The Trumpeter Swan Society Photo-of-the-Month – September 2010

Trumpeter Swans in the Mist, by Bernd Ruttkowski

Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of-the-Month host Greg Smith says:

Bernd’s photo of the three swans taking flight from a mist-covered river takes advantage of conditions not commonly found in the wild.  The crisp focus on the birds is in stark contrast to the diffused focus of everything else in the photo, thereby making the birds pop.

Bernd’s use of backlighting enhanced the illumination and detail of the swan’s flight feathers while silhouetting  the head and neck.  An otherwise all white bird now shows detail in sunlit feathers as well as shadowed feathers.

A photograph with three subjects always seems to have a sense of balance that can’t be found with other combinations of individuals.  Although the focal point of the photo are the two swans in the foreground, the third swan in the background softly balances the entire photograph.  And as it should be, the birds are on the left moving to the right and out of the picture.

The crisp focus, perfect exposure and composition combined with the river mist make this an outstanding photograph from a technical and an artistic perspective.

The three Trumpeter Swans were photographed at Monticello, Minnesota where the outside temperature was around -15C (5 F).   The cold temperature is important, as this location is adjacent to a nuclear power plant that discharges cooling water (which is warmer than the ambient water temperature) into the Mississippi River.  With the water temperature being warmer than the air, a light fog or mist  is created which on bright, sunlight days created the effect of swans in the mist.

Featured Photographer for September, 2010 –  Bernd Ruttkowski, Spring Park, Minnesota

I live and work in Minnesota and developed my passion for photography in the early 80’s with a Canon A1. Mainly photographing in black & white, I captured nature and urban themes, developing the photos in my own dark room. Now with the switch-over to digital printers and Photoshop having replaced the darkroom, my portfolio now ranges from nature and urban via people and portraits to stills and architecture.

We are pleased that Bernd was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society. Find more his images on his website at


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