…morning light is magic…

Missed Opportunity – GBH Grabs Baby Gator

While taking baby gator photos at Brazos Bend State Park, had a very interesting experience that left me both angry at myself and also feeling very lucky.

Had the ideal, one in a lifetime, photo opportunity with a Great Blue Heron grabbing a baby alligator.  Found the GBH in the area where the babies were the previous weekend but momma gator was on the other side of the trail.   Knew to keep an eye on the GBH just in case the action happened.  I was trying to get a decent shot of the GBH when I made a couple of major errors right before the action hit.  I turned the camera vertical, switched to the top most focusing point and used F16 to get the GBH in focus as he was full framed at 500mm.  Immediately after I did that, the GBH struck and grabbed a little gator right in front of me.  Had my flash going but it didn’t help much as I lost the focus point and only got a shutter speed of 1/25 to 1/30 sec.  It happened too quick for me to recover and change settings.  Oh well, it happens.

The other interesting part was that the GBH then flew away over the trail where the momma gator was and who apparently was watching the action.  The gator shot out across the water about 40 ft making a large wave trying to get to the GBH.  Now that would have been a photo-op.  She wasn’t even close but it was quite an experience to see the whole episode unfold right in front of me.

The biggest lesson learned for me had nothing to do with my missed photos.  Note to self:  don’t stand between a mother gator and her young when they are attacked.  She could have easily shot out of the water and ran right into me on her way to the GBH.  Therefore, I consider myself lucky to see the action and not to be in the path of an angry mother gator.  In reality, I didn’t kick myself that much as it was very cool to see and there were some other decent photo op’s that day.

Here are some of the resulting photos just to punish myself on what I missed.  Maybe in my next lifetime…

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head, all uncropped full framed photos

1/60 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, fill flash with better beamer, just prior to setting it to F16

Brazos Bend_01805262013-2

1/30 sec @ F16, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, fill flash with better beamer

Brazos Bend_02105262013-2

1/25 sec @ F16, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, fill flash with better beamer

Brazos Bend_03005262013-2

1/25 sec @ F16, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, fill flash with better beamer

Brazos Bend_03205262013-2

8 responses

  1. So I’m not the only one who misses shots like that. Great story and great experience.

    May 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm

  2. Scott B

    I feel your pain and I now know I am not a lone as I have very similar series.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm

  3. Still, better than nothing. The photos certainly serve well for the storyline you present. We all make those same mistakes and just have to move on to other opportunities. Like you said, witnessing it was a pretty awesome experience. One you will probably never forget.

    May 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm

  4. Awesome experience but real glad you weren’t in the way of mom!

    May 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm

  5. Thanks Lyle. It was frustrating but exciting at the same time.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

  6. It would be nice to get all of the shots all of the time, but that’s not going to happen. Just wish that it would have been the case this time.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

  7. It was a good time dispite the missed shots. Did get some other good shots that I liked so it wasn’t a total loss. Your right. I won’t be forgetting this one any time soon.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:52 am

  8. Thanks David. I’m really glad that mom didn’t decide to head my direction as I was less than 20 ft from her at the time.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:53 am

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