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Sunset Mallards

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We have, what is euphemistically termed a lake - but is in reality only a large pond, only a 100 yards from my house. At this time of the year it's a bit of a war zone, with too many drakes competing for the ducks. I found this pair on my front lawn yesterday evening, as the sun was going down, enjoying each others company & the respite from the throes of competition. Grin

Thanks for looking.
Crit/Obs/Advice always most welcome

Brand:Nikon CORPORATION
Camera:Nikon D100 Check out Nikon Nation!
Lens:18-200 AF-D
Recording media:JPEG (digital)
Focal Length:200mm
Lens Max Aperture:f/5.7
Aperture:f/10.0
Shutter Speed:1/250sec
Exposure Comp:0.0
Exposure Mode:Aperture-priority AE
Metering Mode:Center-weighted average
Flash:No Flash
Title:Sunset Mallards
Username:strokebloke strokebloke
Uploaded:12 May 2011 - 5:33 PM
Tags:General, Mallards, Peace and quiet, Wildlife / nature
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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.
pamelajean
pamelajean Critique Team 8829 forum postspamelajean vcard United Kingdom1638 Constructive Critique Points
13 May 2011 - 8:52 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Hello, Jack. I, too, have a lake on my doorstep, and the ducks often retreat into nearby gardens, getting fed up with the squabbling. Some swim around in garden ponds, some lay their eggs and hatch them in my neighbours' gardens. I think this is essentially a good image of the mallard hen and drake, and they look completely relaxed and at home in your garden. The light is very contrasty, causing strong shadow areas. The male duck has very little eye detail, but I fully understand that if the light isn't hitting the dark head, the eyes disappear into the shadow. And yet the eye is lovely in the female. Your exposure is good, and you have just held the white of the male's plumage. I have done a modification where I cropped the left side, adjusted highlights/shadows to lift the shadow areas and deepen the whites, then desaturated the image a little, to give it a more natural feel, though this is purely a matter of taste. Then I took the eye from the female, mirrored it and gave it to the male, also very slightly enhancing the one on the left. I admit to having done this with coot pictures, where their red eyes get lost in the black plumage.
Pamela.

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strokebloke
13 May 2011 - 10:12 PM

Pamela, you're amazing. I would never have thought of doing that.
I did think about brushing a white spot on the drake to give the appearance of a catchlight, but when I enlarged it, I had to admit that positioning the 'catchlight' would be pure guesswork.
The drake's tailfeathers are right on the point of being burned-out. I personally found the sunset lighting, with the shadows, quite difficult to meter. In the end I metered off the flank feathers of the drake, and the hydrangea shadow, and compromised, accepting that I would lose a lot of the head detail. I didn't expect it to show up completely black

Thanks for your instruction & the mod.

Much appreciated

Jack

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