Swan Lake….& More

While I the images I am showing today are not representative of my best pictures, I did find them all in one folder (easy), and several thoughts came to my mind when I saw them. All but the duck making a splash, and the two Bald Eagle photos were made at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area in northwestern Wisconsin.  Crex was one of my favorite places for nature photography, but it is admittedly sort of hot and cold for subjects. You can find almost everything here but it takes some study and luck
to be there when it is hot.

Crex is a great place to see and photograph the endangered (here in WI) and reintroduced Trumpeter Swan. They make great subjects but there are some drawbacks.

Large, white dabbling birds like swans, depending on what plant life
they are dabbling for, and how muddy the bottom of the lake is, will
stain their pretty white neck and face. I was always one to take what I
could get and in fact if all of the swans I photographed had
flawlessly white necks I would probably be saying to myself, I wish I
could get some pictures with stains on their necks. That’s just me.

If they’ve got stains, well, why not just close in or crop the image
to feature that stain?

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Whenever you photograph a rare or reintroduced bird, the chance is
fair that it might be tagged and numbered in some fashion. I had
photographer friends that would not have photographed a swan with a
tag. I specifically made pictures of #H56 just because of the tag.

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A major part of photography is about telling stories
with pictures.


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With this next one, I get the feeling that if he/she had a camera, I would have been a subject.

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I’ve seen more Common Loons at Crex than any place in Wisconsin. One spring on a rainy, foggy morning I had two of them within 5 feet of me.

At another time, this one was swimming about seemingly enjoying itself.  I was in my car but I couldn’t get an angle for a shot. I got out, tripod, camera, and 500mm
f4 lens, and slowly walked ahead of where it was swimming, and click,
click, click.  I continued until the bird headed out into the lake. My photo buddy, never bothered to do that and I do not believe he ever got an image of a loon.

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Well now, there are fairly good reasons why I have never before showed this
image of a Sandhill Crane, also photographed at Crex. No, it’s not
because the bird is so scruffy. It’s about the harsh, contrasty light,
and the ugly background. Actually, the pictures are somewhat cool
despite their liabilities.

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I love little mammals and I never hesitated to make an image when I
found one. This little Thirteen-lined ground Squirrel was also
photographed at Crex.  Notice the harsh light from above, to the right, and the back. The reason there is detail in the foreground, is party because I exposed for the shadows, but mostly because light is reflecting off of the grasses and back at the animal.

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I added these two over shown images of a Bald Eagle because it brings up a digital imaging conundrum asking the question,  is altering an image wrong, right, or does it not matter much.

I have “cleaned up” these images a bit by cloning blue sky over a few
branches, I have shown these two images before with almost all of the
branches (not limbs) removed. This time I decided to share a more
natural (real) look. What will, you or won’t you do?

The more we move ahead in technology the more questions will be coming
up. Our own personal integrity is in question each and every day. The answers are not as easy as deciding what to leave in and what to leave out of an eagle image.



This Bufflehead roaring off was made on a Lake Michigan bay, and it
signals that it is time for me to do (roaring off) the same. I am not of course, on
a Lake Michigan bay as I write this, but I can move the window blinds and see
the lake.

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Have a great day,


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