Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Duck-Fly and Quack

This drake mallard duck was singled out during a spring courtship flight.  He was part of a group of drakes circling a pond with a hen and he obviously came very close.  Notice that his feet are not deployed so he wasn't slowing to land.  The angle of the wings gives the composition a very nice diagonal line.  The real bonus is the wide open mouth as if he were quacking directly at me.
100-400mm lens, 1/1250 second at f/5.6, ISO 400.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cupped Wings-Descending Ducks

These three ducks are in descending flight with their wings cupped.  They are gliding toward a pond for a landing and the center duck has put down his feet to help slow the descent.  Mallard drakes on the left and center, one hen on the right.  There were quite a few ducks on the pond and during the spring they are flying with more frequency on their "courtship flights."  The flight speed is considerable, even when descending like this, so keeping sharp focus is always difficult.  Crossing ducks are easier to keep focused but the shot is not as dramatic.  On this shot the center focusing points were active so I kept them locked on the center bird.  The composition would have benefitted if the three birds were higher in the frame, though.
400mm, 1/1000 second at f/5.6, ISO 640.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flying Mallard Duck

A flying drake mallard duck approaching at high speed.  This photograph was taken recently during the spring courtship flights that is part of the ducks' mating ritual.  This male was probably in the company of one female and at least one other male vying for her attention.  Notice that his feet are not deployed as airbrakes so he is not slowing to land.  In fact, it was so cold his feet are tucked inside his feathers.  This is an extremely difficult shot to get because the high speed and close proximity make focusing very difficult.  It's hard enough to keep the bird in the frame!  My success rate is low.  This one is extra nice because the diagonal formed by the wing angle contributes so much to the composition.  Also, the mouth is wide open as he calls.
100-400 lens at 250mm, 1/1250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Alpine Ski Racing-Slalom Course

This is a photograph of an alpine ski racer at a gate on the slalom course.  There were seldom any sunny days this winter when we were photographing races so this day was a delight.  The detail in the snow is lost with the low-contrast, overcast days.  The blue sky is very pleasing.  On overcast days the dull snow is only slightly different than the dull sky.
The camera position was chosen carefully to capture maximum body angle at the gate and to get the camera as low as possible.  The background has an obnoxious tower but if we had moved our position to the left we would have been uphill too much and the low angle would have been lost.  The rest of the background is uncluttered, though, and nicely out of focus.  Good action here as the skier has just made contact with the gate and snow is spraying from the skis.
400mm lens, 1/5000 second at f/3.5, ISO 100.