Somebody Moved My Habitat – Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow and One Shot Five Ways

Nothing endures but change.

Heraclitus, 540 BC – 480 BC

Great blue heron in front of tunnel arch, 2007.

Great blue heron in front of tunnel arch, 2007.

What makes a photo a cliché? We’ve all seen them, photo scenes or compositions imitated so repeatedly by photographers that they define niche genres.

Photos of bees on echinacea or lily stamens come to mind – those photos are so prolific as to consitute their own memes. Same for damselflies on water lilies, osprey nests on channel markers, huge droopy sunflowers, open-winged butterflies on flowers, and how about those photos of the leaning tower of pizza with a tourist in the frame trying to prop up the tower? [Readers, please chime in via comments with your thoughts on photo clichés/memes.]

I’m not saying that all cliché photos are necessarily bad, and I’m not immune: I, too, have done bees on echinacea, bees in the heart of day lilies, damselflies on water lilies, and others.

Consider the photo at the top of this post: it would be a cliché of the “great blue heron with tall reeds” and of “great blue heron with arched tunnel” genres if the heron was in an upright pose.

As I said, I’m not immune to the occasional cliché, and in the case of the tunnel with heron meme, I’m guilty of shamelessly aiming for the idealized rendition over the years. I’ve sat in the kayak across the lake from the tunnel, hidden undercover for hours watching and waiting for the heron and sunlight to cooperate.

I’m not going to post the various cliché photos from over the years here because what caught my eye last week when I ventured there for the 2013 attempt was a profound change. You can see for yourself in this series, starting with the 2007 frame at the top of this post.

Great blue heron stretching wings near tunnel arch, 2009.

Great blue heron near the tunnel arch, 2009.

Great blue heron fishing near the tunnel arch, 2010.

Great blue heron near the tunnel arch, 2010.

Great blue heron foraging near the tunnel arch, 2011.

Great blue heron near the tunnel arch, 2011.

And in 2013? Wild grasses have invaded the shoreline, starting from the west and moving eastward. This is the 2013 view of the heron and tunnel:

Great blue heron facing tunnel arch hidden by vegetation, 2013.

Somebody moved my habitat: Great blue heron facing tunnel arch hidden by vegetation, 2013.

So, no 2013 “heron by tunnel” meme for me.

Much more important than that is what the wild grass invasion foreshadows for this ecosystem. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge Krista Stevens, Cheri Lucas Rowlands for the liberties I’ve taken with the Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot Five Ways and WordPress.

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on August 13, 2013, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, daily prompt, Ecology, Foreshadow, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. The Silver Sunbeam

    I don’t think there are as many cliches as there are unavoidably repeated images. Similar photographs are the very nature … of nature! It’s only when we discover a unique image that we devalue our less original works. But even unoriginality has greatness! A lesser photographer will still struggle to achieve these images. Certainly change is the only constant, as we change our perceptions of our own work based on what is, what has come before and what is yet to be.

    • Exactly. There is value in repetition, and it is inherent in nature – the Fibonacci sequence and Mandelbrot come to mind. For a beginner in photography, repetition can be a valuable learning tool, just as scales are for the budding pianist, and children learn by emulating other humans. The only constant is change and yet the more things change, the more they stay the same, no? Thanks for commenting here!

  2. Great job telling the story with the photos Babsje!

  3. I understand what you are saying, Babs. I am guilty of having similar GBH photos, however I have had some interesting encounters. On my blog, click on my Flickr logo, I think I might have some more images there. Or do a search on my blog, I have done several posts there on herons. I love that great image you have at the top of this page. Very exciting!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Bob, and for pointing me in the direction of your other heron photos, I’ll check them out. I loved your recent post about the heron near McDonalds! Best, Babsje

  4. we have the same invading grass here in australia …. and yes, nothing stays the same, even if photographers would like it to!

    • Sorry to hear you have that grass, too. Our lake has had problems with non-native invasives such as Eurasian Millfoil, but this grass infestation is suddenly severe. I’m not sure if its native or non-native. Thanks for the comment, and I agree with what you say about photograaphers and change!

  5. Great photos of these beautiful birds. They can easily become an obsession. 😀

  6. The Herons Of Elmwood. (Birds Of Passage. Flight The Fifth)

    Warm and still is the summer night,
    As here by the river’s brink I wander;
    White overhead are the stars, and white
    The glimmering lamps on the hillside yonder.

    Silent are all the sounds of day;
    Nothing I hear but the chirp of crickets,
    And the cry of the herons winging their way
    O’er the poet’s house in the Elmwood thickets.

    Call to him, herons, as slowly you pass
    To your roosts in the haunts of the exiled thrushes,
    Sing him the song of the green morass;
    And the tides that water the reeds and rushes.

    Sing him the mystical Song of the Hern,
    And the secret that baffles our utmost seeking;
    For only a sound of lament we discern,
    And cannot interpret the words you are speaking.

    Sing of the air, and the wild delight
    Of wings that uplift and winds that uphold you,
    The joy of freedom, the rapture of flight
    Through the drift of the floating mists that infold you.

    Of the landscape lying so far below,
    With its towns and rivers and desert places;
    And the splendor of light above, and the glow
    Of the limitless, blue, ethereal spaces.

    Ask him if songs of the Troubadours,
    Or of Minnesingers in old black-letter,
    Sound in his ears more sweet than yours,
    And if yours are not sweeter and wilder and better.

    Sing to him, say to him, here at his gate,
    Where the boughs of the stately elms are meeting,
    Some one hath lingered to meditate,
    And send him unseen this friendly greeting;

    That many another hath done the same,
    Though not by a sound was the silence broken;
    The surest pledge of a deathless name
    Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken.

    Henry Wadsworth

    • I’m left wordless by this poem and how he could know precisely THAT. Yes, it is that. It is a meditation, to be with the herons. Many thanks for this, and a hug.

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