Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of-the-Month host Greg Smith says:
Danny’s advice for photographing wildlife is to get out before sunrise so that you are in a position to capture the image as the sun rises and the wildlife become active. In this photograph you can see the warm, early morning light reflected off of the swans feathers, as well as in the background.
The warmness of the bokeh (In photography, bokeh (Japanese pronunciation: [boke]) is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.) (Wikipedia, 2011) enhances the visual effect and sharpness of the swan.
In Danny’s description of his equipment, his use of the 500mm f.4 lens also helps with the bokeh. Long lenses usually have a shallow depth of field (when used beyond their minimum focus) which gives sharp focus to the subject (notice the water dripping from the bill and the distinct feather edges) while keeping the fore- and background out of focus
The placement of the swan in the photograph shows some of the out of focus foreground, which does not detract from the subject, but does “even out the balance of the subject in its habitat.
As with any wildlife photograph, the eye needs to be sharp to bring it to life. The fact that Danny has his tripod strapped down minimizes the need to balance paddling and holding the equipment. It also ensures a sturdy base, which creates a better opportunity for a crisp image.
Danny shows his knowledge of the subject, the timing and the capabilities of his camera to create an outstanding photograph!
Featured Photographer for April, 2011 – Danny Brown, Missouri
Danny Brown is a lifelong Missourian who grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. After receiving a Master’s in Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Missouri, Danny started working as a Fisheries Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, a position he has held for over twenty years. During his spare time, Danny can be found traipsing through the woods and prairies or plying Ozark streams and large rivers looking for natural images to capture with his digital camera
Danny’s photos have been published in Missouri Conservation, Colorado Outdoors, National Wildlife Magazine, Outdoor Illinois Magazine, Big River Magazine, Missouri Natural Events Calendar and the Ducks Unlimited Calendar. In 2010, Danny was a semi-finalist in the Nature’s Best Photography Wildland Smith Rice International Awards. Most recently, Danny’s image of a trio of Pileated Woodpecker nestlings was published in the newly released National Geographic’s Backyard Guide to Birds of North America.
More of Danny’s work can be seen at www.dannybrownphotography.com and if you would like to receive his weekly newsletter, “Nature Frames”, give him a call at (636)584-9575 and he will add you to the list serve. Prints are available for purchase by calling the same phone number.
From Danny: Regarding the trumpeter swan image, it was shot from my camouflage kayak on Heron Pond at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, West Alton, Missouri, last fall. I was working under a special use permit from the area manager to obtain photos for Corps of Engineers and Audubon displays and brochures. The attached images were made in the first light of morning and the color has not been altered in any way, a question that I often get about these images. I always tell people to get out before daylight on any marsh or prairie and wait for the sun to come up; they will see nature’s magic first hand!
My wildlife images are made with a Canon 1D Mark IV and Canon 500/4 L IS lens mounted on a Gitzo G LS Carbon Fiber Tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal Head. I uses the same rig, even when shooting from my kayak; everything is strapped down to my lap.
We are pleased that Danny was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society.