I’ve spent much of this year trying to find new appreciation for the ordinary. It’s been the only way to stay safely productive. And while I certainly miss new experiences and exotic locations, trying to see things I know well with a more creative eye has been a wonderful experience of its own.
It’s easy to take mallard ducks for granted. There are more than 11 million in the U.S. When you were young, if your parents took you to a pond to feed them, that may have been the last time they seemed magical.
The other morning I was out at a pond looking for something — anything — to photograph. I noticed a few mallards swimming in the golden fog. The water was sparkling. There was dew on the plants bordering the pond. Each individual element may be ordinary, but together they helped me find wonder in them again.
The bright circles, by the way, are the result of the way that out-of-focus highlights appear to the camera. This image was captured with a powerful telephoto lens: the equivalent of 1,200mm. This amount of manification, though, results in minimal depth. It's very sharp where you focus, but things even a few inches in front or behind that point rapidly start to blur.
There was a plant in the foreground that was covered in dew. The plant is out of focus and largely invisible because its dark. But the bright dew drops, however, still show up, although as giant out-of-focus circles. I deliberately aligned the plant with the ducks to take advantage of that effect.