August 11, 2012 Herons In Steam

This was just kinda one of those mornings. This must be the 4th time in the last week I tried steam ops. It's not easy getting up for this well before sunrise, especially the later tries after trips that weren't worth it. I kinda knew it would be good this morning though. Sure enough, I cross the river and find some ground fog. Good sign. Need light winds, cooler out, and it helps if it's also sorta moist out. If it is bone dry and there's much of any breeze, it can be super cold and the steam just suck because it's blowing off the water too quickly to accumulate to much. My favorite aspect is just getting zero for the wind speed, which this morning essentially had. It was 53 out and the water is probably still in the lower 80s. Anyway, I arrive and as usual when it is good in there, your mind races on where to be and when to be there. It's such a short window of time and the light is changing fast. You can't be everywhere and shoot everything. I also now have a kayak for this, mostly in hopes to do some optics hunting easier. So you have landscape fog scenes, multiple locations not including any water. Or you have the lake in many areas too. And now the kayak aspect too. When one area is not going so well, it's hard to stick with it. Or if you get several shots there it's hard not to move somewhere else and look around. Problem is sunrise light comes fast.

So I skip the first cool landscape op to check the water areas. First not so steamy. Next was this spot above, nice steam. I pull in there and the nearby heron in the water doesn't even give me a chance to open my car door. Off he flies. And he wasn't even close. I give chase in my car, down to the general area. I get out of my car and slowly walk toward him, but there's a damn gate in the way/shot. Had to at least get to that without him flying off. I do so. I then lift my camera and tripod over that gate and crawl under it. Still good to go, so I shoot from there. Awesome very early light and scene. And best of all perhaps, is it happens to point at the bright area of the sky the sun would rise. Layered thin cirrus or other clouds and fog in the sky to the east, providing some coloring.

After I get plenty of shots here I wonder, do I leave now and quickly find another scene, or do I stay and see what the sunrise op presents. I have a damn hard time sticking with one spot long, as I get it in my head I can cover everything no matter how hard it might be. It's just so unlikely that I stick it out here for sunrise. But I kept saying, just hold out for sunrise and see what happens.

Big fish near the closer heron. Some of these looked really really big. They were everywhere. I think he was mocking the heron as it tried to locate eatable fish.

Why hello there 3rd heron in the frame. F14 was almost enough for depth of field. Mental note for next time to go further. Not a lot.

No clue what the middle heron was trying to do.

Hey a goose too! And a blue whale near the closer heron now. Look at that damn thing.


The sunrise was sweet. I was lucky to have stayed. I could not fit mr heron with it though. Had lens backed out to 100mm and it wasn't happening. I figured, no sense in not at least trying to ninja walk closer to him. These things are so sketchy here. Always flying off well before you get near them. Like blocks away. I had been completely still up to this point after crossing that gate. I just knew soon as I picked the tripod up and made any step, he was going to fly off and let me know how upset he was by honking, or whatever the hell you'd call the noise they make. I get far enough to barely fit him and think, hurry shoot shoot shoot before he goes. I get some.

Can I get closer? Why yes I can. This never happens with these things here. I only got so close with them before at Squaw Creek, when I scared them off a canal area in my car, then just sat in my car till they all worked back in. I then shot them from my window. Here I was standing really close and sneaking closer.

Pushing my luck getting even closer.

Closer yet. Do realize though I was seriously ninja walking hardcore, slooowwwllllyyyy and carefully. Hell I was heron-walking. I don't know what his problem was. I eventually wondered if he was sleeping.

He finally had it with me soon as I tried to get closer than this one and put him right in the sun reflection. Off he went yacking/honking like they do. Thanks mr heron! I should have self timered a shot and ran at him. Not fully sure why other than I just now thought about it.

Time to go to some other area and get shots before steam was over? No, this scene was where I first stopped there and had the heron fly off. I saw this one out there and drove quickly back south. The lighting was ridiculous on the water. When I got there and saw this one flying, I wasn't exactly ready yet. I thought, just shoot it and hope settings and focus are right enough. No sense in checking those first and just missing it anyway.


Not sure what made all the ripples but they were cool.

Such cool lighting with the thicker steam and fog where it was and where it wasn't.

I wanted to get a jumping fish but it didn't happen. I actually may have been able to but I was still in the whole "I can capture everything" mode. Thinking I could now go to the other areas and get some stuff and then hop on the water and get kayak stuff too. What actually happened was a lot of driving around the whole place and blowing the little bit of remaining steam time.

I did come across one cool area and op. So many of the good steam areas suck because they have the damn road lined with thick trees. Had one small view out there to this area. Anyway, fun worthwhile outing this morning. Probably several more to come. Surely an optics outing in the kayak update will be in the works eventually this fall.

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