Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a thing for ducks. I remember being about four and wanting to pet some ducks at Old Tucson. My dad told me not to pursue the ducks because they would bite me. My pre-school self quickly succumbed to temptation, and I tried to pet a duck anyway. It promptly bit me on the palm of my outstretched hand. I remember how much it hurt and that I couldn’t cry because then I’d make it easy for my Dad to see that I disobeyed him. (I’m sure he knew right away that I’d disobeyed him, and that was probably the first of the life lessons I learned under the decision/consequence parenting style he and my mother perfected over the years.)
Despite that initial encounter with a feathered friend, I still love ducks. Some twenty years later, while visiting my parents as a college student on spring break, my Dad and I took a stroll around the Jefferson Memorial. The cherry blossoms were blooming earlier than usual and it was a gorgeous day. As we walked and talked, a line of baby ducks paddled by, following their mom in the water near the memorial. My dad and I remembered the duck at Old Tuscon and laughed at the memory and marveled at how much things had changed since I was a little girl.
This year, with my camera ever at the ready, I have been on a mission to capture a great photo of a matched set of mallard ducks. I am almost always able to find a male and female pair of mallards in each trip to Lake Lenexa. But after so many opportunities and still not managing to snag the photo, I’m starting to feel as obsessed as Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.
Here’s my photographic journey. So far…
Duck Photo #1. A beautiful neighborhood near the Trader Joe’s has a pond that is always home to water bird activity. I saw this pair hanging out on the banks of the pond, but when I tried to get close they dove into the water and swam off. All I managed to snag was this very mediocre shot and several of their back ends as they high tailed it away from me.
Duck Photo #2. On the day my walk around Lake Lenexa was one missed opportunity after another, this pair swam right under me standing on a bridge while I was focused on an average-looking frog. By the time I realized they were there, they were already heading away from me.
Duck Photo #3. While running a quick errand to the nursery right up the street, I spotted this pair in, not a pond, but a large pool of water standing in a farmer’s field. “Ducks!” I pointed and yelled while pulling the car to the side of a country road. “Do you have a camera with you?” my friend asked. “Do I have a camera?!?” I scoffed, digging it out of my purse, and quickly but quietly making my way over to the temporary pond. The sun was in a bad spot, and my options were limited. While this is still a mediocre shot, I love the way the ducks are looking at me. It’s almost like they, too, think I’m a bit batty.
Duck Photo #4. Back at Lake Lenexa, I spotted this pair while finishing my walk around the lake. I couldn’t get as close as I wanted from the trail, so I braved a “wild” area with tall, scratchy grass to get closer to the water. For once the ducks didn’t rush off, but they did take turns alternating between diving into the water for food and watching for the likes of me. I must have snapped 100 photos, and I couldn’t for the life of me get both ducks’ heads out of the water at the same time. I like this shot because she is slowly enjoying her dinner while he has a protective eye on me. His expression tells me he is serious. “Remember that bite one of my comrades gave you when you were a kid? Take one more step, lady, and I’ll make that bite seem like a butterfly’s kiss.”
Duck Photo #5. On yet another walk at Lake Lenexa, I caught this pair swimming together. This shot is nowhere near as amazing as some of the photos I’ve seen on the blogs and 365 project sites I’ve been following this year, but it’s forward progress. I will keep trying.
What do you think? Do any of these have merit?
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