NEW FEATURE ADDED TO PHOTO-OF-THE-MONTHSEE BELOW!!!
Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of-the-Month host Greg Smith says:
Mark’s image of the pair of Trumpeter Swans flying in front of the fall color shows a “planned” opportunity to share two very different subjects with the intent of highlighting the swans in the foreground.
Mark focused his camera on the swans, which was the planned highlight in the photo. Each bird is in detailed focus including the eyes, wings and feet.
When you look at the background of exceedingly bright-colored foliage, it is muted. This soft focus on the trees allows their color to come through and highlight the swans without the distraction of other objects stealing the focus.
The composition of the birds on the left side of the photo is a slightly different interpretation of the rule of thirds. It is usually more appealing to the viewer to have the subject in either the left or right third of the photograph as opposed to the center. In fact Mark’s swan’s heads are dead center in the photograph, which would appear to refute the rule. But it is body of the swans that makes the rule of thirds work. The head and neck of both birds are such a small component of the photograph, and this creates the effect with the bird’s bodies fitting the rule of thirds!
All of the above can happen with the focal length of the lens, but Mark saw the opportunity to put himself in a position to the have swans in the foreground and those trees in the background. And it worked with exceptional results!
The Life History Moment
Waterfowl (including swans), cormorants, cranes and some shorebirds (and there may be other long distance diurnal migrants) utilize flight technics that essentially minimize impacts to the individual and spread the physical outlay to the other(s) in the flight. With Mark’s pair of swans we do not see them flying side-by-side or one directly in front of the other. We see the second bird behind and to the side of the lead bird. This helps in two ways: First they are minimizing any potential accidental contact while flying (this would certainly help in trying to escape a predator!). And second, the lead bird is “cutting” a hole in the wall of the air they are flying through.
In other words, like automobile racing, the second car does not have to expend as much fuel as the lead car does to achieve the same speed. Of course they are built just a bit different than those cars, and it is because of the wings that they fly behind, but off to the side. When that lead birds tires a little, the second bird will head to the front and the lead bird than reduces the amount of energy it utilizes (aka taking a breather).
Featured Photographer for February, 2012 – Mark Paulson, State of Minnesota
“My current focus is on capturing perspectives of the natural world, concentrating on images of nature, wildlife and travel (the world). The experience of getting to and capturing the beauty of nature and the wildlife is a large part of my personal experience in photographing their imagery. Actually making the photograph to capture the scene, so it can be shared with others, is the other component I enjoy. I work to find the unique or different perspective when making photographs, giving the viewers a sense of the place that I experienced when making the images.”
Mark is a long time resident of the Lake Minnetonka area of Minnesota and has been taking photographs since the mid-1980s. Mark has taken several award-winning photographs and his work has been published in books and regional magazines and exhibited in local galleries. Mark has traveled extensively to numerous locations in the United States as well as many international destinations including: China, Egypt, Southern Africa, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Fiji, Greece, Argentina, Japan, throughout Western Europe, various islands in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, etc. and has an extensive portfolio of photographs from these locales.
You can find Mark’s images at
About the Photo:
From Mark: “This image of the Trumpeter Swan pair was taken at Baker Park in Minnesota, (location of TTSS headquarters). There is a small pond in the park where Trumpeter Swans gather. I try to get images of the swans in flight, and especially during autumn, when the surrounding trees provide a colorful background to highlight the white swans. “
We are pleased that Mark was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society.