The Egret’s Gift
The reworked image

The Egret’s Gift

I had taken a photograph of a Great Egret from my peddle boat on the small caiman-filled Tortuga Lake that gently flowed behind my home in Panama. I loved photographing birds from the boat when I lived there. The seasons of the year were marked by their presence. Tanagers, Grosbeaks, and Flycatchers migrated there in the northern winters months. While the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck bred on the lake. I felt highly favored when the ducks took their babies out for swimming lessons while I floated nearby, bearing witness. It was times like this that I felt like the lake had accepted me and my camera as one of its natural residents.

A pair of Great White Egrets lived on the lake all year long. One of them sat on the branch preening. I wondered how close he would allow me to get. In fact, my lens lost focus as I inched closer and ended up needing distance to get the photograph.

I loved this shot of the Egret! I admired the way his neck bent. I loved the angle of his orange beak, the dark of his eye, and even the framing of the branches in the background and the blown-out sky. All of it was lovely to me.

I showed the photo to a mentor photographer, who proceeded to explain all the ways the photo could be better. The person was not wrong.

However, I have finally come to understand that a photograph is so much more than technique. It is about those moments when life has opened up its doors and allowed you in. It is your life process. Your curiosity, drive, obsession – that has leads to an intimate moment. One that has changed you, one that you have been gifted. Technique doesn’t live there. Your life does – and that is enough.

I pulled the Egret’s photo from my archives and reworked it from the creative well of today. Once again, I was on Tortuga Lake feeling blessed and highly favored. Here is a look at the original photo and the reworked image.

Jamuna Burry

Exploring ideas on creativity through digital art.