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Behind The Lens: Wood Duck Reflections

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “Good things come to those who wait”, I would be a rich man. It’s a great statement if you’re not the one waiting! As a nature and wildlife photographer, sometimes all you can do is sit there and wait. This brings me to my very first Behind the Lens blog post and how the image above came to life.

After raining for two days, cabin fever set in. I decided to go to my favorite place to photograph ducks, White Rock Lake. When I arrived, I was in shock. There wasn’t a duck to be found, just a couple of American Coots. I was determined to wait and let great things come. After all, I was out of the house, I had my camera, and it was a great day to relax and get some images. With the wind blowing from the south, I decided to set up with a large tree to my right and some tall weeds to my left. When the ducks come in, they’ll be flying right at me and I should be able to get some in-flight and landing images. The first thirty minutes went by quickly. Even though I hadn’t seen a single duck, I wasn’t going to give up hope. So, I waited, and waited, and waited. After about three hours, I was getting bored and starting to think that the day was a bust. I decided to give it one more hour. Back to waiting! I was about to call it quits when out of nowhere, a Wood Duck drake flew in from over my right shoulder and landed behind a line of trees. Where did he come from? They never come from that direction. Alright, no biggie, all I need to do is wait for him to come out from behind the trees. So again, I waited. Of course, he was in no hurry to come out into the open. Finally, he began to work his way in my direction. Just a little further and he would be right where I wanted him! He was so close when he stopped, looked around, and turned back towards the trees. NO WAY! I noticed a small gap between some weeds and the trees. I was going to have to move and I didn’t have much time. I quickly took my camera off the tripod, jumped up, and ran around the tree. I needed to get low! Without even thinking about the wet ground, I laid down and got ready. As he floated slowly into the opening, the most amazing thing happened. A hole opened in the clouds and sunlight lit up the opening just as the elusive drake cruised in. As if on cue, he stopped. I had to look up from my camera and make sure this was happening. This beautiful drake stopped in the only opening I had to photograph him, AND the sun pops out at the same time. Unbelievable. I took a deep breath and pressed the shutter button. As soon as he heard me firing off shots, he quickly moved back behind the trees. As I watched him swim off, it dawned on me. I’m soaking wet and laying in the mud. I stood up and wiped the mud off my elbows, knees, and the bottom of my camera and lens. Somehow, I had managed to get mud all over me. I took a quick glimpse at the images on my viewfinder. I knew I had some keepers.

After I got home, I pulled the images up on my computer. I still can’t believe the pictures came out as good as they did. The image above, “Wood Duck Reflections”, has become one of my favorites. It’s a continuous reminder that I need to be more patient when I’m out in the field and that sometimes good things DO come to those that wait.

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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view


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