Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who's never photographed a swan?

click photo to enlarge
Alright, hands up! Who's never photographed a swan? We all do it don't we - except you at the back pretending to be above such a thing? And we all know it's about the corniest picture you can take. But we just can't help ourselves, can we!

However, I've been thinking. Why should we apologise for snapping swans? They are the biggest, whitest, most beautiful birds, with that superb flash of colour on the beak. Watch them sailing along, looking like kings and queens of the water, maintaining a slow, calm, quiet dignity in all they do. Well, except taking off and landing on the ground - these actions look like a struggle followed by a controlled tumble! And they are so obliging. They perform like catwalk models. "You want me sailing left? Certainly sir". "Sailing right with neck sensuously curved - how's this?" "Wings raised and feathers fluffed? There you are sir." "A little closer to fill the frame? Is this near enough?"

I suppose that's the problem. Because swans seem to be putting on a permanent show, regardless of what they are doing, they are photographed t0 death! And it's hard to find a new take on the swan photograph. Here's my attempt above. Out of the many shots I fired off, this is the best. Nothing special, I grant you. But I did like the symmetry that's slightly broken by the regal turn of the head and the shadow of the neck. Mainly I liked the heart shape made by the raised wings. Perhaps the shot would be suitable for a Valentine's Day card. Now that would be really corny!
photograph & text (c) T.Boughen


Hiding Pup said...

I've been racking my brains trying to think of innovative ways of photographing swans...

1.) Catalogue beak-markings. Swans used to be especially bred for their beak-markings - those belonging to Henry VIII, for instance, had markings that resembled a drawn bow and arrow.

2.) Find black swans?

3.) Follow them until they do something really undignified like peck at undernourished ducks.

4.) Get in the water and photograph them up to the water-level.

Years ago, I saw a swan take off off the water. It was majestic - until it snagged a telephone cable with its foot a few metres from the ground. Luckily, though baffled, it wasn't hurt (and a swan sanctuary was less than 200m away). I wish I'd taken that picture.

Tony Boughen said...

Interesting observations. Thanks for devoting some brainpower to this thorny subject. Here are moy thoughts on your thoughts.

1. Interestingly the Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust has conducted extensive research on whooper swans based on their unique "fingerprint" i.e. the distinctive pattern of black and yellow on their beaks.

2. A cliched photograph is a black swan among white swans - the black sheep of the family (sort of)!

3. An undignified swan - rarely seen surely.

4. You can: I'm not!

5. I once saw a coot take off, hit the strands of a wire fence, tumble across the ground, and walk off as if nothing had happened!