Feeding ducks is something everyone enjoys but next time you head off for your Sunday morning stroll around your local pond, pocket your camera as well as the treats you take for the Mallards and Swans.
As ducks are used to people visiting with goodies they're not usually skittish so getting close to them shouldn't be a problem. Even still, taking along a small bag of bird seed to scatter will keep the ducks in front of you for longer increasing the chances you have of getting a good shot.
Flat banks are the perfect location for photographing ducks as the low angle gives you a shot that has more of a duck's eye view. If you don't want to work hand-held, take a long a light-weight tripod or beanbag to sit your camera on.
Winter's a great time to head to the water's edge as the sun sits at a lower angle for longer which means you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn for softer light. You'll also get mist rolling over the water – perfect for silhouetting a bird against. For a bit of variety try shooting their reflections or look for interesting behaviour such as fighting or preening activities.
If you find their feathers are lacking in detail try adding a little fill-in flash. Just remember for birds such as Swans that have lighter feathers you'll need slightly stronger light. This time of year when lakes can be slightly frozen light will be reflected off the icy surface back under the duck, highlighting detail in their plume. For particularly gloomy days switch to a slightly higher ISO so you can use a quicker shutter speed. If you're out when the sky is rather bright keep an eye on your exposure if Swans are around as a white bird against a bright sky may mean your camera underexposes the shot.
For shots of birds in flight make sure you're on continuous focus and get the focus locked on the bird straight away. To freeze their movement in the air or when they're splashing on the water try a shutter speed of around 1/500sec but if you want to be a little more creative try to blur the motion of the wings with a slower speed of around 1/30sec.