ARCHIVE 304 – SWAN PREENING (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swan preening in the harbour at Mevagissey, Cornwall; 24 Oct 2012.

Two of these beautiful waterbirds appear very much at home in this harbour – no doubt vastly encouraged by the people who regularly feed them!  Having been fed, this pair hung around right below the quay, and I was able to look right down on top of them.

This is a Minimalist shot.  There are comparitavely few tones, and the shapes are dominated by the huge, oval mass of the bird’s body, with the neck writhing snake-like back over the closed wing, trying to reach somewhere awkward.  My gaze was attracted to the contrast in shape between the bird as a whole and this sinuous neck.

The bird’s face is hardly seen – just the dark skin around the eyes and the base of the bill – but this is sufficient to give some focus to the shot – and the eye following the sinuous neck back arrives at this small area of black.

I’ve cropped the shot quite closely, so that the bird appears so large that it seems to be bursting out of the frame.  But keeping the dark backdrop up against the right vertical of the frame, and so preserving that soft and beautifully curving breast, was totally mandatory!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, using the Darken Contrast Vignette as a jumping off point.

UPDATE: very much a long-term favourite of mine, for the reasons given above.  The simplicity of this image is really the thing; Minimalism; less is more.  Looking at it again this morning, my eye is also drawn to those half-seen little bits of plumage detail along the bird’s flank, along the image’s bottom margin.

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ARCHIVE 300 – THE BAY BESIDE BROOK COPSE

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to see a larger version in a separate window.

Mute Swan in the bay beside Brook Copse, on Chew Valley Lake’s northeast edge; south of Bristol; 15 May 2015.

An image almost without colour, with the marked exception of that beacon-like bill.  The various structures within this image are mainly horizontal – the wavelets, the areas of water plants – but the bird’s gentle bow wave is at a slight angle to this trend.

A popular path around the lake crosses a small stream or brook here via a small bridge, and walkers often feed the waterbirds from the bridge.  This swan spotted me on the bridge from some way off and, ever ready for food, came over – but I had not a thing edible on me!

You can find a very different picture of a swan at this lake here.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO.

UPDATE: I still very much like the simplicity of this, both in terms of colour and the textures and structures present.  The structures are of three types.  Those on the water’s surface are linear.  Then there are the three horizontal bands of blackish emergent vegetation – out of focus in the foreground, highly scattered in the middle ground, and helping to form some sort of more solid closure to the top of the composition.  And the swan, really, is the only more rounded, organic thing there.
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STILL LIFE 102 – SWAN 3 (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swan in low key – the first of these bird still lifes, with context, is here: 1, and there are other images here: 2; 3.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that larger image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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STILL LIFE 101 – SWAN 2

 

 


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Close in with a Mute Swan – the first of these bird still lifes, with context, is here: 1, and there is another image here: 2.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that larger image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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STILL LIFE 97 – SWAN

 

 

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Close in with a male Mute Swan.  The large black knob above the base of the bill shows this to be an adult male, a cob.

Most of the bird was bathed in bright sunlight, and spot metering overexposed the highlights below its head.  Some very vague traces of its body are still visible, at upper right and lower left.  These would be easy to remove, but they’re left in to provide (a very little!) context. 

The first of these bird still life images, with context, is here: 1

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that larger image to enlarge it again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 215mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using Fuji’s Classic Chrome colour profile;  Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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ARCHIVE 269 – SWAN, KEEPING AN EYE ON ME (MONO)

 

 

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Mute Swan, back-lit and keeping a wary eye on me; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 6 Apr 2015.

The common, resident swan of the British Isles, often tame – and especially so where regularly fed bread and other morsels by indulgent humans!

This is probably an adult male.  Adult on the basis of its white plumage, although its head and neck were stained dirty brown where it had been upending and reaching down into the muddy water to feed on aquatic vegetation.  And a Cob, a male, on the basis of its deep orange bill, and the large black knob on its forehead.

A formidable creature, and certainly not one to annoy.  He was keeping an eye on me, but I was keeping an eye on him too.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Key 2 preset.

UPDATE: they are not totally mute despite their name, uttering various hisses, snorts and even occasional gull-like cries.  But their large wings make a high, throbbing, singing noise in flight which, to me, is one of the most beautiful and ethereal sounds of this world.

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BRISTOL 103 – THE RIVER BELOW BRISTOL BRIDGE

 

 

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The river below Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 5 Aug 2016.

This is a Mute Swan, the species that stays with us all year, which is common on waterways and lakes in towns and cities – especially where they are fed by passersby!  Due to the fact that these birds habitually up end and reach down into the murky waters for vegetation, its head and neck are a little darker than the rest of its plumage.

The reflections in the water are from the side of the Glassboat, which is a floating restaurant moored right beside Bristol Bridge.

And Bristol Bridge is exactly what its name says – because it is thought to be on the site of the very first, Anglo Saxon bridge, a wooden structure that gave the city its name – in the year AD 1063 the settlement around this early bridge was known as Brycgstow, the site of the bridge.  By AD 1200, that early name had become Bristoll.  This bridge, and hence the settlement that grew up around it, were at the lowest crossing point of the River Avon – see this link.

These murky waters also hold a particular memory for me because it was from this bridge, sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, that my errant father, who was both a policeman and an expert swimmer, dived into the river to save the life of someone who, intent on suicide, had jumped off the bridge.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 271 – WATER LILIES, CLOUDS AND SWANS, ON THE NORTH DRAIN (MONO)

 

 

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The view westwards along the North Drain, on Tealham Moor; 24 June 2016.

Standing on the bridge over the North Drain, looking westwards along this dead straight, manmade waterway.  Here the Levels are below sea level, and this little bridge is the highest vantage point around.

The Mute Swans are always here, and the air often echoes with the shrill singing made by their wings in flight. 

And the water lilies are in all of these placid waters, as too – often – are the reflections of clouds.

X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Wet Rocks preset.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 235 – SWANS, GRAZING (MONO)

 

 

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Swans grazing on pastureland; Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore; 2 April 2015.

Some see swans purely as waterbirds, and on or beside water is where they’re usually encountered, reaching down into the water’s depths with their long necks to feed on aquatic vegetation.  But they are often seen out on the fields of the Somerset Levels, quite at home grazing on short grass.

These are Mute Swans, the UK’s common and often tame, resident bird.  But in the winter they may be joined here by a few Bewick’s and Whooper Swans that have come south to avoid the Arctic’s bitter freeze.

And the pylon?  Well, 15 miles or so west of here, and in stark contrast to the Levels’ rural reaches, there is the Hinkley Point atomic power station, which sends lines of such gaunt metal towers snaking out across the surrounding countryside.  The two reactors there are ageing now, but a third is proposed and construction is underway.

And  – hot question! – am I in favour of nuclear power and especially, in this instance, so close to my favourite haunts?  Well, the jury’s out on nuclear, I guess, my only certainty being that we need to get power from somewhere – news stories talk of our electricity supplies being only just sufficient to cover winter demands.  Let’s hope that a way is found to generate power by nuclear fusion, rather than the nuclear fission used now – and that it is found soon!

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 2,000 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset.
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BIRDS 73 – SWAN, PREENING (MONO)

 

 

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This image is best seen at larger scale – click onto to it to see a larger version in a separate window.

Mute Swan at Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, not far south of Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

The bird is preening, busily rearranging its feathers in a flurry of activity that is sending concentric ripples out across the surrounding water.

There is another photo of this bird, in very different pose and style, here.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; -0.3EV; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset.
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