The Magic of Mallards

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The Magic of the Mallards

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Barry W. Hollritt, 2004

 In New Jersey there is a lesser known river that bequeathed to me a scene that I allude to as

 “The Magic of the Mallards”. 

The Musconetcong River flows 44 miles through four New Jersey counties and eventually finds it’s way to join the mighty Delaware River in the town of Rieglesville.  The river passes through some of the most historic and agricultural areas of New Jersey and in some places seems as rural as some of the scenes I’ve photographed in the tranquil counties of England.  The common but quite beautiful mallard which is seen throughout the east coast of course has a presence on the Musconetcong as well.  I have photographed, like many people, the mallard duck for many reasons, one of which is the wonderful plumage on the male.  At times the color can be such a deep green that it seems the color was painted onto the bird.  As I was traveling through western New Jersey, I found myself wandering along the banks of the river in a long straight stretch of water in a place named Lebanon Township.  The sun was about to set and the color of the day was deep in it’s end of day  warmth.  For some reason I slowed down when I saw a group of mallards standing on the shoreline in the sun.  There were numerous pairs of birds in this one spot and I stopped to observe them.  During my pause in travel there was a moment that I preserved that is unique to any image of the mallard I have captured.  For one fleeting moment, as they were bathed in the late afternoon light, I managed a composition that seems to have the perfect synchronicity that I captured in my well known swan image “The Swans at Wroxton”.  In this one instant of the exposure, the male and female mallard seemed perfectly in synch with nature and the light.  It is as if the two birds are standing on one pair of legs and the two bodies are blended as one.  The light was magnificent and the moment immediately vanished as they moved in their separate directions.  When I pressed the shutter for this exposure, I felt that a worthy image might have been created.  When I printed it for the first time… I smiled.


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