Llewellyn’s Grey Herons

And in the weedy moat the heron, fond
Of solitude, alighted.
The moping heron, motionless and stiff,
That on a stone, as silently and stilly,
Stood, an apparent sentinel, as if
To guard the water-lily.

Thomas Hood
The Haunted House, 1844

Embed from Getty Images
Piscator Nbr 2, by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, Albumen print, June 1856


Today’s Daily Prompt from WordPress challenged us with the topic of something we can’t get out of our heads. That’s a no-brainer for me, as I admitted my obsession with herons long ago in I Have A Heron Monkey on My Back. Back then I wrote

With nearly a decade spent observing them, and more than 100,000 photos of them under my belt, could one say I’m addicted? Perhaps I do have a “monkey on my back,” but all for a good cause.

This affinity for herons is not limited to present-day experiences: I get excited by the discovery of archival heron photographs, and feel a connection to the early photographers who may also have been captivated by herons. Case in point, the two grey heron photographs by Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn shown here, courtesy of Getty Images.

Embed from Getty Images
Heron by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, 1856


The thought of someone observing herons going on 200 years ago moves me, and I imagine a man caring enough to photograph them then, just as I do today.


You can learn more about John Dillwyn Llewellyn here:
From a Forgotten Box, a Ray of Light
Daguerreotypes Spur Book on John Dillwyn Llewelyn

Thanks to WordPress for the Daily Prompt: Can’t Get it Out of My Head.

Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the instructions on embedding Getty Images into blog posts.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Ancient prompt. (Compared to the Coliseum in Rome, this is not ancient. In terms of photographic technology, shots from the 1850’s are nearly ancient, coming just 30 years after the first reported nature photograph.)

Thanks to Cee for her Black & White Challenge: Big. (While the photos, themselves, are small, the heron is a very big bird. In addition, from a technical perspective, the exposure duration was big – Piscator Nbr 2 had an exposure of 20 minutes. I find it remarkable that the heron’s reflection in the water is so clear for such a long exposure.)

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Photo Challenge: Wings. (I like how Ese frames her challenges with the pairing of a photo and a quote. In the case of Piscator Nbr 2, it was published in The Photographic Album of 1857 with an inscription that included the poem passage that I’ve placed at the start of this post. It is now in the collection of the George Eastman House.)


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Grey Heron, John Dillwyn Llewelyn

Posted on April 13, 2014, in Art, Cee's Black & White Challenge, daily prompt, Heron, Nature Photography, Photography, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. What a great find and having it fit so many challenges. Excellent job! Couldn’t think of a better addiction.

    • Many thanks, I was thrilled to stumble across Llewellyn’s photos by accident last week. The technique used to “print” from his plates was interesting: his wife would prop the plates on the outside of their windowsill and let the sun work magic. Fascinating.

  2. Great challenge and you did nailed it down 🙂

  3. Well you gotta love herons!

    • Phil, you are so right about that – gotta love them. I know you’re a big fan of herons (but we won’t let Dpoonie and Mr. A know). Thanks for your kind words!

  4. That’s so true, we don’t want any hurt feelings out there and we all know how sensitive those gators are.

    • Indeed, he’s all scaly and armored on the outside, but inside? He’s a sensitive guy. Sensitive enough to peaceably co-exist with the egrets and herons and spoonbills, whereas a lesser gator would simply considered those to be lunch.

  5. I love this post; you’ve made it both beautiful and informative. Good work, Babsje!

  6. Enjoying your work, skilful writing!

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