Great Blue Heron / Great Falls Park, MD

The sun sets at around 8:30 pm during summer in Maryland that allowed me to make short trips to the Great Falls Park after work. The Great Blue Herons are also active at that time, especially after a period of rain. On the Maryland side of the park, there are very limited vantage points that limits composition possibilities. I’d love your input on this long exposure image created in late June around sunset. Thank you in advance.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Does this composition work? How about the color palette? Would you want to be closer to the heron or farther out?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any and all

Any pertinent technical details:

Canon 6D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f14, 0.6 s, 117mm

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Hi Mohib,
I like what you’ve done here with the heron in the middle of the falls, it brings a bit of peace among the chaos mood to the image. I think a tighter crop would help bring the attention more to the heron, right now I think its a bit too small in the frame and tends to get lost amidst the falls. Also I think if you if you darken the lights and lighten the darks in the image you can get a bit more contrast out of it. Nice Work!

Hi David, thank you for taking the time to offer your feedback. You raise an interesting point about tighter crop. I think I didn’t consider it for this image as I had other images that were more focused on the heron. Also, I wanted to showcase the surroundings in addition to the bird. However, to that end, the following crop is probably better with less rocks/more water. I also did another tighter crop based on your input as well. Thanks again.

I like the position of the heron in your second post the best, Mohib. The size of the bird doesn’t bother me-it looks fine in the larger image. I don’t know if you have it or if the scene even worked that way, but the end of the rocks at the lower end of the falls being clipped off bothers me a little. If it exists, I think a sliver of water between it and the edge of the frame would be a cleaner break.

Lovely image and that’s a lot of water for a heron to deal with-I’m used to seeing them in still water.

Thank you, Dennis. Really appreciate your thoughtful feedback.


I think the heron makes the image. Without the bird perched on the rock, the comp would be a 50-50 landscape image of the falls with the mist reducing contrast and color. Having the heron there adds a story telling element and really makes the image work.

I would agree cropping/zooming closer would emphasize the heron and the story even more - but too close the benefit would start to go the other direction. In other words, this is not a portrait of a Great Blue heron, but an environmental image telling a story rather than depicting the details of the bird - if that makes sense.

Colors are fine, especially given the mist/spray from the falls.

I’d say your second repost looks best.


I like the crop as is. The bird is incidental to the landscape and it helps emphasize scale of water and rocks. Also the bird’s stillness a good contrast to the turbulence of the water.