Photographing the Great Egret in B&W

Today’s Post by Mildred Alpern

At the northeast end of Central Park sits Harlem Meer with its man-made lake, lush vegetation, and abundant wildlife. Along its banks, a solitary Great Egret delighted me one afternoon nestling in reeds and posing elegantly. A captivating form, it sat with perfect stillness as I approached. Perched on a rock, beyond dried grasses, its glittering eye scanned for food. Then it took off, but quickly returned in clearer view. A sunny day with sparkling water and fresh green grasses flooded the scene with vibrant color.

Conventional wisdom holds that the use of black and white simplifies and focuses a viewer’s attention on the essential form. Truly. And it was the egret’s form I wanted to capture, the undulating S-curved neck and sharp-spearing bill, without color distractions. Then too, monochrome enhanced the reverential mood of watchful silence, the egret’s and mine.


For the shots, I used the Olympus E-M5 and Olympus M. Zuiko 75-300 f/4-6.7 (150-600mm equivalent)l ens. The semi-covert egret was photographed with a setting of 300mm, an exposure of 1/250 sec at f/4.8 and ISO 200; the egret in clear view with a setting of 171mm, an exposure of 1/500 sec at 5.9, EV+1/3, and ISO 200.