Just when I thought I was about done with my photo walk, a group of bird watchers approached from the other direction.
I strolled along the eastern edge of the Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve trail, just soaking in the fall vibes. I did my usual "walk, stop, set-up, capture" routine, doing my best to capture the reds, yellows, and oranges that were, like a kaleidoscope, all in the mix.
Just when I thought I was about done, a group of bird watchers approached from the other direction. They seemed excited. I assumed that they'd spotted something interesting in the trees. I felt compelled to photograph them as they chatted in the grassy area near the lakehouse.
There's a certain asymmetry to the photograph. The bird watchers are standing off to the right with most of the colourful vegetation. The blue sky and the colourful leaves on the trees contrast with the drab grey lake and the green grass. But still, it feels "right".
I was anxious that I hadn't photographed fall in the area, so I decided to visit the Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve in Princeton Township to photograph the picturesque treeline at the lake.
I began my photography walk at the southern edge of the artificial lake. The early morning sun radiated a warm glow. It seemed the perfect day for capturing some fall colour. My focus was on the trees bordering the lake's edge. I set up my Fuji X-T3 on the tripod with the XF16-55mF2.8 R LM WR lens and a Hoya PROND1000 filter. I wanted long exposures with silky smooth water.
I strolled north along the eastern side of the James Sayen Trail (green markers) that loops around the lake, frequently stopping to take photographs. The snail would win if a landscape photographer and a snail were in a race. 🙂
Each step revealed a new perspective, a fresh angle, and an opportunity to freeze time in a frame.
I fine-tuned my photographs using Adobe Lightroom and Luminar AI to enhance the colours and highlight the details.
It was very early in the morning. With bleary eyes and brimming anticipation, I stood on the observation platform, clutching my XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR. I heard some noisy splashing in the far corner of the swamp. I didn’t know what was happening. Peering through the viewfinder, I zoomed to 600m, and voilà, there they were—ducks. But what kind? "Is this a mallard or a duck? Is there even a difference?" My knowledge of ducks was about as extensive as a duck's knowledge of cameras.
Fortunately, Merlin ID has a Photo ID feature and an excellent database of birds. Photo ID offered a short list of possible matches. With a few quick taps, I identified the bird as the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), not to be confused with its cartoonish cousin, Daffy. Unlike Daffy Duck, Wood Ducks have a crested heads, a thin neck, and a long, broad tail. Their silhouette shows a skinny neck, long body, thick tail, and short wings.
Unlike Daffy Duck, known for his dramatic flair, Wood Ducks possess crested heads, slender necks, and long, broad tails. Their silhouette might remind you of an elegant dinner guest—skinny neck, long body, and short wings—except for the thick tail.
You may not be able to see it from the photographs, but males have glossy green heads adorned with white stripes, chestnut breasts, and buffy sides. They'll look dark overall in low or harsh light with paler sides. On the other hand, the females sport a grey-brown dress with a white-speckled breast. Regrettably, no females for my camera that day.
With a fondness for wet locales with trees or extensive cattails, Wood Ducks thrive in wooded swamps like the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. They stick to wet areas with trees or extensive cattails. It's a lifestyle choice, really, one that sets them apart from their Looney Toon counterpart.