Stephen Mayeux  

Trumpeter Swan Pair by Stephen Mayeux

March 2020 - Trumpeter Swan Pair

March 2020 - Stephen Mayeux


About the Image(s)

This image was taken in a "Yellowstone In Winter" photo workshop. Our group was in the area with swans and ducks on Yellowstone River. We took various pictures of flying ducks and the Trumpeter Swan pair along the river before this pair decided it was time to move to another location. I had a D3 with a 600mm lens on a tripod. When they started running on the water to take off I could only get one swan in the picture. After 8 to 10 frames the pair was at a good distance and both were in the photo. I like this photo because of the symmetry of the wings and both have sharp heads, eyes and tails. The trailing bird has drops of water falling from its feet. I reduced the highlights, exposure and added Clarity and Dehaze. I converted the image to B&W because the only true colors were a hint of orange on the swans beaks. Then I cropped the image.

7 comments posted

Mark Laussade   Mark Laussade

This is a great shot. The birds are in good focus with a hint of motion in the wings. The background really helps the birds stand out. Your crop was wise, giving a little more room ahead of the birds. I don't know if those are bird reflections at the bottom, but they help the composition, as well. I like the way you toned down the highlights to give much better detail in the feathers. I was shooting birds last week on South Padre Island. I know how hard it is to capture moving targets!   Posted: 03/02/2020 13:31:44
Stephen Mayeux   Stephen Mayeux
Mark, I agree birds in flight usually don't get the extra difficulty factor added to their score when being judged. I was the only photographer of 6 in our group that had both birds in focus flying. I was zeroed in on the trailing bird and had several shots of that swan running on the water during take off before they were far enough to capture both swans in one frame without cutting off part of the lead bird. The reflections in the water are the wings of the swans. My camera focus point was centered at take off which caused the lead bird to be too far forward in the full size image. My crop could have been different but I did not want anymore on the left side but I could have selected more at the top.

Thanks again for your comments.   Posted: 03/06/2020 14:18:04

Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Stephen, I totally agree with Mark! This is an extraordinary photograph. It's one of those images that many of us wish we had taken. Your post-processing is "right on" with the highlights well controlled and the water's surface darkened so that it provides an excellent background for the swans. Well done indeed!

There is only a trivial suggestions that I can offer. Since the lead bird's wing touches the trailing bird's head, you might consider providing just a bit more separation between them. I attached the sort of thing that I have in mind.

I realize that some people don't approve of this type of modification (i.e., moving the lead bird). And, I also feel that it's not an acceptable practice for journalistic or documentary photography.

  Posted: 03/04/2020 12:19:24
Comment Image
Stephen Mayeux   Stephen Mayeux
Oliver, I agree with your modification and separation of the two swans but I thought I may enter this image in a nature or wildlife competition. When I presented the digital image to our photo club I had good scores but not what I was hoping for. On my apple computer screen it looks great but when digitally projected it loses a lot of the impact and detail. I have not printed this image. I was waiting on comments from this group to see if I was missing an obvious flaw. If I were printing the image for sale or a non-nature competition I would incorporate your modification.

Thanks for your comments.   Posted: 03/06/2020 14:29:17

Barbara E Miller   Barbara E Miller
A beautiful image Steve, I would have loved to have taken this. The B&W change is very natural. I do believe that Pete's change is warranted although as he suggests it is not acceptable in PSA's nature division.
This would make a lovely wall hanging, and you can be most proud that you captured it.   Posted: 03/05/2020 19:54:43
Stephen Mayeux   Stephen Mayeux
Thanks for the encouraging words.   Posted: 03/06/2020 14:32:37

Nick Muskovac   Nick Muskovac
Steve, This is an award winner. Great nature shot. It makes a good black/white picture. You should print it. I don't think the swans need separating. They are fine as they are.   Posted: 03/10/2020 15:16:21


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