Capturing images of great blue heron takes inspiration, patience

Five great blue heron at Pipeline Rapids. CREDIT: Shirley FoxI’ve met many people who are inspired by the awesome natural beauty and power of the James River. There have been many environmentalists, outdoorsmen, naturalists, artists, fisherman, photographers and more born from perhaps a single visit to Richmond’s riverfront.

After seeing so many wonderful photos of Pipeline Rapids and great blue heron taken by Shirley Fox, I’m now convinced that maybe inspiration could take longer for some, but perhaps patience is a virtue for the James River.

View of the James River from Riverfront Plaza. CREDIT: Shirley Fox“Believe it or not, I have worked at Riverfront Plaza for 20 years and just last year learned about this wonderful place! I fell in love with the wildlife, and have taken hundreds of photos, especially the herons,” Fox said. “My Shutterfly photo website that shows many of my photos, as well as a photobook I made from last year’s collection.”

Patience is a part of Fox's approach. See her photos of great blue heron. CREDIT: Shirley FoxPatience is a part of Fox’s approach.  See her photos of great blue heron.  They don’t just pose like that for anybody — you need to stay with them and watch for a while to get this kind of show.

“I’ve loved photography since I got my first Brownie Hawkeye camera as a teen because I like to make memories and to record them,” she said. “Until last year, all of my pictures were of family and friends and almost never wildlife.   But last year, a co-worker who often walks near the river at lunch told me about the Pipeline Walkway and the herons that were nesting there.”

Great blue heron at Pipeline Rapids. CREDIT: Shirley Fox She found a co-worker who she said is an excellent wildlife photographer, and they began to go together to the pipeline walkway two or three times a week during lunch from March through September.  

Snake at Pipeline Rapids. CREDIT: Shirley Fox “Being there so often gave us many opportunities for good photos.  Sometimes we waited maybe 10-15 minutes for a heron to catch a fish, but usually it wasn’t that long,” she said.  “There were many hungry birds and plenty of fish, so there was always action in front of us.  We were never there more than 45 minutes at a time, and I would easily get 100-plus photos on one visit. ”

She has gotten several shots of other wildlife as well, including snakes. So she’s not just patient, she’s brave too.


3 responses to “Capturing images of great blue heron takes inspiration, patience

  1. Thanks for this great article about my James River experiences! I am honored and humbled. Will I need much patience waiting for the check to come in the mail? ;->

  2. another great set of images of the heron’s is being created by dave parrish:

  3. David Parrish – I am experiencing a serious bout of heron envy here!! Your pictures are fabulous. Thanks for letting them be shared on my page, but you deserve your own. A-mazing photos.

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