Friday, January 13, 2012

Barnegat Harlequin Ducks

Barnegat is a location that I have wanted to visit for a long time. Barnegat has been recommended to me by some of my friends as it's known for attracting some of the most attractive waterfowl around; harlequin ducks. Plus the great ability to photograph them up close. They hang out along the breaker and at high tide you can have a very good shot at photographing them. I even saw a gray seal that was out having fun among the schools of fish.
When walking the area please look down and watch your footing along the rocks. it is dangerous and people DO get hurt there when not being careful.

Now this isn't the harlequins I mentioned before. I am not sharing just yet. This is a common loon. A beautiful species that I couldn't pass up. It dives often so I had to move when it dove to try and keep up without scaring it. I spent a long time waiting to get this close. I decided to move on as soon as I felt the situation was as good as it was gonna get and of course when I turn around the SOB has a crab in his mouth! Ain't it the way it always happens, haha.

Ah the pies de resistance. Coming upon a harlequin duck with this smooth backdrop and a slash of green was a huge opportunity. I must have sat with him for 30min. Shooting in bursts watching carefully to capture key moments like the one seen above (opening his mouth.)

For those who kept reading here are two tips for you when you are shooting in the sun or a subject with white decoration/plumage. To start it is important to understand that the LCD is in NO WAY a good or accurate indication of the image you are taking. These images with the harlequin you would see no green at all and mostly the white was all that was showing in the sun. The screen washed out. I relied on the histogram to give me an idea of tones (not an actual representation of color) to understand the shift towards dark or light. 
The next tool I used is termed 'blinkies' or can be found as a feature called "highlights." It blinks on the locations of the image wherever information is lost. You can see this in the screen shot above with the blue for lost shadows and red for lost highlights (simple white flashing on and off in camera.) What we have to keep in mind is what is our subject and what detail is important. We all chase this bell curve histogram, but if you look at my harlequin images they all share these clippings of highlights and shadows, would you know? or better yet do you care? As long as YOU are telling YOUR STORY, that is what matters.

A treat to capture him in motion. It was brought up by some fellow photographers around me that he was injured. I have to be honest it sure didn't seem like it. He exhibited movements like these showing his abilities. However his leg may have been injured. It is important to remember in these situations that we should not press our subjects. If they are urked back off! It may seem blunt, but if you were hurt would you want someone in your face, especially if your life depended on it? There is also the evolutionary argument of not allowing artificial selection, but I digress.

The posse.

A harlequin decides he doesn't like me at the waters edge.

P.S. if you go don't bother with a tripod if you are only gonna walk the rocks. It's a pain. I went with a monopod and was more then happy with my results.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Jarred -- these are fantastic! Harlequins are a species I have yet to see in person, but I'd love the chance to photograph them like this.


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