Photographer captures coastal beauty from behind the lens
Roselyn Pierce-Shirley’s career as a nature photographer began two years ago when she and her husband, Dr. Joe Shirley, were remodeling their weekend getaway bay house between Bayou Vista and Harborwalk in Hitchcock.
It wasn’t long before she noticed several herons, egrets and roseate spoonbills in her canal fishing for their winter evening meal. A north wind had blown in, pushing all the water out into the bay, leaving fish trapped and easy prey for the birds. Pierce-Shirley told her husband she had to have a camera. He bought her a Canon 3Ti, and her passion for photography took off like a pelican soaring over smooth, salty waters.
Pierce-Shirley grew up in East Texas but has been a resident of Clear Lake Shores for more than 30 years. She’s an eighth-generation Texan, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Audubon Society. She spent three decades as a successful Realtor in Galveston County before deciding to pick up a camera and capture the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.
Her hobby became professional when she entered two photos in the Galveston Art League spring juried show. One was of an egret. A fisherman whose boat the egret was fond of riding called the bird Charlie. But Pierce-Shirley called the egret “Narcissus” because it loved to gaze at its reflection in the water. The second was a flying pelican. Both won honorable mention, and Pierce-Shirley quickly became known as the “Galveston County Bird Stalker.”
One day, Pierce-Shirley ventured a few miles down the road to the marshlands around Harborwalk, where there’s an abundance of wildlife, including snakes, alligators, turtles and all varieties of beautiful birds. In the pond next to restaurant Floyd’s On the Water, she noticed an alligator sunning on the bank of the pond. She pulled her car up close, opened the window and snapped a shot of the hissing gator. Diners at Floyd’s will see her photo of the alligator’s photo hanging on the restaurant’s wall. But that alligator isn’t on the menu.
Pierce-Shirely also has captured with her lens more than 30 mature red slider turtles, which escaped from a home and procreated in the wild.
One of Pierce-Shirley’s favorite places to take photos is the retention pond in Kemah.
But she discovers the greatest joy from Mother Nature in her own backyard, where she says, “God is in the details.” There, she took a photograph of two snails in a small puddle of water that had accumulated on a bird of paradise just as the rain had stopped.
Pierce-Shirley donates photographs regularly to local nonprofit fundraisers and her work is hanging in homes, businesses and galleries.