Selection of May 2023: Wings of Confidence by Fenqiang Liu

Wings of Confidence by Fenqiang Liu

Every year in the spring, the beautiful Kraft Azalea Garden in Central Florida, United States, becomes the home of many pairs of Great Egrets as they begin their nesting rituals. I discovered this magical place near my home in 2019 and spent much time there in 2020, during the Covid lockdown, capturing inspiring moments with my camera. Over many days of observation, I learned the birds’ habits and flight patterns. I was particularly impressed with how they knew exactly where they were going before taking off, so I focused on capturing those decisive moments with my camera. I also realized that the morning lighting was perfect at that location, so I went there in the morning most of the time.

For me, it is essential to showcase the Great Egrets in their natural habitat, where their true beauty shines. I use enchanting surroundings to create unique and evocative compositions that capture the viewers’ emotions. One morning in early May, I saw a beautiful Great Egret standing gracefully on an Oak branch with Spanish moss hanging under. I knew it would eventually take off, so I prepared my camera settings and carefully chose the position and angle. I anticipated it would fly from right to left since it faced left while standing. I planned the composition with negative space to the left and the beautiful Spanish moss on the right. Finally, the perfect moment came, and I quickly clicked the shutter, capturing the bird taking off in several frames. This image was one of the best among thousands of pictures I took that spring.

As a fine art nature photographer, I aim to create an exciting visual experience for the viewer rather than just documenting wildlife like a photojournalist. To achieve this, I don’t stop at the stage of freezing the best moment; instead, I explore my creative freedom during post-processing. I decided to enhance the image’s potential, emphasizing the bird and the Spanish moss while modifying the background. I made the blue sky darker and created a light beam with a soft digital brush from the direction the bird was facing. The result is a dreamy, dramatic, and artistic impression that draws viewers’ eyes to the captivating motion of the bird. Through this image, I aim to offer a glimpse into the enchanting world of Great Egrets, inspire appreciation for the delicate ecosystem that supports them, and remind everyone about the importance of conservation efforts to protect nature’s enduring beauty. 

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