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Reflecting on a Long-tailed Duck by Todd Henson

Reflecting on a Long-tailed Duck #1

Reflections can sometimes add a really nice element to a photograph. In the case of these two photographs the reflections are of the Long-tailed Duck I was fortunate to photograph during early April 2019 on Lake Gardiner at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia.

I spent the entire day observing and photographing this male sea duck, who strayed a bit further south than usual during its migration. It spent a lot of time below the surface of the water feeding on the bottom of the lake. Each time it surfaced I was ready to create more photographs if it happened to be against an interesting background or if it performed an interesting behavior. In the case of these photographs I really enjoyed how the surface of the water, though still rippling, showed the reflection of the duck. I also liked the patterns the water was making.

Reflecting on a Long-tailed Duck #2

Click on the photos and look very closely between the duck’s eyes. You may see some small streaks of green from the aquatic plant life the duck was bringing up from below.

Do you like these photographs? If so, consider purchasing one from my online store. Reflecting on a Long-tailed Duck No. 1 and 2 are available as wall art or on a variety of products, such as greeting cards, tote bags and throw pillows.

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On a Golden Pond by Todd Henson

On a Golden Pond - A male Long-tailed Duck in Northern Virginia on April 6, 2019.

What type of duck is that?” I thought as we watched this beautiful duck repeatedly diving below the surface of Lake Gardiner at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. I had never seen anything like it in the area. It had very distinctive coloration around its head, and it had a very long tail.

I didn’t have my long lens with me, but I did the best I could to capture photographs that would be good enough to identify the duck from field guides. On the way home I was able to identify it. We had seen a Long-tailed Duck, which is a sea duck, on a small lake in Northern Virginia. This was very unusual. I’d have to come back on the weekend with my longer lens and see if it was still there.

Thankfully, when I returned on Saturday the Long-tailed Duck was still at the park, and still diving in the same small lake. I spent almost the entire day circling the lake, watching and photographing this lone duck. Others had heard of it, drawing a small crowd at various times around the lake. But the people never seemed to bother the duck. It swam around the lake in circles, sometimes getting fairly close to the shore, always diving to the bottom, sometimes coming up with green plants hanging from its bill.

This particular photograph was created later in the afternoon, when the sun provided a nice glow to the duck, and reflections of a blooming tree on the opposite shore turned the water a beautiful golden color. I’d been watching this stretch of water, waiting and hoping the duck would swim through. Not only did it swim through the golden water, but it turned its gaze towards me, allowing me to capture this wonderful moment of a rare Long-tailed Duck spending a little time in a small lake outside its normal range, making at least one local birder and photographer very happy.

If you like this photograph you can purchase it at my online store. On a Golden Pond is available as wall art and on a variety of products.

Fine Art Prints by Todd Henson

Up at the Jefferson Memorial by Todd Henson


Up at the Jefferson Memorial. Washington, DC. 3/30/2019


One of the highlights of visiting Washington, DC is stopping by some of the many memorials around town. One of these, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, sits along the Tidal Basin and is a very convenient stop when walking the Tidal Basin viewing the spring cherry blossoms.

The Jefferson Memorial can get very busy and crowded, and this was certainly one of those days. But I found one way of minimizing the crowds is to look and photograph UP. Of course, it helps when you’re using a fisheye lens capable of seeing both up and into the memorial. This let me capture both the statue of Thomas Jefferson and the ceiling of the main entrance into the memorial. You can see the heads and shoulders of some of the crowd down below, as they fill the memorial, admiring the statue and the writings on the inside walls.

A fisheye lens can introduce a lot of distortion to a scene, creating curves of what would normally be straight lines. I did correct a small amount of this curvature in Lightroom and Photoshop, attempting to straighten the columns as much as I could. But I left the rest of the curvature because I liked the way it looked.

Next time you visit a memorial take the time to look up. Maybe you’ll find something interesting to photograph, even if you don’t have a fisheye lens with you.

If you like this photograph you can purchase it at my online store. Up at the Jefferson Memorial is available as wall art and on a variety of products.


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