Momma Duck & Duckling No.1 [9270]

While walking around a public park, I noticed a duck in the underbrush, next to the trail, sitting on a clutch of eggs. She was not happy about being photographed, but luckily for me, she wasn't going to run away either.


The next morning, when I went to take some additional photos, I was pleasantly surprised to find that two of the eggs had hatched--the duckling you see is less than one day old.


This photo is part of my Ducks & Ducklings Set.


Canon 10D

70-200mm f/4.0L

1/125 + f/5.6 @ ISO 100

  • noonespillow 9y

    Beautiful capture of the moment..

    Rated a 8.5/10 at the Ratings group.
  • Anwesha Mandal 9y

    Thats lovely rated 8 out of 10
  • Mazda Hewitt 9y

    Lovely shot, the focus on the duckling and the look is really spot on. However the depth of field is just too narrow, I don't mind the duck being a bit soft, but here I feel it is too much

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 4.5/7 ranking.
  • Bob Davidson 9y

    A little blurry, but still a good shot.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 5/7 ranking.
  • Oliver Lavery 9y

    Very nice image, and great detail in the forground. The dof is far too shallow, and it would be nice if there were just a little more light on the duck in the background.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 4.5/7 ranking.
  • Jim Loftus 9y

    Technical merit ...lovely duckling (there's a pun in there somewhere, I know it) - it's a real shame the mama isn't in focus, the detail in the feathers and in the little one are exquisite (I'm also intrigued by the detail in the nest - all types of little bits in there), the coloring and lighting are also well done ... (2.5/3)

    Artistic merit ...wonderful image of a mama and her little one, again, the single biggest issue is the out of focus mama (I can deal with out of focus backgrounds and such, but there is just too much of the image that is out of focus - it draws all my attention away from the baby) ... (2/3)

    Bonus point ... (0/1) (reserved for faves)

    I'd love to see a close up of the duckling and more of the nest (I don't know why, but I find the make-up of the nest as interesting as the duckling itself).

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 4.5/7 ranking.
  • Redgum 9y

    Hmm. If you have apeture control, next shot would be better with Momma's head in focus. Some cameras have a DoF preview button, which in this kind of situation would be very useful. The duckling is precious.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 4/7 ranking.
  • Elliot 9y

    The duckling is perfect, but a shame that the mother duck is out of focus.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 5/7 ranking.
  • Gail S 9y

    I really like the capture of this moment. Good work. The mother duck being out of focus doesn't bother me; however, it seems to distract one's attention from the baby.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 5/7 ranking.
  • Paul Cory 9y

    The duckling is tack sharp and very engaging.

    The out-of-focus mom looks disturbingly menacing. The lack of sharpness seems to enhance her wary expression.

    I think the best picture here is at the bottom. Crop it so that you remove mama's face (from just below the bill up, see note) and you have a wonderful photo of a duckling peering out from under his mom's protective feathers.

    From the MiRea's Realm Group, you are given a 5/7 ranking.
  • David Minton 9y

    Well, thanks for all of the comments, and I'll take it all in stride. I realize they were all meant well, and I appreciate the time you took to view and comment on my photo. Rather than respond to anyone in particular, I'll just rant in general.

    For those that hadn't considered it, this is essentially a macro photo. As I noted, the duckling is only a few hours old, so as you may have surmised, it is not much larger than a chicken egg. The point I am trying to make is, it is very very small, and I couldn't just set up a tripod and use a macro lens. I needed to keep my distance (about 5 feet) so I would not enrage the mother duck, not that the duckling would have stayed still for a long exposure. I also chose not to use a flash, as I didn’t want to upset the duck and duckling either.

    This left me shooting at a focal length of 150mm from about 5 feet. As you will also note from my exposure info, there was not much light in the underbrush (1/125 at f/5.6 @ ISO 100). I could have increased my ISO and gotten 2 more stops, but that would not have helped that much, and any more would have added considerable noise that would have ruined the image (in my opinion).

    As for getting both the mother and duckling in focus, I don’t think it could be done. I looked up the DOF I had to work with, and according to this nifty DOF Calculator I had about 1.25 inches. If I had shot at f/16, I would have had 3 inches, which still would not have been enough. Further, if the mother had been in focus, I don’t think the tiny duckling would be noticed.

    To me, it is fine if you don't like the image, but don't ignore the limitations under which it was taken, and hold that against me. I have about 250 shots of this duck, along with her ducklings, and will post more as I get time to edit and process them.

    So, how about “Wow, how did you manage to hand hold a 70-200 zoom at 1/125 and keep a tiny, moving object in focus while working with only 1.25 inches of DOF—that is amazing.”
  • MiRea 9y

    Ditching the highest and lowest score you get a total of 23.5 out of 35 in the MiRea's Realm Group.

    Looking forward to your next post!
  • Mazda Hewitt 9y

    Ha, next time you need to get yourself a little pocket point and shoot with a super zoom, they have such small sensors, you'll get practically infinite depth of field. After most of us don't give a toss how an image was made if you didn't pull it off.
  • David Minton 9y

    I just replaced the photo with a revised copy. After calibrating my display with a hard ware calibrator (Pantone Eye-One Display 2), it turns out I have been making my images too dark.

    I went back to my RAW file (I love non-destructive RAW editing), and adjusted the exposure by about 1/2 stop. I also soft proofed, as the images display differently in my web browser than they do in my image editor (I think this has to do with color space managed applications vs. non-managed ones).
  • Paul Cory 9y

    Based on my memories of the original, you're right - it was too dark. In this version, mom looks much less menacing.

    While I stand by my note about where I think the best photo is, this version is definitely superior to the original. Interesting how a half stop adjustment can make such a big difference.

    As for the props, technically the photo is excellent. The conditions you've described were certainly challenging, and you nailed focus and exposure pretty much perfectly.
  • Jodi 9y

    excellent capture! Glad they stayed still long enough for the shot!
2 faves
Taken on March 26, 2006
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 1/125
  • 100
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