Artist’s Pick

Story Jan Swoope

GREAT BLUE HERON SPEARING SUPPER — “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Loraine Walker’s modest statement discounts the four or so hours the amateur photographer waited for this dramatic shot captured in May of a great blue heron spearing its meal at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.

“It’s probably one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken,” says the Macon librarian who frequents the Refuge.

Walker likes wildlife action shots, whether of grooming, building nests or searching for food. On a photographer’s banner days, it might be nabbing a frog or fish, but it helps to have a little luck on your side.

“It happens in a split second; you don’t often see it,” she admits.

For this shot, Walker was just off Bluff Lake, above the spillway, with her Nikon D7200 camera, Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 lens and a storehouse of patience.

“Sometimes you just have to stand there, in the sun, in the rain … you have to wait for these things.”

The bird had waded out, not far from the rocks, waiting, watching, moving its head from left to right as it stalked fish in a pool of bubbles churned by the spillway. When the opportunity came, Walker was ready.

The Noxubee County resident credits two of her former Mississippi State instructors for motivating her — Dr. Mark Goodman, who also influenced her interest in the Refuge, and Teresa Gawrych.

“I’ll spend the rest of my life learning photography techniques, honing my craft,” says Walker. “I like to get inspiration from fellow photographers — there are many amazing ones here — and I hope I never stop improving.”