Wood Duck Sanctuary

This was taken across a pond on a fairly dark day.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any feedback is appreciated. I’m often shooting wildlife from a distance and then need to crop in. I’m wondering if the crop here (and in situations like this in general) degrades too much from the picture quality. Someone once told me if you have to crop that much just scrap the picture. I also am often leery of over-saturating or overdoing it. Due to the dark conditions I used a high ISO - maybe too high. I tried to de-noise the best I could. Finally, is there enough of a story here? It is good to isolate your subject but does this detract from a potential story without more surrounding elements? Would love thoughts on these concerns and any other input. Thank you!

Technical Details

1/1000, f/6.3, ISO 2000 @ 600mm

I took the brightness down around the outer edges and toned down bright greens.


Looks great to me! A very pleasing composition in soft light. Always good to know what camera and what software (in this case for denoise). It’s wonderful how much we can push denoise and crops there days!

I think this is a great image, Marie! The Wood Duck is nice and sharp and the eye too. And the surrounding water and plants are soft and compliment the duck well. I love all the colors and also the slight reflection. I am curious about what’s being reflected in the background, like maybe you didn’t have to crop as much from the top. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cropping as long as your subject is sharp and composition is good, which both things are! Nice soothing scene.

Thank you very much. Sometimes you just need that reinforcement as a photographer! I appreciate it. Shot with a Sony AR7III and edited in LR.

Thanks so much for commenting Vanessa! I appreciate the feedback. The original, un-cropped version is attached. The background that I had cropped out was the land on the other side of the pond. The version shown here still has masking adjustments to brighten the duck and tone down its surroundings.

Hi Marie. I like what you did with this. Cropping all depends on how many pixels you have to play with, how sharp the original image is and what medium you’re using to present it. If your original is tack sharp you can crop all the way to the number of pixels you need for your presentation (and with modern enlargement software, perhaps even further). The Wood Duck still looks sharp in this one when I zoom in all the way, so the crop is fine.

You didn’t mention what camera you’re using, but almost all the more recent models (last 2-3 generations) will easily handle iso 2000. Modern noise reduction software is amazing and the cameras are much better at keeping it down themselves. In this image, I had to “pixel peep” to see any noise and no one actually views an image that way except on critique forums like this. You’ll see lots of images in this forum taken at much higher iso settings.

I look forward to seeing more of your work here.

I really like the triangular formation of the plants around the duck and some of that background for a more environmental shot. I was trying a crop with it myself, hope you don’t mind, what do you think of this? …

Thanks Dennis! Good food for thought on pixels and testing for sharpness in the image. The image was taken with a Sony A7RIII and edited in LR. I believe I used Topaz Denoise on it as well. Appreciate your comments!

I don’t mind you playing with it at all! Thank you. I like the sense of place the environmental crop provides and that you cut out all the dead space to the right of the duck. I’m not sure if I prefer my original close in crop better or not. The close in crop provides more details on the duck while the environmental crop provides more of the setting. A toss up for me!

Hi Marie
You have a nice looking Wood Duck, I would just lower the duck into the bottom 1/3 of frame or make it a 16 by 9. Happy hunting.

Hi Peter,

Here it is 16x9. This is nice compositionally. I like the suggestion. Thank you!


Hi Marie,
I think Dennis explained everything perfectly with regards to ISO, and cropping in on an image. I actually love the background of this image and think it adds to the image and story that could be told by including it. So, I guess it depends on the story you are trying to tell with your image. Do you simply want to show a close up of the bird and it’s plumage and is the bird doing something interesting that would necessitate a crop to see OR, do you want to show something special about the bird, in it’s environment, possibly doing something interesting that adds to a story. That’s all up to you but for me, I love all of those roots on the far shore and that the little pine sprigs growing out of the water could be coming from them. There is now a purpose and a place for those sprigs in the water. The cropped in version looks like a broken branch in the water with a duck investigating it. For me, it isn’t as interesting of a story. By the way, you have fine detail in the cropped version and your colors are just right. Not too saturated at all in fact you could probably go a little further if you wanted to.

Thanks David,

Upon converting to a 16x9 as Peter suggested I immediately see the image is now stronger. Perhaps my take away is the play more with cropping composition. I tend to gravitate toward getting in as close as possible to see the details, believing this will provide the most impact. It seems that going in to edit I should not be making assumptions of what will look best, but play with it more and experiment. Thanks so much for your well thought out response!

Nice job on the point of view; being so low at water level. Color and detail are excellent. Wood ducks are great subjects for colorful birds.

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Thank you! They are beautiful birds.