(No, not that kind of sentinel.)

I’m not sure why I even thought to take this photo in the first place, and I’m not really sure what to think of it overall, but I do kind of like it. I was literally just brushing my teeth one chilly morning a few weeks ago when I happened to notice my son’s rubber ducky sitting on the edge of the bathtub. The sun was not yet up and the light you’re seeing is coming from the closet behind me, and I thought everything came together to form a kind of cool scene. I imagined this little yellow plastic waterfowl standing on the edge of a precipice keeping watch so as to alert the rest of his unit of any incoming enemy forces. Despite what was clearly a long, dark, and cold night this fella stood at his post and remained vigilant through the small hours of the night and would remain until the sun rose high in the morning sky. No ill would befall his friends tonight. Not on his watch.

I shot this with my D750 because the light was so dim that I knew I would need a higher ISO, and a relatively clean one at that. Also, I just like using any opportunity to take pictures that camera :) I don’t know if there is enough context to give you a sense that this duck is sitting on the edge of a bathtub, and I hope you don’t mind a picture with my pajamas all wrinkled up in the foreground, but if nothing else this photo brings a bit of a smile to my face. It’s probably a bit conceited to say this is a good picture but I do think it works to illustrate how you can find compelling photo opportunities in everyday life even when things seem kind of dull and boring. Of course it never hurts to get some interesting lighting conditions such as the wee hours of the morning, late at night, or on a cloudy day. In fact, I would recommend this as a possible course of action if you are ever struggling to find ways of jumpstarting your own photography: get up a bit earlier or stay up a bit later and pay attention to how ordinary everyday objects give off a whole new impression with the different lighting conditions.

There’s also one final note about the picture I thought might be worth mentioning. I shot this at f/1.8, (ISO 6400, 1/90 second) which meant the depth of field was razor thin especially since I was using a full frame camera so close to my subject. I think that’s why the duck’s head is just a bit out of focus, and the next time I take a shot like this I’ll make sure to double check that everything is sharp before shutting things down and going on with my day. I’m kind of curious to return to this scene tomorrow and see if my kids have played with this duck, and imagine what other things he might have been doing in the meantime…


  1. Your “every day” photos enlighten the moment and my mind every time I open your weekly mail. Great inspiration, thanks Simon

    • Thank you Myrjam! That means a lot, and I’m so glad you enjoy these photos.

      I like the spelling of your name, by the way. It reminds me of when I lived in Minnesota and many people had j’s in their names due to Norwegian ancestry (Kjersten, Tija, etc.). I rarely encounter those spellings down here in Oklahoma :)

  2. This is great – not just the picture, but the story you dreamed up as well :-)

  3. I truly like your posts and how you come up with the ideas. This particular picture is a testament to your photography talent. You inspire me.

    • I appreciate you saying that, Camellia. It means a lot, and comments like yours inspire me to keep this ol’ blog running :)

  4. Simon —
    You never cease to amaze me on how you are able to “find” subjects for photographs in the most unlikely of places. Of course, your point is well taken that these opportunities surround us and are there if we only look for them! I appreciate your comments on the aperture and ISO that you used. You normally don’t post photos using this much wide of an aperture. The effect of the small area of sharpness when shooting close at this fstop is something I am glad you reminded us of.
    Again, thank you for doing posting this blog. Have a blessed day!

    • Thank you so much David! You know, sometimes I get a little antsy and start to think that there’s just nothing around me interesting enough to photograph. Usually that means I’m not looking hard enough!

  5. Commander Quackenbush reporting for duty, Sir! I will be vigilant and give a loud quack if I smell something fowl!!! And then when the bullets fly, I will loudly shout, “DUCK! DUCK! GOOSE!”

    • “Quackenbush, you’re a loose cannon! You’re out of line son! Get yourself over to my office now or I’m tossing you in the cooler for a week. Those weren’t bullets that were flying…it was little kids splashing in the tub!”

  6. Hello Simon, I love your analogy of the guitar. My goal this year is to pick up my DSLR every day and take a photo of something. Some days are a little more challenging than others. Maybe I need to find a cute little rubber duck ;)

    • That is a fantastic goal Yvonne, and even if you don’t think you are taking pictures of anything particularly interesting you will at least be using your camera and learning more about it. And that process in and of itself can be worth far more than just a few pictures :)

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