Ring-necked Duck captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 w/Z1.4x

Waterfowl have a number of really cool attributes making photographing them incredibly rewarding. There is the watery world they live in, it can be an instant clean background. There is their coloration which is the rainbow personified. Then there is their head shapes making them distinct and at times, comical. The fun is combining all of these elements into one frame that says it all. Take this Ring-billed Duck male as an example.

The top frame is my favorite and it came after spending about an hour with them. I started by finding a place to stand to get the reflections I wanted in the ripples, the background. They changed based on where I stood and what the water saw to reflect. There was a partial God scrim going so by making small moves, just inches, I could play the gray / blue patchy sky in the ripples. Then there was the light on the “purple” head feathers that the sky was helping as well. The indirect light was essential in getting that color. Then finally was putting them together with the “eyebrow” head shape with those orange eyes. The top shot was what I was after, the gallery below (click on arrows to see all) are the shots leading up to the final one. It was a ton of fun just working the duck to get the right combo of background plus attitude!

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