15 March 2009

Egret plumes

Egret plumesI photographed this egret at Wellington zoo several years ago. Don't remember the species, and for some reason the fact the bird was captive reduces my curiosity about its identity, as if the bird has been partly stripped of its meaning and identity.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor


Anne-Marie said...

Oh, but this is beautiful. I love detail photos like this. The white is amazing.


christy lee-engel said...

This one gives me a shiver - the fineness of the feathers' textures, I think, and the white whiteness and shadows crossing...so beautiful!

Relatively Retiring said...

I agree with the above comments; a wonderful study of texture.
Then I think of the bird. What a responsibility, keeping that lot in good order. Is this display plumage? From a Darwinian perspective - why did that evolve?

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Anne-Marie :^)

Christy, glad you picked up on the shadows. To me, they seem a crucial part of this photo, and although it was a few years ago, I remember being drawn to the shadows and how they interact with the lines of the plumes.

RR, yes, it's display plumage. You see these sorts of plumes develop in many herons and egrets. I think the hypotheses about the evolution of display plumage like this (or even more extreme forms, like peacocks or birds-of-paradise) is contentious; at least, I think there's no consensus, although some of the hypotheses are certainly plausible.

butuki said...

I always thought that birds, with their much longer presence on the evolutionary stage, learned the value of visual one-up-manship rather than always resorting to physical violence. Just because physical strength gives you one advantage in survival perhaps doesn't mean that other forms of interpretation of reality are less powerful or effective. Perception and awareness are one way of altering an outcome, too. Birds seem to have taken the politics and possibilities of aesthetics one step further than we have.

I think I would have preferred a closer crop on the egret's body, and perhaps more sense of the sweep of the ends of the display feather... but an image that holds your attention nonetheless.

pohanginapete said...

Miguel, nice thought about birds perhaps having surpassed us in that sense. Lets hope more of us learn the lesson.
This was cropped during post-processing. I tried various options and this worked best, to my eye at least. the plumes were a bit ragged lower down, with more distracting elements in the background and I felt disinclined to take them out. I'm sure others (including you) would have cropped differently, but probably not greatly so. Then again, those subtle differences can have huge impacts. Thanks for the thoughts :^)