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Heron Sunset -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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On a warm, late summer afternoon I visited the Columbia Gorge to try photographing the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias).  I knew of a place where one would wait patiently on a stump in the river looking for frogs or fish, with a green reflection of distant trees in the water to provide a good background for a picture.  I arrived with camera, tripod, and a chair to sit and relax in case I'd be waiting for a while.  Shortly after setting up the heron glided in, right on cue.  I took a few photos, but the tree stump was far enough away that my lens would not produce a large image.  The sun started to set, and I began to pack my gear for the trip home.  

Just when I turned to leave, I heard a loud squawk.  Another heron had landed in a different spot along the shore between me and the setting sun and the two were having a bird conversation.  It was much closer than the first and well within range of my lens.  I was in the perfect place to photograph the second one as he strolled along the shoreline in water lit up with awe-inspiring colors.  I must say I was in a state of near panic with no time to spare.  Quickly I put the camera back on the tripod and got off four exposures, the bird framed by graceful curves of the sand.  I did recognize at the time that the sinuous pattern of the water's edge and splashes of color made a striking composition.  When I took the final frame, shown here, the curious visitor gave me a gift—standing exactly where I would want it to be.  

Driving home, I realized that Nature has incredible rewards for us when we are patient and observant.  I began the day expecting one photo, but came back with a completely different and far better one.  Humans have created a world where we try to control and exploit our environment, yet the real beauty happens when we allow ourselves to be a part of the world and accept it on its own terms rather than ours.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Velvia 35mm slide, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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