This photo was a labor of love for Tara Tanaka, who shot it in her backyard cypress swamp in Tallahassee, Florida. "The lighting on this branch was beautiful between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. each evening," she says. "I spent every night for a week during that time waiting for the perfect shot of a great egret displaying in the beam of late afternoon light and framed by the large cypress trees.".
Tanaka finally managed to snap her ideal shot with a camera mounted on a spotting scope. Luckily, her backyard is well-suited for such opportunities; great egrets and wood storks use the 45-acre cypress swamp as a rookery each spring.
This image was a Top 100 photo from the 2012 Audubon Magazine Photography Awards. To see all of the photos, click here.