Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 13, 2011

Just Mallards

Filed under: Birds, comparisons, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 1:28 pm


I admit I can still be something of a bird snob, being more interested in the glamor birds (rarities, raptors, eye candy) than in the more common species. I’l still try to see the rarities when they are reported, but I don’t travel nearly as far as I used to when I was motivated by adding some species to my life list, or my state list, or my county list, or my year list.

Bird photography has been a big factor in mitigating the tendency to chase and in the reduction of the snob factor.  It takes time and energy to be a good bird photographer, and that means there’s less time and energy to squander on long drives to get fleeting looks at something to be able to check it off a list.

Bird photography profits from getting out very early when the light is best, and waiting around patiently hoping for subjects to photograph in that good early light. While waiting for a more “exciting” subject to appear (there’s that snobbery again) it only makes sense to look at the more mundane common birds. At least one can”practice” taking photos and not let the good light go to waste.



Do this often enough and there’s an epiphany: just because a bird is common doesn’t mean it isn’t worth photographing.

These two images of a Mallard were taken moments apart at the Gilbert Water Ranch where I spend most of my birding time these days. It was the light, and the way it reflected off the vegetation on the other side of the pond and turned the water golden, that really caught my eye. I was delighted when this drake Mallard moved across the reflection. I prefer the head position (it catches the light better) in the first shot, but light the water and reflection a bit better in the second.

2/11/2011, Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E 2x converter, ISO 400.

Mallard on a log

Mallard on a log

A couple weeks earlier at the Water Ranch it was a female that caught my attention when it rested a while on this log in another pond. I liked the graphics and textures, and od course of the early morning light. ?It really didn’t matter that it was “just a Mallard” on the log.

1/28/2011, D200, 300/2.8 plus TC14E 1.4x converter, ISO 400, 1/400th second at f/8.



  1. Rich,

    All of these mallard images are great, lovely light, details & sharpness.

    I really respect and admire photographers who do not pass up the chance to make a common bird look uncommonly beautiful. I do it myself every chance I get. (even when I can convince Ron to stop so I can photograph Starlings)

    Well done!

    Comment by Mia — February 13, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  2. I thought I recognized that log you have the female mallard photo on. If you look at my post on 2/8 of the black-necked stilt, you’ll see the same log.

    Bird photography has greatly increased my enjoyment of the common and once mundane birds. A great bird photo of a common bird is always impressive to me. A photo that captures a unique or interesting behavior or a color/feather pattern that you would not have seen otherwise is always special.

    Comment by Robert Mortensen — February 13, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  3. These are lovely. I tend to snub mallards too. My son insisted we stop to photograph them at the Water Ranch last time “because the light is perfect on their heads.” Looks like he has the right idea.

    Comment by Kimberly Hosey (Arizona Writer) — March 2, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

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