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Night Stalker

Night Stalker
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-25
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, NIKKOR AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 ED DX VR
Exposure: f/8, 15 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-07-30 17:04
Viewed: 3766
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 50
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I was up early, on the Esplanade in Cairns, looking for a sunrise shot when I saw this Nankeen Night Heron standing some distance away on the tidal flats. I didnít feel he was close enough for a flash so I went with existing light, basically at the setting I was using for the pre-dawn. This provides a very good indication of the birdís patience. The time of the exposure was 15 seconds; he didnít move a muscle. Itís a dark shot, but I was quite happy with the results, finding him in his natural, hunting environment, and with the detail I was able to pick up, even under these conditions.

The Nankeen (Rufous) Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) feeds nocturnally, resting by day inside the cover of leafy trees close to the water. Through the night these birds forage along shallow shore lines as you see this bird doing in this shot.

They can be found in permanent and semi permanent brackish waters throughout Australia. They generally feed on fish, amphibians and crustaceans but will also feed on insects, and chicks and eggs stolen from other birds nests.

They breed from September to March. The nest is a loose leaf line platform of sticks in a tree or shrub above water.

Much of this from: http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/6157/rufous_night_heron.pdf
ID from: Simpson K. and Day N. (2004), Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell.

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
The shot - shot in Raw with Jpeg reference
NEF files adjusted for exposure and shadow
Levels not adjusted Ė I wanted it to remain dark and didnít want to compensate for any right hand clipping of the histogram.
Adjusted curves Ė very minor for contrast.
Burned and Dodged with overlay layer (5% opacity black and white brush) Ė very minor on bird only.
Saved as a tiff
For this post, cropped, sharpened with USM, framed, and saved as a jpeg

annagrace, rcrick, pablominto, jhm, PaulH, marhowie, Jamesp, Necipp, scottevers7, deblink, Mariol, mlines, alguazul, Proframe, eBirdy, waylim has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To deblink: Lucky How the Heron Didn't MoveJPlumb 1 07-31 20:57
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • mbasil Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 335 W: 148 N: 745] (3320)
  • [2007-07-30 17:55]

There's something unreal about the lighting -- I suppose it's just a pre-dawn 15-second exposure that increases the glow of the light bird. Anyway, it works quite well. Well done. (I would have never thought to use a tripod and a 15-second exposure to shoot a bird!)

Wonderful capture, it really is extra ordinary for a 15 second exposure for the heron to stay so well composed.

Excellent work!


Really nice image John, nicely captured bet you held your breath for those 15sec ? Cheers Rick

Hello John,
This is amazing and a fascinating image!
Very well achieved under light conditions like here, and a cooperative model, let me add!
Well composed image with good details, great reflection too!
The special atmosphere is well captured, attractive composition!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2007-07-30 23:01]

Hello John,

I like here the soft environment, It shall be very difficult for taking these night heron, but I find this picture very lovely.
Very well done.

Best regards,

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-07-31 0:51]

Hi John,
I have not been regular at your gallery lately, sorry for that. This is a fantastic shot of the Night Heron in its natural habitat and in the early morning. Fantastic exposure and the light is managed well. The reflection looks majestic in the dark environs and an excellent POV to portray the whole scene. Very nicely composed. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-07-31 1:19]

Hello John,
Great pre-dawn atmosphere in this picture. Amazing how your heron stood still, may be it was sleeping. I like this kind of natural picture.
Thanks and best regards

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-07-31 2:39]

Hi John
wow...what an atmosphere to this shot...you certainly had the right idea to us the long exposure, and Herons are just the bird to do it with, they stay as still as stone for so long!!
Excellent composition too, very well seen.

Hello John,
Great job of pulling this one off, under pre-dawn conditions..Good exposure and detail, the heron is well seen in its natural environment. Thanx for the post processing notes..
Well done.

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-07-31 6:55]

Hi John

Greetings from Beijing.

Great shot - the light and composition are perfect. Conveys the moment really well.


Good work John the exposure adds to the night feeling, nicely composed and sharp tfs rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • juanjo Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 167 W: 8 N: 27] (1142)
  • [2007-07-31 15:56]

hello John

interestring way of using of flash, the result is a lovely nocturnal picture



Hi John,
Great scene! The darkness coveys a great moody feel. Yet the light on the heron is perfect. Just an amazing long exposure shot. Very good camera work. This rocks!

Wow John how lucky were you that the Heron didn't move. I am glad that you chose to give it a go with those settings it was worth it. The surrounding vegetation and the reflections are superb.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-07-31 20:03]

Hello John

A neat shot of this night heron.The lighting is well handled.I like the composition and the natural setting.Very well focused with sharp details.Nicely done.TFS


  • Great 
  • Mariol Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 160 W: 15 N: 1654] (8221)
  • [2007-08-01 21:22]

Hi John,
Interesting an original picture.
Nice to see the bird in his natural environment. TFS
Regards, Mario

Hi John. A very good night shot, with excellent result even if the lighting was demanding. Excellent presentation and notes. Murray.

Hi John,
A wonderful nocturnal photo where the subtle light illuminated the bird and vegetation perfectly. The beautiful distorted reflection of the heron caused by the slow shutter speed is wonderful.

Really Night Heron! Here we call them "Martinetes". I like your composition that reflects very well the environment, habitat and biological rhytm without the unnatural flash effect, thus having a very homogeneous and natural light... Very good shot.

Hello John,
What a great capture this is. Never have seen a wildlife night shot, without using flash I mean, like this one before.
Excellent work from you as well as the heron who had to stand still for those 15 seconds.
Wonderful reflection and contrast between the heron and the background against wich it does stand out perfectly.
Lighting and composition are perfect.
Thanks for sharing.
Best wishes,

Hi John,

I am amazed that your heron didn't move for 15 seconds! Come to think of it our great blues stand motionless too. They are very patient. This is an effective shot as the lightness of the bird makes a great focal point in the otherwise dark yet interesting pool. Those tall green plants with the larger leaves are wonderful and sort of frame your heron.

Evelynn : )

Hi John,
Amazing, magic shot...Outstanding! Sorry, no critiques! Congrats! Marta

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2007-08-09 13:39]

Hi John, very unusual shot of that Heron. Technically very strong, nicely composed. Perfect shot, thanks.


Hello John,
This is amazingly well captured image under light conditions, It show that you model is patience and your persistence. It's worth it. I like the very moody atmophere and the title fit very well. TFS. Very useful note.

  • Great 
  • Tlapp Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 27 W: 6 N: 19] (112)
  • [2008-04-11 13:26]

You took a stunning shot in spite of bad lighting! Well done! Rafal

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