Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 26, 2009

Collateral Damage

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, technique — richditch @ 11:07 am
Mallard portrait

Mallard portrait

The Mallard is such a widespread common bird that experienced birders pay them little attention, and that’s certainly the way I feel about them for the most part. For photography I consider them as “subjects of last resort,” even lower on my list than big slow herons and egrets. They can be found at almost any local park in the U.S., especially if there’s a chance of a handout from some visiting mother with young kids.

This bird was unavoidable at the Gilbert Water Ranch on one of the visits I made to photograph the cooperative Sora rail. It kept getting in the way of my shots of the Sora, and I deleted many otherwise good images where an out of focus green lump intruded into the frame. I eventually gave in to the inevitable and took a few shots of this duck.

This head shot is not my typical style or composition, but even with the converter off my 300mm lens the Mallard was just too close for a full body image showing habitat. I added some fill flash to keep the iridescent green from going black as often happens with the direction of light, and to bring out more texture in the chestnut feathers. Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens, SB-800 flash, 1/160th at f/11 at ISO 320.

Mallard with reflection

Mallard with reflection

I also took some full body shots, but given the lack of habitat I went for a more abstract/graphic composition using the reflection on the unattractive water (reflection of overcast sky). Without fill flash the head picks up some of the cold blue light from the sky. Of the two I prefer the head shot. Nikon D200, 300/2.8 with TC14E (1.4x converter), ISO 400, 1/25oth at f/10.


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