Vaughn Larsen of Littleton, Colorado, is the third-place winner of our 2020 Bird Portrait Contest with this stunning portrait of a drake Wood Duck that he took at Sterne Park in Littleton in October 2020.
“Sunrise light on the fall foliage reflects back onto the water of this small pond where the Wood Ducks are swimming,” he says. “I was lying on the ground as this male Wood Duck swam directly head on toward me through the yellow and gold reflection.”
Contributing Editor Laura Erickson says this about the photograph:
“Good photos of Wood Ducks are by their very nature beautiful, which makes great photos of Wood Ducks hard to come by. This photo goes even beyond great, capturing a perfect moment of head-on symmetry with one drop of water hovering at the tip of the bill. That makes the composition extraordinary, and even better, every shade of iridescence on the facial feathers glows in the perfect light, and every brilliant color of the plumage, bill, and eyes is captured perfectly, without over-saturating or using too much contrast. And as if all that wasn’t wonderful enough, the water shimmers with yellows that highlight the duck’s colors, making this photo about as perfect as it could possibly be.”
Vaughn used a Nikon Z6 camera with a 500mm f4 lens and a 1.4x teleconverter.
The photo was one of more than 700 that photographers entered in our contest. Yesterday, we featured it among the dozen finalists. Check the links below for the first- and second-place images as well as our finalists and honorable mentions.