Waterfowl is a favourite subject for avian photographers. Ducks have striking plumage and some of the most colourful and intricate patterns to be found in nature.
One of the great things of waterfowl photography is that we don’t have to travel far for a fantastic photo opportunity. Getting close to the bird is important, so the use of a telephoto lens can be useful.
One of the best times for photographing waterfowl is early in the morning around sunrise, as generally birds are more active and it is a time when the sunlight will offer excellent illumination. It is generally an advantage to take our image from a low angle, and waterfowl often look better if they are looking at the viewer. The advantages of having a slight head turn towards the camera is that this angle places the tip of the bill closer to being on the same plane as the eye. This makes it easier to get both sharp, even when the depth of field is shallow. When combined with a good lighting angle, the slight head turn also can provide better illumination of the face and increases the chance of getting good light in the eye, which adds life to the image. If the eye is well-lit and in sharp focus, we are well on the way to a great picture.
A good guide to camera settings is to use a wide aperture of around f4 to isolate the subject, and a fast shutter speed to keep the image sharp. A great example of a waterfowl photo is Marg Hurley’s ‘Dedicated Mum.’ Hurley went the Botanical Gardens in Hunter Valley, Australia, to take pictures of its bird life. Hurley was taken by the position of the birds and the perfect overcast light which gave soft appealing shadows. Hurley used a Canon EOS 60D camera with a focal length of 250mm, an aperture of f6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/320 sec. Hurley’s picture was awarded an ‘Honours’ in the club’s monthly competition.
Wanaka Camera Club is dedicated to help improve the skills of anyone interested in photography. Our next meeting is Monday at 7.30pm at The St John Rooms, Link Way.