Here is the same heron as photographed in Heron, Bude Canal a couple of weeks ago and in colour this time. As we walked down the canal into Bude s/he was in the same place on the side of the canal. As we walked back on the other side of the Bude Marshes Nature Reserve s/he flew in to a corner of the field that has a constant pool of muddy water fed by an underground stream. I can only think that there may be frogs or newts in this pool; if any fish were washed here during flooding I can’t imagine they would last very long. I have never seen anything moving in it despite walking past it tens of times.
Because the road to Rodd’s Bridge goes down the side of this field this enabled us to get unbelievably close to him; my guess would be 5-6 metres away; certainly the closest I have ever been to a heron. Intent on whatever s/he was hunting s/he took little notice of us. The image is full width (no horizontal cropping).
This was shot with the E-M1 and M.Zukio 75-300 f/5.6-6.7 ii at full extension, so f/6.7 and with its 2x crop factor, a full frame equivalent of 600mm. It is at its weakest at this focal length but the results are still pretty good. With my old Nikon setup I would have photographed this with my D300, Sigma 100-300 f/4 and 1.4x teleconverter, which would have been f/5.6 and 630mm full frame equivalent. Would it have taken a better shot? Yes, but only marginally so. Would I have had it with me on a casual afternoon walk? Almost certainly not. The D300 setup weighed 2588g; the E-M1 setup 988g. The shot is certainly not two and a half times worse for being taken with the lighter setup. I’m glad to have made the switch!
Regarding the heron itself, s/he doesn’t look in great condition to me, though perhaps a little better than a couple of weeks ago. It’s been a hard winter. In the image you can see that s/he is in the process of shedding a beak layer.
Bude Marshes, Bude, Cornwall, UK
Camera: Olympus E-M1
Lens: Olympus M 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II
Focal Length: 300mm
Shutter Speed: 1/160s
Nature shots generally need little treatment in post and this is no exception. As noted above the M.Zukio 75-300 is a little soft at 300mm so careful sharpening was required. I didn't want to sharpen the bokeh so I masked the heron and sharpened it with a combination of FocusMagic and Uwe Steinmuller's Optimal Sharp script. The masked background was then darkened a little with a touch of Color Efex's Midnight filter.