NEW FEATURE ADDED TO PHOTO-OF-THE-MONTH
Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of-the-Month host Greg Smith says:
Mike’s image of the Trumpeter Swan flapping its wings early on a misty morning provides us the prospect of how to use misty weather to enhance a photograph.
Mike titles this “Angelic” and the ethereal feeling the mist adds to the picture has something to do with that title. First thing we notice beyond the swan is the bokeh (we discussed how to accomplish this in an earlier version of Photo-of-the-Month), that muted blue and white area in the background without any focus. The focal length of Mike’s lens adds to this, but the mist coming off of the river also softens the background and allows, actually makes the viewer focus on the bird.
The effect of the mist on the swan is subtle, but really does add to the photo! First, notice that the eye and the rust on the head are tack sharp in focus, not being affected by the mist! This draws the viewer to the bird and makes the initial contact.
The next aspect that your eye wanders to is the flight feathers or primaries on the wings. The feather shafts are all visible, the feather edges are almost crisp but not blurred and while the secondaries become a little muted. But when you look at the body feathers they are really muted without defined focus.
All of the above can happen with the focus of the lens, but I think it is the mist that makes these features so “angelic”. And the reason for that is that the head and the breast/body feathers are on the same focal plane – or the same distance from Mike and his lens. So the breast should have the same focus detail as the head and eyes – it doesn’t!
Mike saw the opportunity with mist rising from the river and used his capabilities as a photographer to create an outstanding photograph!
The Life History Moment
There are a few reasons we see swans (and other waterfowl) rise up and flap their wings without taking flight. One could be that the swan had just finished preening and flapping the wings allows any “ruffled” feathers to fall in place. There is also the opportunity to shake any water from the feathers, whether from foraging, droplets from the mist or as Mike describes below, it just finished a short bath. There is also the thought out there that wing flapping shows dominance (perceived or otherwise?) relevant to other swans in the area. Any other thoughts out there as to why swans might do this?
Featured Photographer for February, 2012 – Mike Lentz, State of Minnesota
Mike specializes in nature photography and nature photo instruction. The world of natural history has always been a love of his, as is photography, and combining the two only seemed fitting. You can find Mike’s images on:
About the Photo:
From Mike: “I was on the Mississippi River laying on the shoreline with many Trumpeters. I spent most of my time concentrating my efforts on the individual birds. This was a very cold day, it was -18 when I got out of my car and when I walked down to my spot and saw all the steam I knew the chance to capture a special image was possible. In this moment the swan had just dipped in the water multiple times and was just opening up to do a flap his/her wings. “
We are pleased that Mike was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society.