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Elegance of a Long-tailed Duck by Todd Henson

Elegance of a Long-tailed Duck

In early April of 2019 I had the immense pleasure of spending an entire day photographing a Long-tailed Duck that had departed from its typical migratory route to spend its days diving for food in a small lake in Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, located in Northern Virginia. I’ve written about this duck previously in On a Golden Pond, Reflecting on a Long-tailed Duck, and The Art of a Diving Duck.

Today’s image does a great job showing off the duck’s namesake long tail. I really like the pose the duck gave me, how it turned its head just slightly, looking my way, as if it were a professional model posing for the camera. Very elegant, I thought. And the water droplets show it had just recently been underwater, and was just briefly pausing up top before diving below again. Can’t get much better than that.

This photograph was created just before 5 PM with the sun behind me and having just drifted below the trees in the background. This helped provide a nice soft light on the lake and the duck. I wasn’t directly at water level, but I did have the camera and tripod down low, to photograph the bird as close to its eye level as possible. This helps us better connect with the subject and often looks much better than standing up tall and looking down at something. Give this technique a try some time. Get down to your subject’s eye level and create photographs from their perspective. See what you think of the results.

If you like this photograph please consider stopping by the shop. In addition to wall art, you can purchase greeting cards, throw pillows, and a number of other products for around the house or as gifts.


National Geographic Complete Birds of North America by Todd Henson

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National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America is one hefty birding resource. I’m not entirely sure what it weighs, but I wouldn’t want to drop it on my foot. It contains over 740 pages and measures approximately 7” x 10” and is about 1 3/4” thick.

You could think of this as a field guide on steroids, or perhaps a small birding encyclopedia. It has a layout and content very similar to most fields guides, but contains more information about each species. Some of the illustrations are smaller than in my Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, but with much more text about each species, providing descriptions, guides to identification, geographic ranges and variations, similar species, characteristics of voice, status & distribution, and breeding information. It contains maps, photographs, and illustrations.

Pages 200-201 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 200-201 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Many folks these days might not need a resource such as this, what with all the information freely available online. But I’ve always been a bit of a book lover, and I think this book would appeal to those of you who love holding a resource in your hands and flipping through the pages reading about different species. I’ll look up a specific species and end up spending much longer than anticipated flipping through reading about other species.

I have far too many field guides and bird books, but I’m still pleased to have added National Geographic Complete Birds of North America to my library. It’s the sort of large resource you keep at home where you can study and learn at your leisure, then head into the field to seek out first hand what you’d just read about and studied in the book.

 
 

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