Nature clicks #90 - Finally, a pair of Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks
Nikon D300s, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM

Everything in nature is early this year due to the extremely warm weather we have here in Iowa. Last year I reported my first encounter of a Wood duck on April 11. I had a very obstructed view but was very happy to see this pretty duck for the first time. Click HERE if you like to see the older images and what I had to say about them. Since this first meeting with the Wood Ducks I envisioned an image with both, male and female, and of course in great light. Today luck was on my side. I saw this pair of ducks in one of the canals at the Green Island Wetlands. It took some efforts to get this shot. Wood Ducks are extremely shy and like to hide in the shadow of the trees. However, the birds were actually in backlight and the background was way too bright for my taste. I thought this image was worth the extra work and I used my software mix of Adobe Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS4, and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 to eliminate all distracting lights and "shiny spots" in foreground and background. Why did I use NIK Color Efex Pro? Take it for granted, I don't touch the colors of the animals in my wildlife photography. Period. But NIK's CEP has a filter called "Darken / Lighten Center". This is one of my favorite filters, that allows to darken or lighten the borders or the center of an image. You can set the point of center and also its size. Isn't that the same like applying a vignette to the photo? Kinda, but I think it is much more subtle and can be placed right at your subject within an image. I just can't get the same results by applying a vignette either in LR or PS. The above photo needed a little more than just this filter. The background was dull and blown out. The application of a graduated filter in LR may keep your eye on these wonderful Wood Ducks…

I hope you enjoy. Have a great Sunday!