Suburban Landscape Photography Starring Canadian Geese and Ducks

Rob Paine Geese Stafford

After moving to Northern Virginia as a little boy, I remember visiting a local park and seeing Canadian geese. A park naturalist pointed to one of the geese and told me, “that is a Canadian goose, it flies down from Canada every year to dodge the cold weather up north and enjoy the warm weather in Virginia.” The insinuation was it was special to see these birds and eventually they would fly back to Canada. (please see second photo and more text below)

Over the years the geese apparently stopped buying return tickets. They like it here in Virginia and they seem to rarely return to their native land. It might be the weather that draws them but it is more likely the abundance of ponds and lakes built into golf courses, shopping and residential developments in Northern Virginia over the past 40 years that keeps them in place. They populate the region in great numbers. They are everywhere. One of our biggest shopping malls has geese crossing signs throughout road that surrounds it.

While it would be easy to discount the creatures because they are so commonplace, they are beautiful birds and they sure can spruce up your landscape photography.

Thursday morning I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderful property in Stafford, Virginia. A giant pond is the landscaping centerpiece of this complex and I was photographing one of its apartment buildings reflected in the lake when these two Canadian geese sauntered by.

The photo (above) has a monochromatic feel to it but the the little dash’s of color add extra interest. But best of all, the coloring of the geese seem to mesh well with the buildings reflections in the lake. This property is also home to ducks which were kind enough to glide by my camera for the shot below.

web lake duck

Photo Tip: When photographing any type of landscape or architectural scene it is always a good goal to introduce a human or wildlife element. It gives the scene some soul and creates perspective for the viewer. Also, if you do include a moving creature, it is a good compositional idea to have the bird or human closer to the left hand side of the frame than the right, so the object is entering the scene, not about to leave it.

Thanks so much for dropping by my blog today!


  1. It seems like they are everywhere. Ottawa is full of them too, especially now when they are migrating south. I agree with John. They are beautiful and impressive in the air but on the ground not so much! But I love to capture them in my photos too. Great tip Rob.


  2. Indeed they are beautiful birds. But – the down side of them is the poo they leave in copious quantities and the very aggressive behaviour they display when the goslings hatch. Having grown up on a lake in Michigan, I experienced this frequently. The birds stayed at the lake year round. I like seeing them in the air, and the sound they make as the air flows around their body as they pass over. To watch them land on the water is to see how aircraft land, beautiful sight.


Please feel free to leave a reply. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful feedback, Rob

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