Mother Nature can prove quite uncooperative with amateur photographers. During one foggy morning in 2007, I explored the restored habitat near Chrissy Field in the Presidio on San Francisco’s north shore between Fort Point and the Marina District when I espied this egret on the prowl for breakfast. Now here was a challenge; photographing an egret in the act of catching a fish. I don’t know what musculature one might find in the necks of these birds, but you can stare at them, never take your eyes off them, never blink, and still not see them when they strike: they move that fast.
San Francisco’s Presidio used to be a polluted mess dating back to its military days. I’m proud to write that I briefly temped at International Technology, the company that restored the habitat. To give you an idea of how good that firm is, if you planted a multi-vitamin with zinc anywhere in the 1,480 acres of land, they had the device that would find it. Then they would have to remove the vitamin because technically a multi-vitamin with zinc is a pollutant. Ironic, isn’t it?
So the fact that birds find enough food to live there is astonishing; the restoration succeeded that well. I wanted to photograph an example of that success, as represented by the egret. However, I took over a hundred pictures in the effort to record a successful strike and failed every time. They are–just–that–fast. Fortunately, digital cameras and their blessed delete buttons will reward pure dumb stubbornness sooner of later, and I nailed a strike with the above picture. If you look closely, you can see a small silvery fish struggling in the egret’s beak. Sometimes Luck = Persistence plus, well, plus nothing. Sometimes luck is nothing but persistence.
Vonn Scott Bair