Piers Blackett  

Mallards in Winter  by Piers Blackett

February 2024 - Mallards in Winter

February 2024 - Piers Blackett


About the Image(s)

I was curious to know how birds would be reacting to very cold conditions earlier this month and found a familiar spot on the west shore of a city lake to catch the evening sun. I found that ducks were gathering in a corner of the lake which had remained ice-free because inflowing water.
Several ducks were flying in and out of the scene including this Mallard pair flying against a snowy background.
My settings were f/8, 1/3200 sec, ISO 800, focal length 420 mm (lens: RF 100-500 with a 1.4 extender, but I was zoomed out).

This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted

Martin Newland   Martin Newland
This is a nicely caught image, Piers.
I like your treatment of the final image. It is nicely cropped, but I am not sure that I entirely agree with the left to right eye movement. It works well in this case, and for a moment I thought you had given me two different images to post.
Well done. Maybe try and tease out a little detail in the shadows on the birds if you can   Posted: 02/01/2024 01:05:25

Piers Blackett   Piers Blackett
Since I had tried pushing the de-shadow slider to no avail, I have taken steps to complete a pictorial image as opposed to nature. I tried some cloning from two separate images of Mallards in flight with matching bit depth and size (attached).   Posted: 02/02/2024 18:15:10
Comment Image

Jim Wulpi   Jim Wulpi
I like the crop to eliminate clutter and choppy waters. The reversal of flight works well, too.
The powerful downsweep of the males wings provides stunning lines. My only suggestion would be to try to coax a bit more contrast between the very tip of the females wings with the woods at the distant edge of the lake. They are the same tone and the tips get lost.   Posted: 02/05/2024 11:34:39
Piers Blackett   Piers Blackett
Thanks. That's a really great point I had overlooked. Midground and background are overlooked in nature photos I think.   Posted: 02/06/2024 10:16:47

Karen Botvin   Karen Botvin
Nice capture of the male with his wings down and the female with her wings up. Not sure you could have planned that! Although I like how you worked the original by cropping out unnecessary elements, I'm not sure that the end result works for me. I see 3 distant layers: the water; the snow; and the trees. Perhaps cloning snow in place of the trees would both add the female's wings separation from the trees as well as get rid of the messy background. I would also try a lighten up the males eye a bit.   Posted: 02/09/2024 14:17:40
Piers Blackett   Piers Blackett
The image was selected from a burst, but lucky to find good wing positions. I agree the distant background is too dark and dominating. I have used a linear gradient on a duplicate image to reduce the blacks almost all the way, then painted in the background on the image while preserving the top duck's feathers. I brushed in a reduced temperature for the sky to give it a slight blueness.   Posted: 02/09/2024 17:47:33
Comment Image
Karen Botvin   Karen Botvin
Oh yes, much better!   Posted: 02/10/2024 17:04:24

Terri Adcock
I love seeing nature in its environment shots rather than a tighter crop which seems fashionable. You could de-contrast the background a little to remove some of the insistence it has   Posted: 02/18/2024 11:16:37

Piers Blackett   Piers Blackett
Thanks. That helps.   Posted: 02/18/2024 18:12:31
Comment Image