Itasca Heron


Along the northwestern shore of the northern arm of Lake Itasca runs the Schoolcraft Trail. 

One summer morning in 1993 I was hiking out to the end of the trail to photograph Schoolcraft Island. The echo of visions to the headwaters was fading and the sounds of the forest were taking over with each step I took.

As I walked I imagined what it must have been like for Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and other early European explorers to this region without the groomed trails. Suddenly a great blue heron took flight from the shoreline. I wondered, could there be more birds catching the warmth of the morning sun?

I slowly made my way off the trail to where I could see the lake better and I froze in my tracks as there was another great blue heron standing on a fallen tree.

My 4x5 was already on the tripod so I just needed to quickly and quietly compose the picture and make some exposures. There was a big problem though as I looked at the ground glass to focus and compose it was obvious that I had the wrong lens on the camera. The right lens was in the pack on my back. Moving slowly as not to scare the bird and never looking directly at it I replaced the lens and got a couple of film holders ready.

Back under the focusing cloth, I was surprised that the bird had not moved at all. I quickly focused the camera and made two exposures on color transparency film. I thought wow, Mother Nature was really smiling on me, maybe I should try to get even closer if I can. I slowly picked up the tripod via the center column and lifted one foot, with that tiny bit of movement the bird took off. It was as if the bird was saying you got what you needed.