Cranes In The Fire Mist – The Runner Up

Fire Mist Sans Flight Photo by Scott Bourne

Cranes In The Fire Mist – The Runner Up

Many of my long-time readers know the story of Cranes in the Fire Mist. I wrote a post on Monday of this week describing that image and the process I went through to get it. Of all my published images, it’s the most well-known.

But I have never commercially published the runner up. Never – until now. The purpose of Cranes in the Fire Mist was to get movement into the shot that I had seen in my mind’s eye in an attempt to tell the story of the three primary species that inhabit the refuge. I needed some birds flying into the shot to complete that vision. The flight component proved to be the hardest to get in the 12-13 year span I spent trying to make Cranes in the Fire Mist.

But there were several versions (minus the birds flying into the scene) that I successfully captured and that I really liked. One that I called “Fire Mist Sans Flight” is my favorite of that bunch. I have never commercially published this image before for two reasons. The first is that the marketer in me worried that it would somehow undermine (dilute) the sales of the favored image. But it dawned on me. It’s been almost a dozen years since I published Cranes in the Fire Mist. I’ve had great commercial success with it. I think it’s pretty much played out so I am going to release the runner up.

The second reason I never published this image was that it just didn’t occur to me.

One of the editors who helped with several of my books was over for coffee the other day and was looking over my shoulder as I perused my photo library. He asked me to enlarge a photo – it was this one. He said “That’s really nice.” When a book editor says “That’s really nice” it’s code for – “HEY DUMMY – PUBLISH THIS ONE!”

He had never seen the second place and encouraged me to publish it. When HE said it I thought – sure – why not? I have looked at this image 100 times. It resides in the same folder as Cranes in the Fire Mist. But I never really noticed it because it sits next to the winner.

I am publishing this image with a goal that goes beyond commerce. It’s to serve as a reminder that just because you don’t get the image you came for – doesn’t mean you won’t get one you still really like.

Fire Mist Sans Flight Photo by Scott Bourne

So, here it is. I printed it yesterday and it looks really good at about 30×40″ on rag paper. The moral to the story is: You have to see the forest in spite of the trees.

It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. I have proven that over and over. But it’s only through sitting down with professional photo editors that I have been able to learn the value of the second or third shot.

I’m letting go of Cranes in the Fire Mist and now will embrace some of the other shots I made over the years trying to get it. I think this one is my favorite. It was made under identical conditions as the winner but, there are no geese flying into the scene.

I decided to go for something a little moodier in this image because most of the time when I arrived at the refuge for these images it was dark.

Whether or not you like this picture, you can learn from my experience. Always look for the second or third shot too. It may be a winner.

Cranes in the Fire Mist is sold out but this image is available for purchase. If you’d like to show your appreciation for this site, and the hard work I do delivering free content every week, please consider the purchase of prints or gifts featuring my bird art; visit for more information.

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