The Oldest Dance

This is a part of the mating ritual between male and female Great Blue Herons. The male is the larger one with the fluffed out chest feathers. Prior to this, the male begins to build a nest and in the process, sweeps his head upward, fluffing out those feathers hoping to attract a female. Upon success, they finish the nest, he bringing the materials, she placing them, then do a dance or two, mate and soon after she will lay 2-7 pale blue eggs. Within 2 months the young are capable of flight and soon after that, they will fledge the nest.

Specific Feedback Requested

I think I am back to the greens. Against the blue of the Herons, too dark dulls them down, and too light they want to steal the eye’s attention. I feel I got a good balance but would like other opinions.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
D500, 200-500 @300mm, f/6.3, ISO 320, 1/1250

This one, while having a good exposure on the two birds, had a quite bright bit of greenery, punctuated by bright yellow flowers. Using a three lights masks in brightness and contrast, exposure and HSB, I was able to strike a balance. I did do a selective color pick on the yellow flowers to tone their brightness down without affecting the yellows in the grass.

What a cool dance. Chris thanks for the information and your processing.

1 Like

Great subject and interaction!
Somehow fine detail is missing, especially in whites, is it a big crop?

1 Like

Hmm, I even did a white whites mask on his neck to try to increase the detail…maybe I need more. It’s a fairly big crop. I had to follow these two around for about a half hour because every time I got a tiny bit too close, they’d hop away to a safer distance. Taking their cue, I extended my focal length by 100mm. On a half frame camera such as the D500, 300mm is the equivalent to 450mm with the crop in PS.

Hi Chris. You caught some wonderful action in this one. I’ve seen tons of these birds, but never this action. I agree with Jagdeep on the detail. The female heron seems lacking in detail as well-perhaps stopping down a bit might have been called for with two large birds like this. Your settings would indicate that you had plenty of light to work with.

1 Like

Good point! It was one of my first times shooting the D500 and the 200-500 so it wasn’t until later that I discovered that f/8 was the sweet spot for that lens.

Hi Chris
Nice dance, do you more frames of the dance. Outside of the detail issue J Rajput & Dennis brought up coloring and dance looks great.

1 Like

I do not. Pretty much every other shot had blur or depth of field issues that I didn’t like.

Never seen behaviour like this, and I like it a lot, well-documented. I wonder what happend in post processing though, since especially in the larger version I see quite some strange structure, most visible in the upper green part of the image - probably due to the amount of cropping done? Anyway, it’s a pleasure to look at the pair ! Cheers, Hans

1 Like