Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Same long lens, same creek, different subjects

with 22 comments

Along Onion Creek in McKinney Falls State Park on December 20, 2021, I took two rather different pictures with my longest lens. First came the drifting yellowed leaf of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) that’s shown below. About nine minutes later I panned with the camera to catch a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in flight over the creek. In 2016 I’d portrayed the same kind of bird at a waterfall a few hundred feet away.

As this post includes a picture of a bird, you can respond in kind
by taking flight to look at 20 recent award-winning avian pictures.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2022 at 4:34 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Great pictures, Steve. At the coast lately I didn’t get very good pictures of the birds. I hope I’ll be luckier when we go back there soon.


    January 2, 2022 at 7:12 AM

  2. It looks like it was a lovely outing!


    January 2, 2022 at 8:11 AM

  3. It’s always fun to see the action of the wingtips when a heron’s skimming the water like that. They’re capable of such fine adjustments, and it’s neat that you managed to capture the upturned tips. At first, I thought you’d shown a leaf and its reflection, but upon reflection, I realized the two halves of the leaf aren’t similar. The upper half looks rather like an open-mouthed gargoyle.


    January 2, 2022 at 9:06 AM

    • I love the detail of the upturned wing-tips. We sometimes see grey herons over here and it is lovely to watch them flying.

      Ann Mackay

      January 2, 2022 at 11:13 AM

    • Now I see why you originally thought the lower half of the sycamore leaf might be a reflection of the upper half. There’s a striking amount of symmetry in the two halves.

      You’re probably aware that the upturned wingtips on birds in flight inspired airplane designers to turn up the tips of plane wings. That’s now the norm, and it saves airplane companies on fuel. I guess it does the same for birds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2022 at 11:40 AM

  4. A spectacular shot of the heron. I never tire of seeing them — flying, perching, wading. Happy New Year.

    Brad Nixon

    January 2, 2022 at 10:26 AM

    • I’d tracked that heron walking, first on the bank of the creek and then into the creek, and I took pictures as it went along. Once a bird takes off, all photographic bets are up in the air, so to speak. I managed to get off two shots.

      Happy New Year to you, too. I’ve inaugurated the year by taking nature pictures on its first two days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2022 at 11:47 AM

  5. I especially love that leaf in water. That is a beautiful composition, Steve. I enjoyed the heron, too.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 2, 2022 at 4:20 PM

    • Thanks, Lavinia. I didn’t know when I photographed that drifting leaf if it would come out well. The picture ended up having a simplicity that pleased me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2022 at 4:30 PM

  6. The leaf floating mimics the bird flying. A nice pair.

    Steve Gingold

    January 3, 2022 at 4:07 AM

    • My subconscious must’ve been working overtime. I didn’t intentionally pair the pictures for a similarity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2022 at 8:01 AM

  7. The leaf, too, seems to be caught mid-air, rather than afloat on water.
    Thank you for sharing the link to the astounding award-winning photographs. I can only dream of capturing similar moments.


    January 3, 2022 at 4:08 PM

    • I figured you’d really appreciate those fantastic bird pictures.
      As for the leaf, your imagination had no trouble wending it into dark (perhaps smoky) air.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2022 at 6:06 PM

  8. So different but each compelling in its own way!


    January 3, 2022 at 6:37 PM

  9. […] posts back you saw a couple of the photographs I took with my longest lens in McKinney Falls State Park on December 20, 2021. During the same […]

  10. Great shots Steve …


    January 13, 2022 at 12:37 PM

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