Mallard Drake

Interesting that we have a “Bird on a Stick” category for perching birds, but we don’t have a “Duck on the Water”. I liked this image because of the stump in the background. The Mallard pose is ok, but nothing special but to me the stump just defines the environment.

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Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Sony A7Riv, FE200-600 + 1.4 TC @ 840 mm, tripod with ballhead and Sidekick mount, f/9, 1/1250, iso 640, manual exposure. Processed in LR & PS CC. Cropped to 7092x4836. I added some blur and burned the upper half of the image because the stump was at that in-between focus where it wasn’t sharp but was a bit too focused to become a true background element. I also did a bit of cleanup on the water and eliminated half an out of focus duck on the upper left edge. Taken at 10:55 AM on March 17th.

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Dennis, I like that stump too. It is a nice shot of the duck in the water, but without the stump, that is what it would have been, another duck in the water. He is a very colorful drake, and I like that his reflection brings out those colors as an echo. Very nice shot, with great details in the duck.

Hi Dennis
Blurring the stump helped this photograph. The Mallard coloring, feather detail and reflection all combined to produce a nature photograph. How is handheld tracking of bird in flight, with the FE200-600mm + 1.4ext?
Nice work.

I agree with you, the stump adds a lot to the image and helps define the environment.

Agreed about the stump making a more complete story about a duck we all are so familiar with. Good idea to blur it - I have to bear these techniques in mind for my own ‘not quite sharp enough, but important to the scene’ elements.

Hi @peter I really don’t have enough experience at that yet. I’ve never really tried ducks in flight (haven’t really done that much duck photography period). However, I did try some grab shots Wednesday and the focus seemed to lock on pretty well even on a female mallard against an extraordinarily busy background. I suspect for eagles and such things I’d take the 1.4 off, but I’m not sure. This is the first high focal length zoom I’ve owned where I could actually use a teleconverter and be happy with it. The manufacturers always say they’ll work, but I never had much luck with them.

Hi Dennis
Thank you for the information. I am trying to work out in my mind, if I upgrade to a a7r4 or R5 how well a 100-500m +1.4 or 200-600mm +1.4 will handle tracking birds.

@peter Hi Peter: An add on to what I posted earlier in response to this question. I’ve attached the results of a grab shot of a female Mallard with the crazy busy background that I mentioned. I didn’t do any processing to this image other than cropping to 5132x3481 (nearly full frame on the 7Dii) and converting it to jpg using the default Lightroom settings. It was shot at iso 3200 so there’s a fair amount of noise that I’d have to handle if I processed it but it shows you how the A7Riv with the FE200-600 and 1.4 Teleconverter locks on. This bird was never in front of a halfway clean background, so it locked on with the kind of background shown.