Posts Tagged ‘mallards’

Mallard drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 460mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Mallard (drake)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 460mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

About one week ago I made a trip down to Humber Bay Park on the Lake Ontario shoreline in Toronto to see which waterfowl have shown up to over-winter at this location. Unfortunately, it was a rather quiet day without too much activity, however, the usual assortment of Mallards were hanging around. I was hoping to have an opportunity to try out the Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens on ducks in flight, but as I said it was a quiet day and the ducks were not being overly active. With the Mallard ducks it is very easy to lure them in for images – all you need to do is make a throwing motion with your arm as though you are throwing feed into the water for them and they will immediately swim in your direction – without fail.

I never pass up an opportunity to photograph the common wildlife subjects. We tend to pass up the chance to photograph the common species because they are too common. These species make great subjects to practice and improve technique, test new equipment, try new things, teach the younger generations about wildlife, etc…the list is endless and do note that elsewhere in the world they are not so common. Enjoying what we have at our doorstep can be very inspiring 🙂

Here is a few photos of the Mallard ducks created with the new Nikon 200-500mm VR lens. On another note, these images were created with the Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens firmly mounted to a Wimberley Sidekick, which I will be reviewing in an up-coming blog post soon.

Please click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.

Mallard hen Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 320mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/320 sec

Mallard (hen)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 320mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/320 sec


Mallard drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Mallard (drake)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/640 sec.


Mallard hen Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Mallard (hen)
Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/500 sec.


Mallard drake - up-close & personal Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec.

Mallard (drake) – up-close & personal
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec.


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Northern Pintail drake

Yesterday I had a few spares hours while I was down in the big city of Toronto, Ontario. During the winter months, I love to spend as much time as possible over at Humber Bay Park along the Lake Ontario shoreline to photograph wintering ducks. It can be a great place to see Long-tailed , Scaup, Redhead, Wood, Black, and of course Mallard ducks. On some occasions it is possible to see Harlequin Ducks and other varieties as they pass through during the migration periods. With this winter being a little odd weather wise I was pleased to see a rather cooperative Pintail Drake hanging out with the resident Mallards. Whenever I plan to photograph at Humber Bay I always take along a pail of premium duck feed. Since the seeds and kernels of corn in this premium duck feed sink, the ducks must tip-up or dive down for the food. After they do this a few times they will always do several wing flaps. Although it is good practice to have a few documentary-type images, I much prefer to capture the waterfowl doing something other than floating on the water – behavior shots if you will. I also find the feeding frenzy created by the resident Mallards is a good way to bring in the duck species that are a little more timid.

This was a dark dreary kind of day and i would have much preferred some sun to make the duck’s colours really pop, but nonetheless it felt good to finally get out and create some fresh waterfowl images for my collection. Because of the dark weather conditions I decided to play around with some fill flash to try and gain a little pop to the resulting images.

Hope you like them.

Northern Pintail drake wing flap

Black Duck drake

Mallard hen wing flap

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I am by no means a computer genius and my photoshop skills are a little limited also. I tend to learn the techniques needed to achieve the results I am seeking. One such technique I have never mastered is masking to remove complicated objects or to change backgrounds for creative reasons. Recently Topaz Labs introduced Remask 3 which really simplifies the masking process. To find out more about this useful plugin click here. I have posted a couple of before and after examples of how this plugin was used to improve the photos.

In the Mallard drake images below I have always loved the pose of this duck as it came in for a landing on the frozen water of Lake Ontario in Toronto, but the white band of snow on the ice is very distracting and has always annoyed me. After masking the Mallard I was able to easily clean-up the distraction.

Before Remask 3

After Remask 3

The Brown Pelican (Atlantic Phase) below was photographed several years ago in Cuba on the island of Cayo Largo in the Caribbean Sea. I have always enjoyed this Pelican’s humorous pose, but the out-of-focus boat in the background simply ruins this image. After applying a mask using Remask 3 I was very pleased at how the software handled the fine feather details at the back of the pelican’s head. With the mask on a separate layer I was now able to remove the boat simply and efficiently.

Before Remask 3

After Remask 3

(I also rotated the image slightly and moved the bird to the right a little for compositional reasons)


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This afternoon I spent a few hours down at Humber Bay Park on Lake Ontario in Toronto. I enjoy this location for Mallard Ducks and other ducks species that tend to spend the winter here. The Mallards were particularly fun to watch today as they bathed, preened and chatted away the afternoon in a sheltered section of the park, away from the wind. Here are a few of the images captured during today’s outing.

Mallard hen preening

Mallard drake bathing

Mallard drake wing-flap

Mallard drake standing on ice in shallow water

Mallard hen preening

Mallard drake


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Today I made a brief, but productive visit to Humber Bay Park in Toronto along the Lake Ontario shoreline to shoot some additional waterfowl images. As usual there were plenty of Mallards to be found along with a few other species. It was a sunny, but bitterly cold day due to windy conditions. The Mallards didn’t seem to mind though and proceeded to put on quite a performance – from sliding in on the ice to splashing down in the water. Hope you like the photos.


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I love blurry photos. A pleasing blur of wildlife can help bring images to life by adding the sense of motion, while blurry photographs of subjects such as flowers or autumn leaves can create beautiful abstract compositions. Recently, I discovered how to create blurs in photoshop thanks to a wonderful new eBook – “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. You may check out the eBook here. I highly recommend this eBook. It has help me find new creative ideas for older images. The above image was created using techniques found within this eBook. The image below is the original, unaltered image direct from the camera. It sat in my archives, unoptimized, for a few years until I learned the various techniques to create the image above. Several times I almost deleted this image from my files, now I am glad I didn’t. You never know when you will learn new techniques that will give images life.

Hope you like the blur.

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One of my favorite subjects to photograph during the winter months is the Mallard duck. Although they are very common along the Lake Ontario shoreline they are perfect for practicing duck photography skills. Often I will go to Humber Bay Park in Toronto with a pail of duck food and spend the day shooting these beautiful ducks. After the ducks have finished “tipping-up” for the food that floated to the bottom, they will start bathing and flapping their wings, providing opportunities for behaviour type shots. In addition, I love to capture the Mallards on the ice that forms along the shore. Here is a collection of some of my favorite Mallard images from Humber Bay Park.


Hope you like the images.

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