The Trumpeter Swan Society Photo-of-the-Month November 2010

Trumpeter Swan by John VanOrman

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

John’s photograph shows well balanced lighting between the light-colored snow and swan and the black bill and feet.  It is almost easier to photograph the swan on a white background as opposed to a medium or dark background given the issues surrounding contrast.  John was able to define feathers and snow patterns while still showing definition on both the right foot of the bird and the bill.  Superb lighting!

Histograms help analyze the lighting of a photograph and are helpful in assessing the light on a photograph. Check out this definition of a histogram.

A histogram is a graph counting the pixels at each level between black and white.  Black is on the left, while white is to the right.  The height of the graph at each point depends on the brightness of the pixels.  Lighter images move the graph to the right, while darker ones move it to the left.

While histograms are an analytical tool to help assess the lighting, the final decision on a photograph should be from the photographer’s visual perspective.

And with a light-colored subject and background John was able to shoot with an aperture setting that provided a great depth of field.  Look at primaries nine and ten (primary feathers are counted from the inside out to the end of the wing)) on both wings and you will see the same level of focus on both.  Given the crisp focus on the eye (which should just about always be the sharpest aspect of the photograph), and the definition on the primaries, John created a well balanced and lighted photograph of this Trumpeter Swan with out-stretched wings!

Featured Photographer for November, 2010 –  John VanOrman, Michigan

John B. VanOrman graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology and from Western Michigan University with a Master’s Degree in ecology. During his studies at Western he studied bird populations along the Lake Michigan shoreline. John has taught biology for 35 years.  John believes that photography can be a useful tool for developing a sense of stewardship in individuals.

We are pleased that John was willing to share this outstanding shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society. To see more of his photos, please visit web page at

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