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#11329586 - 01/07/16 03:02 PM Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots
Blue Moon Offline
Angler

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 473
Buffleheads are North America’s smallest diving duck; similar in size to a Green-winged Teal. The ancients called Buffleheads Spirit Ducks for their mystical ability to disappear just as you pull the trigger. Besides diving, they launch into flight with fewer steps compared to other divers.



From a photography standpoint, size, speed and ultrafast wingbeats make the Bufflehead one of the most challenging ducks to capture in flight. While I shoot with both a Canon and Benelli, I know firsthand that all ducks are significantly easier to shoot with my Benelli. On the other hand, just about any flight shots of Buffleheads are trophies for wildlife photographers. Female Buffleheads are smaller and darker with less white war paint on their cheeks compared to drakes.



If hunters or photographers are looking up, they often miss approaching Bufflehead. These tiny ducks tend to fly in low, right on the deck low, and wicked fast. The inbound drakes have fat white bellies. They remind me of playing baseball and look like low fast balls hurling toward the plate.

Drakes appear white and black in overcast or indirect light conditions but close-up shots captured in direct light reveal the drakes’ iridescent purple and green forehead and throat feathers. These shots were captured in January 2016, along the Central Flyway in North Texas.


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Over the Christmas holiday, on a dark, overcast day in Oklahoma, I managed a few Canvasback shots.



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As the most common duck in North America, I tend to shoot a lot of drake mallard landing shots. Just like hunting, the trick to getting a good shot is to understand the role the wind and sun play on the outcome. Besides setting up for great light, my goal is to capture wing motion but I also want sharp bills and eyes. After thousands of mallard shots, having a goal in mind keeps the thrill in the chase. Drake Mallard landing in twilight; Central Flyway, Christmas holidays 2015.


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I’m not a fan of overly processed images with unnatural, oversaturated colors. On the other hand sometimes the sunrise is dreamlike when the first rays of light chase the night away. This was the 2015 winter solstice sunrise over secluded water a few weeks ago.



Blue Moon

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#11329664 - 01/07/16 03:23 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
banker-always fishing Online   content
TFF Guru

Registered: 07/12/10
Posts: 37144
Loc: Universal City Tx.
coolphotos Awesome post. Thanks for sharing. cheers
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IGFA World Record Rio Grande Cichlid. Lake Dunlap.

John 3:16


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#11329666 - 01/07/16 03:23 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
Flippin-Out Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/25/15
Posts: 1564
Loc: Magnolia, TX
Beautiful shots! I have a 40D and a couple of redline lenses but none are big telephoto. The drake mallard looks almost like you got him to flare into a filtered remote fill-flash to illuminate his breast so nicely! (Wouldn't that level of cooperation be a feat? roflmao )

What lense were you using for the in-flight shots such as the mallard?

Have you ever seen the NOVA episode about training geese to fly formation for photography?

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#11333151 - 01/09/16 02:38 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Flippin-Out]
Blue Moon Offline
Angler

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 473
Originally Posted By: Flippin-Out
Beautiful shots! I have a 40D and a couple of redline lenses but none are big telephoto. The drake mallard looks almost like you got him to flare into a filtered remote fill-flash to illuminate his breast so nicely! (Wouldn't that level of cooperation be a feat? roflmao )

What lense were you using for the in-flight shots such as the mallard?

Have you ever seen the NOVA episode about training geese to fly formation for photography?

Many thanks for the kind words, they’re always appreciated. Flippin-Out, regarding your 40D, it’s still good body. It shines for wildlife especially with a 100-400L or 400 f/5.6L attached or any combo that lets you reach out to at least 300mm. Before the 40D came out, I shot with a 30D for a few years when I was transitioning from film and really honed my bird in flight skills using just a 70-200 f/2.8L plus extender before I added the 100-400L and 400 f/5.6L to my quiver. These days you can find great deals on preowned 400 f/5.6L and the original 100-400L since Canon released the new version of the 100-400L.

Regarding the lighting on the mallard shot, it was captured in natural light in the final moments of available light as the sun was just about to set. For waterfowl I’m normally shooting with a Canon 1D Mk IV and 500 f/4L when I can set up with a tripod or I’ll use the 100-400L if I’m handholding when shooting from a kayak or pit blind.

Regarding NOVA, I’m not sure if I saw that specific show but I’m familiar with Operation Migration, the group that teaches geese and Whoopers to migrate using ultralight aircraft. On a similar note, for a number of years I was fortunate to have a stick and rudder, high wing bush plane that was approved for solo photography. It had external camera mounts and I could operate the shutters from switches on the stick. This was a decade before GoPro was available. I have fond memories of flying up and down the North American Flyways capturing images of waterfowl roosts and wetland habitat. It was a fun time as it combined my passion for flying, photography, and waterfowling while exploring remote regions of North America.

Blue Moon

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#11333224 - 01/09/16 07:16 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
Luke57 Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1336
Loc: Aledo Tx
Nice pics
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#11333295 - 01/09/16 07:59 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
Flippin-Out Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/25/15
Posts: 1564
Loc: Magnolia, TX
Blue Moon,

Thanks for the info. Interesting you mention your history with a bush plane. I soloed in 1978 and was checked out in 17 different aircraft along the way if I remember correctly - I'd have to review my logbook to confirm. The most interesting was a 1930's Luscombe that my initial flight instructor had found in a barn and restored. (He also had an A&P certification.) I enjoyed making numerous trips to various Bahamas out-islands when I lived in south Florida. NOVA has dropped a lot of episodes from the video vault now; unfortunately the documentary on Operation Migration is no longer available. I figured the mallard's breast was illuminated by late light that's more highly filtered, with the joke about a flash just for fun.

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#11333439 - 01/09/16 09:14 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
FiShYBoY Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 608
Loc: Clarksville TX.
Those Sir are all great photo's!!! flehan

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#11333442 - 01/09/16 09:15 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
tosavaN Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 07/31/14
Posts: 47
cheers

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#11334562 - 01/09/16 06:09 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
bush hog Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 1854
Loc: Beckville, TX
WOW...don't know what else to say but WOW!

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#11337545 - 01/10/16 10:24 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
river-rat Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 10339
Loc: Centex
Very cool
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"I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways it won't work". Thomas Edison

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#11337569 - 01/10/16 10:35 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
kodys'papa Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 17304
Loc: Tawakoni/Conejos County
Hey! moon is back and shooting better than ever..
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Hooking a fish is like playing string with a cat. The exact size, shape, color of string matters less than how you wiggle it- and little cats are easier to fool than big ones. John Gierach

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#11342795 - 01/13/16 07:36 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
TexasBassBuster Offline
Angler

Registered: 02/15/11
Posts: 403
Loc: Grand Prairie, TX
very nice photos. Still lacking the canvasback mount on my wall. good looking ducks.
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#11345230 - 01/14/16 07:56 AM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
Gitter Done Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 8695
Loc: San Antonio Tx.
Very nice! Thanks for sharing.

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#11350331 - 01/16/16 02:50 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
crowsie14 Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 06/29/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Central Texas
thumb
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Don't Insult the Alligator till after you cross the river.

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#11356072 - 01/19/16 12:44 PM Re: Blue Moon's Bufflehead and Canvasback Shots [Re: Blue Moon]
patriot07 Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 16815
Loc: chateau d'if
Really nice photos!
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Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
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