Goals and Milestones

Photograph of a Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Hunting in the Shallows.

I’m in a contemplative mood this morning so this post is going to be a little more from the heart. Hope you don’t mind the ramblings of a man who is trying to grow old gracefully.

I’ve rationalized just about every aspect of my life over the years, justifying to myself and to others, my reason for existing, my motivations, my mistakes and my successes. Most of those rationalizations bring me back to who I really am as a person and the self realizations that spring from these ever changing thoughts. I reckon that I’m not unique in this regard.

One thing I’ve rationalized as an important aspect of my life is always finding something to look forward to. My most depressing moments have been in times when I felt there was nothing to accomplish and my motivations in life have generally been based on this simple self observance.

As I’ve grown older, my motivations have seen an obvious shift and an overall simplification of what I believe to be the things I want to do to stay happy and stay engaged with life in a positive way. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I find that word to be the main pivot point of my thinking.

Of course, everything isn’t going to be simple. I don’t shrink from complicated things, my mind won’t allow that, but I always find a way to trim away the fat of what I consider meaningless attachments to anything I do. As time grows shorter for me, not wasting that time on life’s baggage seems to be goal.

Long gone are my aspirations of fame and fortune. I served my country, I did my corporate ladder climb to middle management, I’ve married and divorced and remarried and friends and family have changed over and over again. No regrets, but there is still a candle burning in my soul and that candle is used to light my next path in life as it always has in the past, with a low, flickering flame that can’t be extinguished by the actions of someone else.

Find something to look forward to. That is the simplified thought that drives me from day to day, and I have indeed found a way of having something to look forward to doing. Simple things usually.

After a lifetime of ambition and service to my employment masters, I started a small photography business and I’ve successfully kept it alive for over 12 years. I’ll continue to keep it alive as long as I’m physically able to do it.

My secret of keeping motivated is that I always find something in photography to look forward to doing.

Well, today I’ve reached another small goal, a small milestone and set a new goal and milestone to replace it.

The goal I set for myself in 2018 was to have at least 2,000 images on sale at the stock agencies before the end of the year. Nothing monumental in the grand scheme of things, but to me, it’s an accomplishment. This morning I had my 2,000th stock image approved and it’s now online with the others. It won’t make much money over time, maybe five or ten dollars a year if I’m lucky. But, when  I look at what it cost me to take that 2,000th photograph, it adds up to about 3 dollars in gasoline and one hour of my time. I’m certain that I’ll profit for having taken the time to look forward to that next photograph. The next photograph has value beyond the few pennies it will make me. It keeps me motivated, it keeps me engaged and it pays for itself in the long run. What could be more simple than that?

Today’s photograph is of a great blue heron. It’s my 2,000th accepted stock photo and I’m quite proud of it.

Today, I’m sharing it with you too.

The Interloper

Great Blue Heron by Gary Gray
Great Blue Heron – Colorado (NIkon D810/200-500mm VR)

Spring is in full swing here in Colorado.

This morning’s weather was exceptional so I made my way to the tree in the lake shortly after sunrise this morning. It’s good to know and understand the light in the location you’ll be working. Though these birds are roosting in an open area, the sunrise light is actually obscured by trees and buildings for a wee bit on sunny mornings. No reason to rush.

Today, a new great blue heron showed up. When he arrived, he was quite surprised to see that all of the available nests in the trees on the island had been claimed. There are two nests with great blue heron in occupancy, with one mating pair in the most visible nest. The remaining nests are occupied by mating pairs of cormorants. This guy shows up thinking he’s found a spot, but the nesting cormorants would have nothing of it.

When the mating male heron left the nest to go stick hunting, this guy decided to make a pass at the now unattended female. He didn’t even bring her an offering of a stick. If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know her heart is not for the taking. She immediately gave this stick-less schmoozer the cold shoulder and a threatened him with a face or belly full of angry beak.

She’ll have none of the interloper.

Some Days, All You Have To Do Is Show Up

This morning was a very nice morning of photography at the tree in the lake.

The bird activity was primarily the double-crested cormorants, however, the great blue heron were present and ultimately gave me a present. Photographically speaking.

This morning’s gift was an entire great blue heron mating sequence in good light.

So, guess what today’s entry is going to be about.

These next five photographs explain everything. (Nikon D810/200-500mmVR)

It all starts with the stick. The male great blue heron will bring sticks to his nesting desire. If she likes the stick she will add it to the nest. If she really likes the stick, well, you’ll see.

She likes the stick.

She more than likes the stick. This is “thestick she has been waiting for.

Notice how the feathers on their necks puff up. Look at her gaze at the male suitor. This is the moment they choose each other.

The male asks her to mate and the female obliges by positioning herself in her new family nest.

Once the female has positioned herself, the male mounts her.

I’ll spare you the additional bird sex, but I will tell you that it last about 10 seconds and he’s gone.

Some days, all you have to do is show up.

Patience

Heron Photograph by Gary Gray
Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is what I refer to as an LST.  (Large, Slow Target)

As an LST, it’s easy to fall in to the trap of taking the easy shots. I fight that urge constantly and growing older doesn’t make success come easier.  No, it’s always better to try something a little different, to push the edges, to get a shot you don’t have.

There is a park near my house where the herons nest every year. You may have heard me refer to it as the tree in the lake. There are; however, three different lakes within a quarter mile circumference so I don’t always work from the most common and comfortable photographic vantage point.

On occasion, one or more of the nesting Herons will leave the nest for an extended visit to one of the other lakes.

Yesterday, I followed this Heron to a shallow area in the lake full of cat-tails and reeds. They sometimes hunt these waters for small fish, crayfish and other water critters

I’ve worked these birds in this location for many years but there are shots I have yet to get as things don’t occur when you want them to occur.

The real trick to wildlife photography.  Persistence and Patience

The Best Camera is the One You Have With You

Blue Heron by Gary Gray
Great Blue Heron in Flight

The Nikon D810 arrived yesterday afternoon so I had to test it at the tree in the lake this morning.

Seems in good working order. The Great Blue Heron like it, as best I can tell.

I can now retire the D800.  That leaves me with a three body field kit for this summer.

Nikon D7200, Nikon D750 and Nikon D810.

The D850 will have to wait a couple of years. Should be off back-order by then.