Pamela Hoaglund  

Eye to Eye by Pamela Hoaglund

January 2020 - Eye to Eye

About the Image(s)

I live about 20 minutes from a national wildlife refuge. Last spring there was an abundance of garter snakes and the great blue herons were feasting on them. I was fortunate to capture this heron catch a snake about 20-30 feet from me. I had been watching this heron and have learned that when they are focused on something and they start to wiggle their backside they are about to strike. I was surprised when he came up with this snake and I think the snake was even more surprised. I got off a few shots with my Sony a7MII with Sony 70-300mm lens, 1/1250sec at f/6.3, ISO 800 handheld. ON1 RAW 2019 was used for post processing which included cropping, adding some dynamic contrast and a vignette. I don’t do a lot of manipulation to my images other than basic tone adjustment and setting black and white points. If there was one thing I wish was better in this image it would be a more blurred background.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
8 comments posted

Mike Cohen   Mike Cohen
What a great snake. If you don't mind, what wildlife refuge? I like the composition a lot and the snake facing the heron is terrific. I'm a bit distracted by the background. I might paint in some desaturation and blur or negative clarity and/or reduce the luminance of the background. If possible, I would dodge a bit on the bird's neck and snake's belly. Welcome to our group Pamela!   Posted: 01/10/2020 13:22:48
Pamela Hoaglund   Pamela Hoaglund
Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR south of Tacoma, WA   Posted: 01/11/2020 20:52:46

Lisa Auerbach   Lisa Auerbach
Pamela, welcome to our group. You have begun with a shot that has great color, texture, and nature story. It is as if the snake and heron know the end of the story. Their eyes are well captured and are looking at each other. Texture is good on both the feathers and the scales. Well done. If you are unhappy with the blur perhaps lowering exposure on the background and/or adding a vignette might take the viewer to the story and de-emphasize the background. Where is the nature preserve?   Posted: 01/11/2020 18:10:39
Pamela Hoaglund   Pamela Hoaglund
Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR south of Tacoma, WA   Posted: 01/11/2020 20:53:30

Sharon Prislipsky   Sharon Prislipsky
It looks to me like you have captured a great nature story. I love the look the snake is giving the heron. I'll bet the heron beat the snake to death before consuming it. Did you get any shots of that? I find the color palette is very pleasing and realistic. The heron must have been quite close to the background vegetation which must had made it hard to get more blur. For me, the most distracting thing about the background is the bright white streaks, so I think darkening the background would help a lot. OnOne is one of my go to post processing choices, but I do my RAW conversion in LR. What I like about OnOne is how easy it is to mask. I think if you went into Effects and selected dynamic contrast you could easily paint in reduced reduced exposure and contrast on the background area.   Posted: 01/14/2020 09:10:12

John Roach   John Roach
(Group 64)
Pamela, welcome to our study group. I think you have a very strong story and composition with your image submission. The depth of field, color harmony, focus and overall tonality of the subjects is wonderful. I find the background while having a nice bokeh, a bit too bright for my tastes. Toning that that down would enhance the image greatly. Perhaps using a masking process or do selective burning to keep that background from being a distraction.   Posted: 01/15/2020 13:03:27

Judith Lesnaw   Judith Lesnaw
WOW! You have captured a powerful moment in nature. The composition is is wonderful: the curves of the bird's neck and snake's body, the opposing bird beak and snake mouth, the repetition of the snake's green in the background grasses, and that bird's eye. I believe that the background blur is sufficient; it is the brightness that is distracting. I would follow the suggestions others have made to tone it down. Welcome to our group.   Posted: 01/22/2020 15:05:53

Welcome. What a wonderful image. I have to agree with the rest that the background is a touch too bright and the suggested fixes. To my eye there are 3 areas of concern with the snake. The area right behind the head, where the body goes into the bill and the lower curve portion of the body. My recollection of garter snakes the top of the body was a darker grey and black (I know there are different color variations). But I feel the single row of scales that are light grey to white areas should be a bit darker to really finish off the snake. It does look like a directional thing that may be a reaction or reflection of the sun.
The concentration of the Great Blue and the expression of the snake are super. Great clarity, color and detail of the main subjects.   Posted: 01/23/2020 10:05:35