It is dog show weekend and that can only mean one thing.. that’s right, plenty of time to type out a post which, by the way, completes my monthly quota. February is always a tough month due to being ripped out of two full days. But enough whining, I know you want to get onto the post. Today we bring out the big guns. The first set of the Mute Swan series (link here) brought you the pictures of Swan cygnets which are umber cute in my book. Unfortunately, there was room for improvement on the execution of those shots for a number of reasons including distance and light topped off by I just failing to hit my marks. Figured the cuteness factor would help compensate for the softness and the hard light in the later shots. Truth is I put those in the first set because I had a much better offering and wanted to build on the excitement. Going right for the jelly always dampens the experience of that tasty Mel-O-Cream Bismark doughnut. Yum, but I digress. Leading with my favorite and soon to be uploaded Gallery shot on the newly redesigned EddieSoft Photography site (link here):
The reduced size takes a little away from the eye. Normally shots from the back do not work that well, but the fact he (also referred to as a Cob) was looking back at me with that smirky don’t even try to sneak up on me look provided a nice composition. As with all the Mute Swan shots in this series, these were taken at Banner Marsh in Banner IL. Thanks to our friends over at Wikipedia learned that this pose is known as busking and as suspected in this particular setting a display of threat. No fear dude, just hanging out here on the banks of the marsh snapping a few shots… now my wife over there .. yeah, the one over there with that long stick trying to smack the Canada Goose she sees.. well she is dangerous – just ask the Geese that crossed her path on the golf course – the horror, the horror (just kidding, Linda was behaving herself .. or was she?)
Hit the jump to read the rest the Mute Swan series post
I will admit that a few of these took a little extra time in the digital darkroom. These birds are brilliant white and it takes some work to get the definition popped back into the feathers thanks to the range of contrast. It still surprises me every time I hear that someone I know is still shooting just in JPEG. Seems foolish beyond the need to shoot a faster series of pictures – why diminish your darkroom creativity. These birds also reach deep into the murk to feed which causes their neck feathering to be dirty. This is the common look in marshes so went ahead and kept that characteristic in these shots.
Now, doesn’t the rear shot of the upraised wings look more appealing than the more traditional side shot above. Granted the front on shot would have been optimal, but short of me getting wet that wasn’t going to happen. Not that it didn’t cross my mind, but whenever I start that trek into the water my UB reminds me she is my “voice of reason” and shames me back onto the bank. Oddly enough that is never followed by “let me go in for you” which you would expect would be the natural response from your UB – sounds like a good dinner topic. The next shot is my second favorite of the set.
This particular image was cropped for this blog and needs to reworked to fit our standard Gallery format (11×14) – you are seeing an advance viewing! Normally American Coots are more of a distraction that an asset (link here) but in this rare case they help add to the overall composition. You can also tell just how big these Mute Swans are. Adults average in the neighborhood of 60 inches long, 85 inch wingspan and 25 pounds. This puts them in the second largest category of waterfowl after the Trumpeter Swan which we’ve had the pleasure of photographing out in Yellowstone (link here). The next shot could have used just a bit more tilt on the Swan head to give a better view to the eye. It still works in my opinion with the balance of the stumps to help drive the visual to the bird .. just needed a bit more turn to really give it the wow factor.
The next shot I struggled a bit within the digital darkroom. The overall composition if fine – if you haven’t noticed by now in the body of work on this blog, one of my preferred composition principles involves sub framing the subject with other natural objects – in the case of the one before and after, this would be the fallen wood in the marsh. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but having a strategy in the field helps in the crucial composition decision process
Oh, on the struggle part – it is more noticeable in the full sized shot, but there are water drops coming off the bill and you can see their impact on the water below. They are sharp and tell the viewer it was just up from a feeding dive. I went back and forth on whether they distracted or not – eventually deciding to go with the scene as experienced at the time the shot was taken. If nothing else it shows that this particular cob finds my body of work worth spitting on (hehehe).
That brings us to a close on the Mute Swan. Hopefully the full gallery shots will be prepped and uploaded to the EddieSoft Photography site soon.. don’t tell anyone you got to see a sneak peek, our exclusive membership customers might get upset