Congratulations to Teri Franzen, whose image “Courtship On The Pond” is the winner of the Shooting A Concept Assignment!
“Wood ducks in upstate New York are notoriously difficult to approach,” explained Franzen. “Actually, impossible to get near. But in the autumn of 2014, just before they left for the winter, I had moderate success in finding ways to observe them using camouflage cloth at Brick Pond in Owego, NY. During the winter months I invested a variety of camouflage items, all very portable because I’d have to carry everything in and back out again for every visit. And I studied up on their behaviors. I scoured the Internet and read all the books I could find about wood ducks. And I anxiously awaited their return. Finally, in April the lakes and ponds started to thaw. And I heard reports of local wood duck sightings. At every opportunity I trudged through deep brush to set up my blind in a very remote section of the pond. One of the behaviors I had hoped to see was courtship grooming. The drake will groom the hen as a show of affection to enhance the pair pond. Several visits to the pond and I had only seen minimal interaction between the pairs. On April 19, I took an unplanned trip out to the pond as one more try. And I watched and waited. At about 2 p.m. I heard something I never hear at my remote corner of the pond, voices. I looked out to the water to see two canoers working their way through the pond. And all ducks flushed. At that point I thought all was lost. It would take forever for them to return. But I waited and waited. Finally, at about 4:15 they started to return. And 15 minute later I had this magical moment, right in center stage. I snapped away and was nearly in tears at the beauty of this scene.”
Equipment: Canon 7D Mark II, 500mm IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, Gitzo tripod