adjustment. It’s important to do it here rather than trying to retrieve it in post which seldom works as well. Third, watch your real and viewer perceived horizon lines. What happens is that as we follow the bird, it becomes exceptionally difficult to keep a straight horizon, thus, in this case the water was draining out the left side of the frame. It took about a 10 degree turn to the right to get a corrected perspective. Lastly, check out the BG and immediate surrounds when shooting. You have two, white reflections, both intersecting with your egret and they are confusing the point of focus. there are always some cloning issues to deal with as well as color, tonal range and contrast control. This is a good start and for a retreating egret, not a bad shot.

Thanks Chris. Those are all helpful comments. I do shoot in RAW, but need to learn how to use the RAW editor. As for the background and reflections, those seem tougher to deal with when the subject is moving and other birds are around the pond. That said, I understand your point that it does not make it a very interesting photo. I appreciate your help.

I like the idea of the white bird against the dark background, though I also like the brighter eye in the other version. The detail looks good and it’s a nice flying pose with good head and eye view. Might clone out the white shadow.

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