Beautiful Great Blue Herons – And There I Was Without a Camera (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 15)

Every photographer has at least one story of the one that got away.


© Babsje (

Great blue heron yearling fishing in the reeds.

Like every fisherman worth his salt, every photographer has a tale of the photo that got away. Maybe the perfect subject got photobombed by an interloper. Maybe the wildlife dashed out of frame, leaving only the proverbial butt-shot. Maybe the batteries ran out of juice. Maybe the camera ran out of film (anyone remember film?). And maybe the camera had been left behind at home.

The last time I saw a Great Blue Heron was from the window of a moving taxicab. It was a stereotypical late October New England day, warm sunshine glinting on gorgeous autumn foliage. The Heron stood stock-still in the marshy reeds on the riverbank, staring intently into the slow-moving water mere yards from the busy road. Golden-hour sun bathed the shore lined with reeds and cast warming tones on his grey-blue feathers. The Heron would have made a lovely portrait, but there I was without a camera in a moving car.

The scene lasted for only a few moments as the cab whizzed by at 45mph, but it remains indelibly etched in my mind. And now, every time I pass that river, I make a point of scanning for the Heron.

Sometimes when the camera has been left behind entirely, what remains is a glorious photo-memory in our mind’s eye. There are worse things.

I’d love to read your own stories of the one that got away.

This post is dedicated to the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and to Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage and inspire.

This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with reflections. I took the word reflections in a different direction, reflecting on the one that got away.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 87: Reflections.
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 87: Reflections .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 87: Reflections .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 87: Reflections.

Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for Joy Challenge.


From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2020 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Wayland

Posted on March 8, 2020, in ardea herodias, Art, Bald eagle, Birds, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Fine art, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Owl, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. It has happened to me many times in many ways. Plenty of butt shots for sure and times absent the camera regretfully. But, you know, when you are used working on a capture, then you feel naked without the camera so bad you didn’t have it, that it is an exercise in positivity to commit the scene to memory and be happy. The camera teaches you to see things differently but I guess it shouldn’t deprive you of the joy of seeing something wonderful and perfect light in the moment. Still Grrrr!! 🙂

  2. Oh I like that heron in the reeds. Normally I prefer the bird on the other side of the reeds, but those particular green vertical lines with their gold flowers give it interesting texture and an intimate mood with the heron.

    • Hi Judy. Many thanks. I’m glad you like this photo. It’s one of my own favorites and I felt lucky that the hero’s eye itself was visible between two stalks and not obscured. Best, Babsje

      • Funny how we look at such particular details in whether something does work or not. This one definitely works!!

        • Thanks so much. I’ve only ever seen any herons in that small pond twice, two years apart, but I look there just in case especially when those tall fronds or grasses bloom. Best, Babsje

  3. Hi, Babsje. I share your pain! There have been many shots that I missed for various reasons. But I’m always optimistic that I’ll have another lucky find….hopefully soon.

  4. I have more missed shots than Carter’s got pills.
    On the other hand I’ve gotten some amazing shots! I pitch my tent on those grounds.

  5. Love your photo – colours and shapes. And I have many missed opportunities…my first 20 years of traveling I had no camera. My boyfriend did have one, but the result is loads of slides lying in boxes. Egypt, Nepal, Tunisia, Peru, Greenland…

    • Hi Leya. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. All of your fabulous destinations just left as slides in boxes, how frustrating that must feel for you. I, too, have slides around somewhere. I hadn’t thought of them for years and years until you mentioned yours just now. It is a poignant feeling. A friend who spent her early childhood in Egypt before the one of the wars went to the trouble and expense of having the family slides converted/digitized. The technology is there, but going through the slides, curating thousands to determine which were worth saving for her family and her two sisters families was a monumental task. The boxes sat on her dining room table for a couple of years until she finished. But those slides were all they had of that time. Priceless memories for them all. Many thanks for your kind words Leya. Best, Babsje

  6. Oh of course Babsje, we all have those moments, sadly. My most memorable was in the Palouse. It was literally a Dorothea Lange moment with a little blonde girl, sun lighting her hair, beside her housedress-clothed, exhausted mother and both beside a run-down, dilapidated farmhouse. We drove by at 60 MPH, no camera in hand. It broke my heart 😢. But in my mind’s eye I can still see the scene in great detail. Amazing how that works!

    • Hi Tina. Your vignette is such a very powerful word-picture. So moving and with such a sense of immediacy I felt I could see it, too. Thank you for sharing it here. Best, Babsje

  7. Babsje, really enjoying your image of the heron – beautiful with the grasses in the foreground. Thanks for sharing!

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