Archive for October, 2011

The Trumpeter Swan Society October 2011 Photograph of the Month

October 10, 2011

Trumpeter Swans at Sunset by Stu Davidson

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

Stu’s image of the two Trumpeter Swans in flight with the sunset-tinged snow on Mt. Baker in the background shows how a very effective use of the camera’s ISO (the international standard measurement of sensitivity at which your camera’s sensor reacts to light when the shutter is open) can enhance the lighting on a photograph.  The position of the swans in the photograph also gives a feel for some of the hardships these birds face in the wild!

As Stu mentions below, the light was fading fast in the last few minutes prior to the sun slipping below the horizon for the day.  We all know this light as the “sweet” light, but there are challenges photographing your subject in these low light situations, especially if you want some detail.

Stu’s knowledge of ISO allowed him to adjust his camera’s sensor to accept more light, thereby creating a more realistic lighting of the birds.  If shot at the “usual” 100 ISO (my standard ISO setting is 200), your camera would probably take the photo at 1/15 second, thereby creating a blurred, or out-of-focus photograph.  Bumping the ISO up to 2000 allowed Stu to increase his camera’s sensitivity to light and have a sharper image.  (One thing to remember about bumping up the ISO, the higher the ISO, the granier the pixels can look on most cameras – more on that in future articles).

Stu was already aware of the lighting on Mt. Baker, which allowed him to concentrate on positioning the swans.  Stu used the darkened ridge in the foreground and the two trees silhouetted in the sky to create a frame for the birds.  The trees and the ridge effectively bring the viewer’s eye right to the swans in front of Mt. Baker!

Even without Stu’s comments about time of year, we know these birds are surviving in a winter (the deciduous trees) scenario that involves lots of snow (Mt. Baker).  This is a harsh environment for sure.

All of this points to Stu’s knowledge of his camera’s mechanical limitations, the potential views of one of his favorite photographic sites, and his own capabilities to create an outstanding photograph on the spur of the moment!

Featured Photographer for October, 2011 – Stu Davidson, State of Washington

Stu Davidson is a lifelong native of the Pacific Northwest and now resides in just outside of Snohomish, Washington.  He is a retired software Engineer of thirty years, is currently pursuing his lifetime passion of photographing nature and wildlife.

You can view more of his wildlife and Trumpeter Swan photography at:  www.StuDavidsonPhotography.com

About the Photo:

From Stu: “Each winter I spend a good deal of time driving north from Snohomish to the Skagit Valley area of our state.  The Skagit Valley, just south of Mount Vernon Washington, is an incredibly pristine area to see and observe large numbers of migratory birds.  The birds that draw me to the area to photograph include: Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Hawks, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Blue Herons, Tundra Swans, and Trumpeter Swans.

This particular shot happened at the end of another great day of photographing wildlife in the Skagit Valley.  Being winter, and getting late in the day, I was losing light quick!  I began packing up my equipment to head home when I noticed the last of the day’s light lit Mount Baker in a nice soft hue, I thought “one last photo” before driving home.  Because of the low light, I adjusted my camera’s ISO to 2000.  As I began to position for a shot of Mount Baker, I caught a glimpse out the side of my eye of some large birds coming into “position”..   I recall feeling that my lucky day was continuing!  A pair of Trumpeters on a landing approach graced my viewfinder!!

Photo facts:

Photo taken: January 1, 2011 @ approximately 4:30pm

Equipment – Nikon D300s – Nikon 200-400 F/4.0 VR zoomed to 400mm

Aperture Priority – f/4.0, ISO – 2000”

We are pleased that Stu was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society.

22nd Trumpeter Swan Society Conference Final Agenda Released

October 5, 2011

Trumpeter Swan experts and enthusiasts from all regions of North America will soon convene in Montana. The final agenda for The Trumpeter Swan Society’s upcoming October 10-14, 2012 conference, in Polson is replete with experts on topics ranging from lead poisoning issues to genetic viability to recent results of the 5-Year 2010 Trumpeter Swan Survey. Find a list of speakers and topics on the Society’s website.

