Northern Shovellers

Spent the afternoon trying to get comfortable with the weight of the Nikon 200-500 and hand holding. Had the tripod but forgot to change out the plate so that was a no go. I struggled with getting good focus most of the day. This is about a 50% crop , removing a few other subjects from the frame. I liked the look of this pair and their head positions.

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments are welcome and needed. Are the surrounding water reflections too much a bother?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 200-500 at 500mm / f13 @1/8000/ISO 4000.

Nice photo of the pair of shovellers. Nice poses and nice spacing of them. The color of the water looks off a bit to me. Birds look all right. Perhaps it is blue from the sky.
I am not sure why your camera was at these setting. SS could have been much less and then a corresponding reduction in ISO. A ss of 1/500 would be plenty to freeze this action and the corresponding ISO would have been in 200 to 400 range. Lower ISO would reduce the noise in the bg and improve the picture quality.
Nice job on the exposure.
I feel your pain about not having the tripod. I am lost without mine when using a big lense.

David gave a great critique. My comments would mirror his. My only other suggestion is that it looks like you need a bit of clockwise rotation.

Nice to see the pair, and in good poses. I never know if waves like this should always be horizontal, but that’s what it feels like here.

The water does go to a cyan cast in the UR, which doesn’t feel right. At any rate, I would consider cropping a bit from the top – centering the ducks vertically feels right to me.

It looks like you pretty much nailed the focus on this one Stephen. I don’t think I’d go all the way down to 1/500 hand holding unless I really had to, but you could certainly bring your iso down to 1000 and have plenty of shutter speed. The tone of the blue reflections doesn’t look quite right for sky to me, but our sky tends to be pretty pale most of the time.

Appreciate the input from everybody. Thank you for the advice on shutter speed and ISO @David_Leroy and @Dennis_Plank , I’ll keep practicing and should be able to improve in this technical area. And yes, @Lyle_Gruby after a few more looks it does appear t the ducks are swimming downhill thanks for the observation. Thank for your comments @Diane_Miller. I am not comfortable with the reflections and colors and I do like the image so I’ll have to see what the ripple reflection looked like original file in Raw.