Carolina Wild Photo (the blog)

Coastal NC Ducks

by on Mar.06, 2015, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Before February closed out, in the midst of freezing temps and snow, I had a couple of days break with good weather. I took advantage of it by heading out to the N.C. coast on a day trip hoping to photograph some ducks. The morning was overcast, as was early afternoon, but about 2 p.m. the clouds blew away for almost 3 hours of light. The ducks weren’t coming as close as I had hoped, so I didn’t get any close-up portraits, but I did get a few passable flight shots, which was what I was after anyway.

Drake Scaup banking hard

I had to shoot these standing in salt water up to my waist. I was wearing insulated chest waders, and warm clothes, so I was plenty warm despite the cold water and wind. The only real issue with shooting in salt water is having to disassemble, rinse, clean, lubricate and reassemble the tripod afterwards. But that’s a part of the job with wildlife photography. 

Drake and hen Redneck ducks streaking past

Ducks are fast flyers since their wings are short and small compared to their body weight. They have to fly fast like a jet fighter just to stay in the air. You can see this easily in this image of a drake Scalp “smiling” as he speeds past me.

Drake Scaup smiling at me

There were plenty of ducks to photograph, but they were not being overly cooperative. They tended to stay just outside of good range, even with a 500mm f/4 and 1.4x teleconverter at my disposal on a 1.3 crop factor camera body. That’s the nature of bird photography though. It seems you seldom have enough reach, but that’s part of what makes it such a challenge.

A group of Scaup over the water

I took hundreds of photos, the vast majority of which were not keepers. But I did get a couple of special shots to add to my collection, making the long day trip worthwhile. Sometimes you get a lot, and sometimes you get nothing. That’s just the breaks. The best you can do in wildlife photography is try to put yourself in a good location with the right equipment and preparation to increase your chances of getting good photos, for there are no guarantees…. except that you’re pretty much guaranteed it won’t be easy.

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