Where the Wild Things Are

As the sun rose through the thick humidity of south Florida, a cacophony of sounds hit me as I approached this waterway in Big Cypress National Preserve. The water seemed to be boiling, with smaller splashes of fish jumping and birds grabbing, and larger splashes of alligators snapping their jaws. The sound was almost deafening, but I felt so alive and grateful to witness this amazing natural world. I've never seen such an abundance of birds, especially the elusive wood stork. And those hungry alligators - so many in one place!

The tension was palpable. I watched this great egret stretch its neck toward the water and suddenly flap its wings. I caught the shot as the egret skimmed across the water on the hunt, surrounded by alligators patiently waiting for their next meals. You can almost feel the heat in the golden light shimmering in the air and water. I love the translucent light glowing through the wings, and the graceful movement of the egret, as if it is dancing across the water like a ballerina. And, yes, the egret made it across the water!

I didn't do a lot of post-processing with this image. The light was spectacular as is. I cropped in a bit and did a few minor color corrections. I cropped in more to show just the egret, but kept the original image as well. I decided that the surrounding elements were a big part of the story that I wanted to tell. The drama unfolding shows the egret, (the star), the surrounding birds on shore (the supporting characters), the alligators (the lurking danger), and the surrounding environment of the fish in the bubbling water (the motivation). Is it a story of risk-taking, of braving the elements and going for it, or is it simply an image filled with beauty, light and grace? You get to decide.

See the uncropped version below. I like them both for different reasons. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in a reply to this email. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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