Dale Becker, TTSS Board President and biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), and Steve Lozar, CSKT Tribal Council Member will lead off with opening remarks, and a welcome to the Flathead Indian Reservation, co-sponsors of the Conference. Speakers scheduled for the October 11th,  Tuesday morning session will provide an overview of Trumpeter Swan population and issues, including an update on the 2010 North American Trumpeter Swan Survey. John Cornely, Executive Director, will describe the Society’s past, present and future, before kicking off an in-depth session on the pressing issue of conservation of Greater Yellowstone’s flocks. Susan Patla will speak Trumpeter status in Wyoming; Adonia Henry and Ruth Shea will discuss strategies for long term viability of Idaho’s Trumpeters. Gary Ivey, Board Vice President, will then chair a dynamic panel of experts including William Smith (USFWS), Rob Cavallaro (IDFG), J. Michael Scott (Univ. of Idaho), Jim Roscoe (Centennial Valley Assn.), and Kyle Cutting (USFWS).

After lunch, the agenda focus will be on Trumpeter Swan restoration efforts and genetic implications of programs, past and present. Several Montana projects will be featured by Janene Lichtenberg and Dale Becker (CSKT) and Clair Gower (MFWP), as well as an update of the Oregon program by Gary Ivey, and an overview of the situation for Trumpeters in Yellowstone, presented by Douglas W. Smith (NPS). Capping this session will be a talk by genetics expert Sara J. Oyler-McCance (USGS).

The afternoon will conclude with a session on managing for long-term viability, bringing in lessons learned from Greater Sage Grouse management, presented by Edward O. Garton (Univ. of Idaho). Effective use of partnerships to accomplish goals for viablity will be discussed by Dan Casey (American Bird Conservancy), with the afternoon session concluding with a panel and group discussion on a long term conservation vision for Greater Yellowstone.

Wednesday, October 12th is slated for an all day field trip to highlight Trumpeter Swan Restoration on the Flathead Indian Reservation, with visits to Pablo NWR, Ninepipe NWR and the Blackfoot River Valley to hear more on northern Montana’s efforts. That evening, filmmakers Steve and Char Harryman seek input from conference participants as they begin a five-year project to tell the remarkable story of the Trumpeter Swan.

Thursday, October 13 promises to be a full and exciting day. The morning sessions will feature updates on the Pacific Coast Population in Alaska and Canada. Board member Jim Hawkings will chair reports from Deborah J. Groves and John I. Hodges (USFWS), William Quirk (Anchorage), Karen S. Bollinger (USFWS), and Board member Jim King. After a break, Board member Joe Johnson chairs a session on Trumpeter Swan research; speakers include: Jim Hawkings (CWS), Harry Lumsden (TTSS Board, Ontario), Kyle Cutting (USFWS), and Mike Smith (Univ. of WA), who will address issues of lead shot poisoning in swans.

Topics after lunch hone in on the remarkable restoration of Interior populations, chaired by Ron Andrews, TTSS Board member recently retired from Iowa DNR. Speakers include Joe Johnson (TTSS Board, Michigan State Univ. Kellog Bird Sanctuary), Larry Gillette (Three Rivers Park District, MN), Wayne Brininger (USFWS), Dave Hoffman (IDNR), and Harry Lumsden.

The final session prior to the Thursday evening banquet is chaired by Becky Abel, TTSS Board member, wrapping up the conference with a focus on managing Interior and Pacific Coast populations. Shilo Comeau (USFWS) will speak on the High Plains flock, Roger Grosse (USFWS) will discuss landscape-level habitat use in the Sandhills of Nebraska and South Dakota, and Martha Jordan (Washington Swan Stewards) concludes with an update on Washington State Swan Stewards. All speakers and participants have a special treat in store, learning about George Melendez Wright, a pioneer for Trumpeter Swan Conservation, in the key note address given by Jerry Emory of the California Parks Foundation. Mr. Wright’s great influence on science-based wildlife management in our National Parks was prominently featured in the Ken Burns historical series on our nation’s parks. Participants staying on through the 14th are invited to join informal field trips to wildlife-rich areas in and around Polson.

Registration remains open and can be done online, or by contacting the Society’s Executive Director, John Cornely (303) 933-9861 johncornely@msn.com.

Details on the conference hotel and specifics can be found on the Society’s website.  Photo by TTSS member, A. Frederickson.