Peeling Back the Sky

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Peeling Back the Sky 

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Barry W. Hollritt,  2003

The Great White Egret, who is  known as Ardea alba  has a long, wonderful neck.  One afternoon on a warm September day I was traveling along a two lane highway through the rural central area of NJ.  It was an overcast day and I had not planned any photography to occur… though my camera was tucked soundly under the seat!  As I passed a rural field, I noticed an old barn off the road.  At the next exit, I made a detour to go find the barn, for I felt a photograph was brewing.  Like many of my images, the road to the barn led me to a totally new subject.  Before I reached the barn, I found a scene I thought would be wonderful.  A field of cows were walking across a stream and the scene seemed very special.  I forgot the barn.  I began to photograph the cows!  As I walked amongst the cows, to my surprise, a Great White Egret circled above me and I instantly raised my camera.  “Peeling back the sky” captures the same egret that I then photographed a few minutes later in a wonderful and unique image called “Peeling back the water”.  This first image I call “Peeling back the sky” was taken a few moments after I saw the amazing great white as he passed over me for the first time.  After exposing this image, the great white circled a few more times and landed in the stream beside me.  As he started to stalk, I preserved the second scene.  This first photograph is a black and white rendition of the bird, almost drawing-like in it’s perfection.  I am very fortunate to have both these images, for each is unique in it’s own way, and yet quite different.  This particular bird has to be viewed as a special encounter for me.  As we crossed paths that day who would have thought that I would have two very rich and special images that preserve the Great White Egret in two wonderful instances.  “Peeling back the sky” makes me shake my head each time I look at it, for if I had tried to plan such an encounter, I could have waited days for just the right moment.  In this case, it happened in a few seconds, just as the soon to occur “Peeling back the water” occurred as quickly.  Thank goodness I had my camera that afternoon.


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