Snowless February

Today I, with my friend Nigel, head out to Humber Bay park in search of…you guessed it…ducks. Beause what else are you going to find in the middle of February when there is no snow?



Going later in the day (which isn’t thalate this time of year) gave us this beautiful golden light that reflected off our subjects. There were lots of mallards, but then again, when aren’t there lots of mallards? As we explored the park we came across something unusual none of the mallard groups – a white mallard. 

White Duck

White Duck

It’s not an albino. Its eyes, beak and feet are the same as the other mallards. Plus those other mallards seemed to have no issue with this weirdly coloured duck in their midst. So what’s up with its white feathers? Is it a spirit mallard, like the spirit bears from BC? I’m so curious to find out more.

I found out that it isn’t that uncommon for a mallard to be white due to Leucism. Leucism is the partial loss of pigmentation that can result in white, patchy or pale pigments. We see this in nature more than we realize – a white tiger, a white snake and, of course, the well known spirit bears from the west coast. 

So, essentially our white duck is a mallard in all respects except its white colouring. 



There was one other common bird hanging around – the swan. You have to watch out for swans. They can be one mean bird if they don’t like you and yet there they are paddling away, looking all graceful and stuff. I see you swan, being all handsome and unassuming, trying to pretend you’re not coming up with some evil plan to take over the world. lol 

As always it was a great evening out exploring the park and getting some unexpected photos and some fun close-ups. 

Ducks of All Sorts

I’m off to Colonel Sam Smith Park with my friend Nigel. It’s the middle of January and we are hoping to find something to photograph. We’re anticipating seeing some ducks and lo and behold we find – ducks.

Gadwell Playing in the Waves

Gadwall Playing in the Waves

This Gadwall duck is playing in the waves at the shoreline before swimming as far from us as possible. I guess our long lenses are intimidating. Interesting fact about the Gadwall is that they often snatch food from diving ducks as they surface. They’re the pirates of the lake. 

Rocky Shoreline

Rocky Shoreline

I notice that the ducks seem to congregate along the shoreline. I guess the shallows are warmer. Do ducks even feel the cold? I wonder sometimes as I’ve seen them stand on ice for long periods and they seem to enjoy just barely unfrozen water all winter. How? And can you give that superpower to me?

Male Long Tail Duck

Male Long Tail Duck

This long-tailed duck is one of many enjoying a paddle around the shoreline. He has an impressive tail which I assume is for mating purposes but what’s interesting to note is his plumage during winter The males have two mirror-image plumages: in summer mostly black with a white face patch; in winter mostly white with rich brown, black, and gray on the face. I’ve only ever seen the winter plumage as they are from the high arctic and they are there for the summer and my travels don’t take me that far.

After our fill of the ducks we head home to warm up and plan our next outing.

Clearing Skies

I was on my way to the Toronto Islands for an event at work when I noticed the following scene in front of me. 

Clearing Skies

Clearing Skies

Stormy looking days are alway epic in Toronto. I was lucky enough to catch this because soon after the clouds moved out and blue skies were the only thing to see for the rest of the day.

A Study in Long Exposure

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve gone out to photograph and today with the sky overcast I thought it would be a good time to head back to 50 Point Pier for some moody photos. I brought along my 10x ND filter to get my experiment on.

ND or neutral density filters are like sunglasses for your camera. The filter can be either screwed on to the front of your lens or it can slide in front of your lens with the help of a filter holder (sold separate from the filter, lens or camera). When placed on the lens it reduces the amount of light getting in to your camera’s sensor. 

Pier without the ND filter

Pier without the ND filter. Shutter speed 1/6th of a second

 There are different densities of filters. Some are only slightly tinted while others are more tinted. The different levels of tints allow you to shoot slower shutter speeds or open your aperture depending on what you are looking to accomplish with your photos.

Why would you want a longer shutter speed? When allowing your shutter to be open longer anything moving in your scene will essentially smooth out as shown in the photograph below.

50 point pier with 10x ND Filter. Shutter speed 87 seconds

You’ll notice in the photo above that the colours are very different from the photo at the very beginning of this post. ND filters are supposed to be a neutral grey colour, however, they usually tend to have a little colour in them. This colour becomes more prominent when shooting a long exposure. You will notice the one I use shifts the colour toward a more purple shade. This is because there is a little purple in the grey tone of my filter. 

50 point pier in Black and White. Shutter speed 15 seconds

One way to get rid of this colour shift is to create beautiful black and white images. Of course, if you are shooting in RAW you will be able to adjust the colour in your post processing to create the look you want.

Photography is all about experimenting and having a little fun. Most people don’t usually have a 10x ND filter but have one of the more common ones like a 3x or 6x. You are the artist so you decide which one works best for you.

Happy Experimenting!