These images were taken in late February. As I write this, most, if not all, of these ducks have left the region and are winging their way towards their breeding grounds (or already there). Since I finally finished editing my images, I thought I'd celebrate their departure and say I'm looking forward to their return next fall/winter. These images were taken of a large mixed flock (mostly canvasbacks; Aythya valisineria) of ducks that hang out during the winter and early spring on the Choptank River just offshore from Cambridge and several boat marinas. The proximity of this location to civilization means that hunters can't shoot at them and locals (and some photographers) occasionally come and feed them corn. It's a win-win situation for the ducks as long as the river edge is free of ice.
This first slideshow contains portraits and behavior shots of single birds or small groups. Spending over a half a day at the site this time around; I was able to observe and photograph some great breeding and feeding behaviors. Included here is an image of an American wigeon performing its "head-forward" swimming display and two drake mallards in an intense physical confrontation (which was repeated many times).
Choptank River Feb28-Portraits - Images by Elijah Goodwin
The next slideshow is the result of some experimentation on my part and I'm interested to hear what folks think. I've always been dissatisfied with the group shots of ducks I've gotten at this location. They always seem lifeless. They don't capture the beauty and action of the situation. In addition, composition is a constant problem because there seems to be no way to avoid overlapping or cutting of the bodies off of some of the ducks once you try to photograph more than two individuals at the same time.
So I decided to play around with making abstracts of the feeding frenzies by photographing at 1/30th of a second and a smaller aperature to gain greater depth of field. Many of the resulting images came out blurred in unpleasant ways or chaotic, but I got a few images I was happy with. Those fell into two categories, first where all the individuals were blurred from motion, but in a pleasing way and consistent with their natural motion; second, where one individual was relatively still (usually just after surfacing from a dive) and in focus, while all the other individuals around it were blurred. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Do you like them? Dislike them? Do you have a favorite? My personal favorite is the first completely blurred image with the wigeon prominent in the foreground. I love the fact that it has a watercolor feel to it and it nicely captures the movement and chaos of the event.
Choptank River Feb28-Abstracts - Images by Elijah Goodwin
Have a great evening!