I spotted a quiet cove along the shoreline of the sizable lake in Newport News Park, and pulled into the nearby parking lot. I was planning on experimenting with different camera modes in order to produce clearer action photos of birdlife, hopefully ducks.
As I walked onto the wooden footbridge that strategically crosses the wetlands, all hell broke loose, in a good way! Like a squadron of fighter pilots, five mallard drakes came bombing their way into the cove, flaps up, quacking and squawking like crazy, readying themselves for a rough landing.
By the time I had my camera rolling the mallards had landed. It was then that I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Like a drill sergeant, the largest of the drakes took charge. As the Top Gun, he was quacking out orders and the squadron of flyboys started falling in line. I was clicking away as fast as I could. Worried about my aperture and my shutter speed and my ISO, I was praying that my photos would turn out.
The troops were obviously following orders. This painting, which I just completed, entitled Flyboys, represents the beginning of the tailgate party the mallards had that early morning in the quiet cove. They took over the place. Top Gun Sgt. Drake took the boys around as if they were all in uniform going ashore looking for hens. It was all quite the spectacle.
It was an amazingly magical moment for me with the dramatic reflections on the water, the action of rings around the leader, and the whitecap wakes produced by the mallards motoring quickly into formation. The party was just beginning and the emerald headed ducks were all quite pleased with themselves.
Fortunately, I caught it all on camera and I plan on painting several more canvases featuring this “band of brothers”. I hope their personalities come through in this painting and that you feel the energy of the moment!
As I packed up my camera and was walking back to the car, two military fighter jets buzzed overhead, as if to tip their wings to their fellow flyboys!
Dedication: On this Memorial Day, I dedicate this painting entitled Flyboys to all our men and women in uniform, past and present!