Details: Taken Nov 11 2007 with my Canon S3IS Camera, JPG image file.
Composition Notes: A group of 5 ducklings took up residence in a small pond at a Iris Garden and Nursery. They were in the pond the day I was there and I spent quite a lot of time stalking them with my camera. This was my best shot of the day. I couldn’t get all 5 into this shot, unfortunately.
Technical Notes: The S3IS is a point and shoot bridge camera ie it has only one lens. Its probably around midday, so the light is strong and overhead. Shot taken while crouching down, from memory due to there being rocks and plants around the edge of the pond I couldnt get lower. I am zoomed all the way out to get this shot, and its nice and sharp. Reflections and highlights are overexposed but the rest of it looks OK.
General Notes: This shot made me sit up and go OH! I was pleased and surprised at how sharp it was for the amount of zoom I got out of this little camera. Within its parameters it was quite a good piece of kit. I was trying to get their eyes in the shot, didn’t quite have the right angles, and I do particularly like that you can see one foot.
Whats Wrong With It?
I should have made more of an attempt to get lower, this was something I had yet to learn, and I think the environment was a bit limiting. I didn’t know they were at the nursery til I was there (was buying irises) or I might have been a bit more prepared. Highlights are blown, way too much reflection on the leaves. It is very heavily cropped to cut out the messy background
What I would do differently now?
My current kit includes a 70-200MM F4 IS lens, so I have the flexibility to shoot much closer, and faster. I would get a lot lower and more intimately. I would also engage a helper and a bag of bread to bring them to a part of the pond that gave me better shooting options
Could I do better now?
Yes and I think I have (see below) but I would like to note that this image did make Flickr Explore – one of only 8 shots of mine that have. Given my inexperience I think I made the best I could of the conditions and got quite a nice shot out of it.
Comparison shots taken in last couple of years:
I spent a morning crawling around the banks of the Avon by the Hospital stalking ducklings, and I took up residence under the rhododendrons. The light was in front of me which would normally not have worked, but I was aiming for a more backlit effect. Note the catchlight in the eye. This is the most recent of the 3 shots.
This was one of the first decent shots I took with my 40D and 70-200. Stalking this family on a riverbank as the sun was setting, inching closer and closer (dressed in my work clothes lying flat out on the dirt). Its still over exposed by quite a lot. The challenge in this was getting the shot, I learnt a great deal from that experience, and while it isn’t perfect, I got the shot I wanted. Who knew ducklings had fluffy eyelids!
I was in the right place and did the best I could with the kit and the knowledge I had. The original photo has a lot of faults, but I also feel like it shows that I had an eye for composition, even then. Its reasonably well framed and composed and cropped. The cluster of ducklings shot shows I have learnt more about composition, I was right down at ground level trying to get the most intimate of angles.
The third shot shows all of these things, plus framing for lack of distraction, taking advantage of the available light, knowing about catchlights and timing the shot to get one. Its been tightly cropped as well, but for a handheld shot its quite sharp.
So yes I think this shows that when it comes to shooting ducklings, I have learned and grown from my experiences. Have my images improved? I like to think so but would love your feedback.