Lake Gardiner

The Art of a Diving Duck by Todd Henson

The Art of a Diving Duck

When I photograph nature I’m often trying to capture interesting views of different species to share my love of nature and wildlife. But sometimes something more artistic can come out of my explorations. I’ll notice something beautiful, or something I think has the potential to become beautiful. And I begin exploring this, trying to find whatever it was that sparked my interest.

Diving Below the Glowing Surface

The 3 photographs in this post came out of one of these explorations. I had been photographing a Long-tailed Duck, a somewhat unusual species in Northern Virginia. It was very indifferent to human presence so I was able to spend a lot of time watching its behavior, and it was often close enough to fill the frame without need of cropping.

Across the Water

As I watched I kept noticing the patterns formed when the duck dove below the surface of the lake. Its long tail helped add an interesting element, either forming a fascinating pattern, or flicking droplets of water in fantastic patterns. I began watching specifically for the moments it dove, trying to capture as many variations of this as I could.

I think these 3 images best express what I was seeing and feeling as I watched this unusual duck repeatedly diving for food. I’m sure it was as indifferent to my excitement at the beautiful patterns it was creating as it was to my presence. But I’m very happy to have shared these moments with this duck, and thankful for the opportunities it gave me to explore my creative side.

All of these photographs are available for purchase through my online store, run by Fine Art America / Pixels.

Fine Art Prints by Todd Henson

Fine Art Prints by Todd Henson

Fine Art Prints by Todd Henson


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.

Art Prints

Purchase Fine Art Prints by Todd Henson


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