One of the pure joys of being a photographer is being witness to singular moments of beauty. Sights and events that suddenly appear before you that stop you in your tracks and stun you with their absolute clarity and simplicity. Regardless of what you choose to photograph there will be moments that occur when everything seems to come together to produce an image that sums up why you return to nature over and over again hoping to see an amazing occurrence and capture it.
Walking along the bank of a pond in Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge late one afternoon hoping for a shot of a Black-crowned Night Heron I had spotted earlier before the sun dropped lower making it too dark to shoot into the reeds where they like to stand, this plover suddenly flushed and rose into the air out of the darkness, into the sunlight above the reeds.
As it rose higher the sunlight caught its wings outstretched, highlighting the translucent primary feathers, gently illuminating the soft white under belly with a greenish reflection from the reeds below. The golden light caused the dark area on the back of its head and neck to turn into a gorgeous mahogany hue. My vantage point allowed me to capture it against the dark reeds and nearly black water below making it standout in gorgeous contrast.
These moments last for mere seconds and the plover with a few powerful wing-beats was soon gone, flying off into the distance. My camera had been set for shooting into the darkness of the reeds where I expected the heron to be and it was just sheer luck that those settings worked for this image also. A lot of these situations are serendipitous in that everything is totally spontaneous and unexpected and you have only moments to react and capture the scene. When you do successfully however it simply adds to the need to get back out there and try to make it happen again.