Split-Second Photo Captures Osprey With Symmetrical Reflection

Osprey Gliding Across Water by Andy Woo

A trip to a local nature reserve to photograph a green heron transformed into something much more for bird photographer Andy Woo. Two years ago, Woo joined a friend on a mission to photograph the heron, only to witness an incredible feat of agility by an osprey. His photo of the osprey barely grazing the water, with its reflection in perfect symmetry, has now become one of his most popular images.

As a bird photographer, Woo knows that he always needs to stay on alert and scan his surroundings for something interesting. That particular day, he was in for a real treat when the osprey made its appearance. “The osprey showed up without warning, dipped, and was back on the trip within the span of roughly 15 seconds,” Woo tells My Modern Met. “The skim itself was over the span of roughly one second, so that part was literally ‘you blink and you'll miss it.'”

The spectacular performance by this bird of prey happened at the end of its regular hunting routine. These adept hunters mainly eat fish, and they will dive into the water feet first to snatch up a meal. While they are typically quite successful with their dives, Woo notes that this time, the osprey came up empty-handed.

Osprey Gliding Across Water by Andy Woo

“Although I couldn’t figure out what just happened at the time, in looking at the sequence I captured, it looks to me like the osprey tried to grab a fish out of the water, missed, and then could not get enough lift to quickly get back in the air,” he shared.

Though Woo knew that he'd captured something special, he never could have guessed that the image would take off like it has.

“When I first posted this photo two years ago, I was pretty amazed at how well it did on Instagram, but I didn't know it would take off on a life of its own,” he admits. “Without me knowing it—in most cases—it kept getting reposted and forwarded elsewhere. I am grateful to friends and even complete strangers who have reached out to let me know that my photo showed up here and there. All in all, I'm just amazed and flattered by everyone's appreciation of this photo.”

Woo hopes his image will encourage others to get out into nature and appreciate the wildlife that surrounds them. He's quick to point out that his photo of the osprey was taken at a nature reserve that was very close to where he was living at the time and that it was on the outskirts of an urban environment. To him, this proves that you don't have to travel for hours to remote locations in order to see birds do incredible things.

In 2020, bird photographer Andy Woo had an incredible experience with an osprey.

Osprey Portrait by Andy Woo

Osprey Flying by Andy Woo

Osprey Landing on the Water by Andy Woo

Osprey Flying by Andy Woo

After a failed hunting attempt, Woo photographed the osprey skimming the water.

Osprey Flying by Andy Woo

Today, the unexpected photo is one of his most popular.

Osprey Portrait by Andy Woo


Andy Woo: Instagram 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Andy Woo.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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