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Bashful Swan

Bashful Swan
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-27
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, NIKKOR AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 ED DX VR, Optex 77mm Circular Polariser
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-03-11 18:07
Viewed: 4066
Points: 28
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Before Europeans traveled to Australia, it was a generally accepted fact that all swans were white. Imagine their surprise therefore when they did go to Australia and found a Black Swan (Cygnus atratus). This has given change to a metaphor, for an impossible, to a highly unlikely event. It’s not impossible because after all, Black Swans do exist.

These are mostly black birds with white wing tips. These can only be seen when the bird is flying. The female is said to be a little smaller than the male, though I couldn’t tell you which was which here. The younger Cygnets, as seen here, are grey.

They are found throughout Australia, being more common in the south. They prefer permanent wetlands, either salt or freshwater. They need 40 meters to take off.

The Black Swan is a vegetarian, feeding on algae and weeds, which they obtain by plunging their long neck into water, up to 1 meter deep. They will graze on land, but are generally clumsy here, and prefer water.

In the north they breed from February to March, with June to September being the preferred months in the south. They will lay up to 10 eggs in an untidy nest made of reeds and grasses. The chicks are able to swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch.

Much of this from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory and
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/books/chapters/0422-1st-tale.html?_r=1&ex=1178769600&en=bdae1078f2b4a98c&ei=5070&oref=slogin and
ID from: Simpson K. and Day N. (2004), Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell

When I shot this it was very late in the afternoon, with long shadows. I wanted to get a shot of the family, with the two Cygnets. Other birds (ducks and coots) kept getting in the way. I had this shot lined up and the trailing Swan turned bashful and dunked its head just prior to the shot. That made the shot just a little bit different from my expectations. I liked that.

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
The shoot – shot in Raw with Jpeg reference (62 mm ISO 400 f5.6 1/125)
NEF file adjusted for exposure and shadow, and vignetting
Levels – not used
Curves - adjusted RGB for contrast, then pulled down highlights on side scale
Dodged and Burned with overlay layer (5-10% opacity white and black)
Added saturation layer +15 to master
Saved as a tiff
for this post cropped for position (and to get rid of a duck), resized, created a new layer, selectively sharpened birds, framed and saved as a jpeg

JoseMiguel, Jamesp, mlines, rcrick, pierrefonds, Necipp, CeltickRanger, jhm, jusninasirun, pablominto has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-03-11 23:28]

Hi John

A very good composition and good use of the strongish light - thecygnets stand out very well from the shot. Good detail also.


  • Great 
  • mlines Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 556 W: 26 N: 668] (3116)
  • [2008-03-11 23:56]

Hi John, Very good composition showing some lovely details including the goslings , so fluffy, and the big swan feeding underwater, no doubt food to feed the small babies. Good colours. TFS. Murray.

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-03-12 0:34]

Hi John,
Wonderful shot of this Black Swan family having a good timein the water. Very interesting study in plumage colour and the red bill stands out elegantly. You do show us something exclusive today. The rippled water is dazzling and creates a fine effect. Excellent POV to portray this scene and very nicely composed. Kudos.

Hi John,
Great image of these two Black Swans and Cygnets, really good detail in the feathers, and that fluid motion of the water looks excellent, love the POV, all the best Cheers Rick :)

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-03-12 2:46]

Hi John,what a lovely situation! The little swan and the parents! I like a lot the reflections and the red mouth in a dark pic..my best compliments,Luciano

Hi John,
Certainly its a big contrast to see this black specie.
I like the way the red beak stands out so well on the bird, and your timing to get the other one with the head underwater.
Nice composition complemented with the pair of young ones.
Congratulations and thanks for share.
Best regards,

Hi John,

The black swan always amazed me during my visit to Australia in May 1981 and October 2004. It seem to be bigger compared to a white swan. The ripple in the water are an asset to the composition. The details and colors of the swan are clear and precise. Have a nice day.


Hello John, this a really cute family here, v.good dof from the foreground swan to the bg swan, and the babies are very sharp and detailed. A lovely shot indeed with lots of interesting contrast and nicely composed. tfs Rgds Necip

hello John

i love this kind of photo when we see baby animals or birds
with their parents, excellent POV and framing and i love
that 2 little baby Swans in the middle of their parents, TFS


  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-03-13 8:45]

Hello John

A lovely capture of this family.
The image is sharp with good focus.
Excellent detail and lighting.
The colours are natural.The black swans are very beautiful.


  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2008-03-13 12:04]

Hello John,

The black swan one of the most beautiful swans in the group of swans, certainly through the red beak.
Here together with two young small swans, splendid composition.
Very well done.

Best regards,

Hello John,
Very Lovely capture, nice composition and point of view, excellent sharpness and depth of field, nice naural colors and good light.

Hello John. This is one gorgeous composition in excellent sharpness of the quality optics. Pristine composition making it a complete family scene having a day out. I like the texture of the plumage of the parents. Very artistic pattern even with dark feather. The ripples add vibrancy to the whole composition and I like this one! Well done and best regards. Jusni

p/s: Thanks for the butterfly tips. I might try the bait instead of chasing them around and I have removed the pitiful bee-eater.

Hello John,
One advantage with white swans is they stand out well on dark water!
But of course this lovely family is an eye-catcher too, not least because of the fluffy two small ones...
A well balanced composition, with fine details in the birds!
Pablo -

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