Long-Tailed Duck in Arkansas

Long-Tailed Ducks are not supposed to be in Arkansas. But a few winters ago, I found some on a pond on a small piece of land that my parents own. My dad and I were riding a fourwheeler, and we saw a bunch of ducks on a pond. All the ducks flew up except for one group of odd, white ducks. It is very strange in Arkansas for any ducks to stay once they see people because ducks are hunted so aggressively. I looked at the small group through binoculars and took a very distant distant photo–and to my surprise, it was a small group of long-tailed ducks! I came back the next morning well before sunset and in full camo. I snuck near the pond and waited for daylight. As it got a little lighter, I belly-crawled closer to the bank. Of course, all the other ducks flew off, but the long-tailed ducks stayed. I started timing their dives and would get up and run closer while they were all underwater. Eventually, I got in photographic range, and they tolerated me. After the light got harsh, I was able to sneak out the way I came, and the ducks stayed for a few more days. I had to go back to school, and the ducks were gone by the next weekend. One of the most enjoyable mornings I’ve ever had photographing birds.


ISO 640

In post, I cropped the photo and resized it. Then, I sharpened the bird and ran some NR on the BG. I also used a Darks 3 (I think) luminosity mask and did a levels adjustment on the blacks. Finally, I used a mid-tone mask to brighten up the water and background a touch. All feedback welcome.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.
1 Like

Hi Lyle,
nice catch of the wing flap and I like the tail sticking up like that. Exposure looks really good to me. I like the tan color all around the bird. Nice sharpness. Minor nits are that I would remove the black spot on the left near the wing and wish for a more complete head turn (real minor nit there). A very fine image.

Excellent, Lyle. A great pose, nice light and a sweet low angle. I do think you might wast to remove or tone down the dark spot half way between the wing tip and the left edge. If it were mine, I’d probably take just a bit off the right edge as well. The wing tip and tail tip are almost equidistant from their respective sides which makes the duck look more centered than it really is.

wow, gorgeous! colours, light, position in frame - all just great.
The dark area by the wing is a minor, easily-corrected nit.

Lyle: very nice capture with the bird posed against the oof background. The subdued tones of the water and background really make the bird pop. Minor nits would be to remove the dark spot by the wing and to give it a CCW rotation. Richard

Exceptional Lyle, one of your best.
About perfect light…

Yep, may want to print this one!

Really superb lighting and detail on this duck. I like the point of view quite a bit and the color of both the water in the background really make the bird stand out well. Interesting position. If it were mine I might crop a tiny bit off the right side decentering the duck a little more. An excellent image.

Looks pretty good as is Lyle! I’d love to see one of these around here!

I’m with the rest regarding that bit of black in front of the duck. But nothing serious to me. The placement of this guy in the frame works for me though, yes, you could crop a bit of that space off the right side of the image.

Really nice and congrats!


Congrats on the editor’s pick Lyle!

I can see why this would make Editor’s Pick. What a beautiful photo of this gorgeous bird. Great angle, exposure, color - well great everything! :slight_smile:

Thanks all! Glad you like it. This is one of my favorite photos. It was a special morning for me!

One of the best LTD-shots I have seen. Wonderful pose, and very appealing colors. They look at their best when like this. Interesting that they stayed, I have heard stories that by nature they are curious and don’t go off immediately and sometimes even come closer to check who/what you are. No clue if this is true, but your approach worked very well ! Love it ! cheers, Hans

Great story and great image! Isn’t it great when you find a rare species!? Keep up the great work!