Egret in flight

I was camping last fall near Island Beach State Park in N.J. I located a wild life marsh that was about a 45 minute drive from our camp. I had started getting interested in bird photography, but my longest lens was 70-200 mm. I watched a few bird photography videos on YouTube and became a little knowledgeable on the camera setting to use for birds in flight. I have the most fun capturing them in flight, but have come to the conclusion that I will get more shots by taking what I can get and those small birds are almost impossible to catch in flight. Anyway, this big Egret came sailing by me and I popped off several shots. I couldn’t tell you how ecstatic I was to see I got this entire bird in the frame. I was hooked! When I got home, I ordered a 200-600 mm lens and have been enjoying this style photography ever since.

Specific Feedback Requested

Is there enough head room for this bird. I could use content aware to lengthen it.
Anything else.

Technical Details

Sony a7r iv 70-200 mm F4 G OSS @ 200mm
s 1/5000
ISO 800

Topaz DeNoise, Sharpen
Nik CEP4 for contrast


This is really nice. I like the wing position and there’s good detail in the whites . I like how close the egret feels to the viewer. I guess I could see a bit more room on the left, particularly the wing seems a bit tight.

It is always exciting to get a beautiful avian subject in the viewfinder in flight. The good parts for me are the exposure on the whites and the nice water background.

Things I would change: I think it is overly contrasty in the whites. It looks like between Sharpening and Nik for contrast, the plumage is crunchy. The flight angle is not ideal as it is flying away. Yeah… I know, can’t change it but that’s an important thing to look for in future opportunities.

For me, the entire image is too tight in the frame. It’s not just the left side, it’s everywhere.

I did a quick look to see another possibility. Here’s the result. See what you think. (Yeah, I know there are repeated patterns in the extra canvas. I didn’t bother to work that issue).

@Allen_Brooks Thanks Allen. After seeing Keith’s rework, I can say it needed a lot more room. I appreciate your critique.

@Keith Bauer I love your rework. I knew it needed more room. I added some in the front using content aware, but didn’t want to over do it. I’m seeing now how much room these big guys have to have. The extra room really makes a difference. I’ll take out some of the contrast too. I spent some time this summer hiking trails to get practice, but the summer was so hot and humid that it was hard to find many birds flying or sitting. I even took a few trips up to our wildlife refuge country and didn’t see much there. It looks like I’ll have to wait till spring to get that practice. I appreciate so much that you took your time to give me useful help. Thank you.

Very nice – welcome to the addicted!! Having a bird too close is not common, so you’ll probably have more room in most future shots.

I went down our driveway today to pick up the mail (the road is about 1/4 mile away) and when I came back there was a Great Blue Heron on the hill below the house, looking for rodents. It apparently lives at a pond about a mile away, as I see it fairly often. Didn’t even try for the camera as it would have taken off if I tried to approach it.

I really like this capture, @Donna_Callais. It does work a bit better with more room, but it’s a really nice photo that caught my attention when just viewing the thumbnail. Looks like you are well on your way to being a bird photographer!

@Diane_Miller Yeah, lesson learned. This guy came from the side of me and all I could manage to do is to find it in my view , get it sharp and start clicking. It was so close that I was just happy to get it in the frame and sharp. I was thinking about too many things to also zoom out. Maybe someday it will all happen automatically.

When I was using my iPhone while kayaking, I use to be able to sneak up on herons sometimes and get a nice shot. I remember once sneaking up on a green heron and getting a close up video. I haven’t had the time to take my camera out kayaking. I want to squeeze a trip in this fall and hope there are still some birds around.

@terryb Thanks Terry. I do enjoy the challenge of bird photography and hope to get better at it. I’m learning some of dos and don’t s for this forum that will help me. I’m happy you liked this image.

Glad to see that you are hooked on bird photography. Once you get some decent images it’s hard to not shoot birds anymore. The fact that you went straight home and ordered the 200-600 tells the story more than anything else. Welcome to obsession. :joy:
The fact that this is full frame with a 70-200 is incredible. You got really close. Most of the time you will not be this close to your subjects. Some things to consider when shooting birds:
Body, head and eye position are critical.
A clean background is something to consider almost immediately when attempting to shoot birds either in flight or perched so feel to shoot wide open. No need to stop down very much unless you want detail in the foreground or the background as you would in a habitat shot.
Light angle is best coming from the side and low so that the eyes and if in flight, the underwing feathers can get lit.
If in flight, you want the bird coming towards you or at and angle where it’s not giving you a butt shot.
Also, if in flight, it’s more interesting to have a dynamic wing position, either up or down and with good looks at the feathers and plumage. Flat wing positions tend to be less dynamic and as is the case in this image, intersects with the head and beak of the bird.
Very early morning and late afternoon light tend to give birds a glow that is hard to get at other times of the day and on hawks and lots of birds of prey, this low angled light is the only way to actually get light on the eyes as they have hoods over their eyes.
Hope this helps just a little bit. You are all set to have a blast with your newfound niche and 200-600mm lens.

@David_Haynes Thanks for the great info. I got out this spring and got some great shots of Osprey. I also like going to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge area about an hour 20 min. drive. Our summer got so hot and humid that the birds seemed to disappear. I have a lot of fun whether I get any shots or not. I’m headed out camping next week. We’re going to be near Island Beach State Park in NJ near Toms River. The egret I posted I took last fall at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge not too far from where we were camping. I’ll have my big gun lens :wink: this time and I’m hoping to get more than pin shots of birds. I love the challenge of getting them in the view finder and then have the camera find them for sharpening. I hope the birds cooperate with me and I have something nice to post when I get back. Thanks again for taking the time to give good info. I can stuff in my head.