Beautiful Great Blue Heron in Motion Blur

Great blue heron soaring above the cove.

Great Blue Heron soaring above the cove – babsjeheron

One moment the Great Blue Heron was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves.

I didn’t see the Great Blue Heron until he was almost upon me, speeding west towards the channel as I paddled the kayak east, deeper into the cove. One moment he was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves. So close!

All I could do was aim the camera and pan.

And if both hands weren’t already occupied holding both the camera and kayak paddle, I would have crossed my fingers in hope that the photo would work out.

I only got off one frame during that encounter, the photo in this post. No time for bracketing.

Usually I don’t engage in meta talk about the photos – the photos should be part of the story of the Herons, rather than having the story be about any photographic techniques. In this case, though I’m making an exception. The motion blur in this photo is all natural, not the product of any digital darkroom magic. Given that it was taken from a moving kayak, hand held, and that the Heron was flying exceedingly fast and in the opposite direction from my own heading, this photo had a very high degree of difficulty.

What a day it was at the lake with the Heron. I love it when surprise encounters happen.

The amazing Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic On The Water. John Steiner is the host this week. My photo today took place during an exciting and fun encounter on the water.

Check out John’s beautiful water photos here: Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 155: On the Water .

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

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.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on July 7, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Nature Photography, Photography, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography, Wordless Wednesday and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Beautiful job of panning. I know from experience how hard that is to get it right.

  2. One good shot is all that matters.

  3. Ab Fab! So, having just a simple point and shoot camera, I’m unclear about how you got this. Does panning mean follow it as best you can and just keep clicking? Or do you do a bit of purposeful motion as you click? Anyhow, it is one of my favorite pics. 😀

  4. Clicking photos while managing a kayak is really challenging!!!!

  5. What a fantastic catch! I know I would have either dropped the paddle… or the camera! I do miss our kayaks!!!!! 😞

    • Thank you Ma”am! This was so tricky that I was leaning almost backwards against the kayak seat with my right arm and camera extended far overhead and my sense of balance really off kilter for a moment that I thought the kayak might roll over. Glad you liked it. What with your nest box and trail cam you don’t need your kayak these days. Take care. Best, Babsje

  6. great panning effort Babsje! Slower shutter speeds and a steady hand creates a interesting picture. I’ve done the same but it was because of a mistake on my part. My shutter speed was too slow.
    With panning you have three results, either it’s too fast,too slow or just right. I like to think of it like a bicycle wheel. Your subject is at the rim and your at the hub. A single spoke joins you both.So you do not move too fast or too slow.

    • Great comment Wayne! Your explanation of the process is very good. I like the bicycle wheel example. In the case of my photo here, who had time to even think about shutter speed? Pure shooting from the hip as they say. More point-and-hope luck than anything. Best, Babsje

    • Your description of SS is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Her porridge not too hot, not too cold, just right! 😊

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