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Landscape Marine Nature Wildlife Photography

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Landscape Marine Nature Wildlife Photography

Photography Tips to Create Images with Impact!

“Mallard Duck Pair”
Anas platyrhynchos
Pair of Mallard Ducks - male and female resting beside water
Laguna Lake Park, Fullerton, California
11-04351-DP © 2011 Don Kreuter ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To stay in shape to carry my photo gear in a backpack (with up to 50 pounds on backpacking trips) I hike 2-6 miles per day and also constantly scout for new photo subjects on the hikes. On many of my hikes around Laguna Lake and in this case the inlet stream from the filtered lake water leading into the lake I had previously seen many ducks that were comfortable around people. That morning I happened to be photographing wildflowers and was traveling light with only a wide-angle zoom lens and a new rented 105mm macro lens that was being tested. It would have been nice to have a long telephoto lens in order to photograph the ducks from a distance. As I walked around the creek and saw the pair of ducks there was nothing to loose by trying. It took patience to slowly creep toward the ducks without alarming them. They were sleeping when I first saw them and had one eye open to check things out. Then slowly the eye would close on one duck at a time.

Camera Equipment and Settings:
Camera: Nikon N80 SLR 35mm film camera
Lens: Nikon AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm lens 1:2.8 G VR Vibration Reduction
Filter: NONE – bare lens
Settings: 1/90” f5.6 shutter speed to freeze any motion and concentrate the focus on the subject
Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber 05XPROB tripod, Nikon lens shade – to prevent lens flare from the sun,
Film: Fujichrome Provia RDP 135 100 ISO Professional Film
Bracketed Exposure: +.5 / -.1 f stop on multiple exposures
Flash: Nikon Speedlight SB-80DX mounted on hot shoe TTL with -.5 exposure on flash to highlight detail in shadows and not overexpose the highlights
Camera Bag: Lowepro AW Backpack
Date: 3/22/11
Time: 900 AM PST 0900

Photography Tips and Information:
Since I had been hiking around in the area frequently the ducks did not seem too concerned about my presence. However I would have to get close to fill the frame with both ducks and only a 105 mm lens. The challenge to get a photograph with impact is all part of the fun. By being patient and slowly approaching the pair of ducks I was rewarded by observing them for over 20 minutes as I slowly crept closer and closer on my knees, then sitting down. The camera and tripod were already set up and positioned so the photo could be made sitting down then I pushed the gear forward one step at a time. Each time the ducks opened an eye I froze and looked down, with eyes hidden under a wide brim hat so they did not think I was a predator stalking them for a kill. I wanted to make the photograph without disturbing the ducks. Flash fill was used to highlight the details in the shadows and help paint the dark iridescent blue green head of the male duck and the eyes with light, since they tend to go black with available light in a normal exposure.

Ironically the ducks were not disturbed and let me approach close enough to fill the frame while they were lying down and resting to make my photographs. I saved two frames for an action photo and wondered what to do knowing the photograph would look better if the ducks were standing up and not sleeping with their eyes closed. My patience was quickly rewarded when another Male Mallard Duck came racing across the stream with wings flapping and quacking as he approached the sleeping ducks. The sleeping male jumped up out of his nest and chased the intruder away and then came back to his mate who he protected and was also awakened by the commotion, then both ducks settled down and posed nicely for me.

It was perfect, my slow approach, non aggressive and calm energy (from meditating) made it easy for the Pair of Mallards to completely ignore me and let me make my photographs. Many times while meditating wildlife has been attracted to me while making photographs since the animals enjoy the positive energy being emitted.

Even on wildflower photography expeditions be prepared to capture the images of wildlife to complete the story.

Always respect wildlife and do not disturb the animals and you will end up being in the right place at the right time to make a photograph with impact!

Celebrate Life and enjoy Nature and Wildlife everyday!

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