On New Year’s Eve day 3 photographer friends and I headed over to the St. Croix River in Hudson, WI to photograph the trumpeter swans that spend the winter there.
It was a perfect way to end 2016.
This spot has been known as a wintering ground for trumpeter swans for years because parts of the river stay open all winter. In the past couple of years not so many swans gather at this location because with the milder winters we’ve been having, more open water can be found in other places.
I was glad that there were fewer swans as it was easier to isolate single or small groups of swans in my photographs. When there are too many birds it’s more difficult to frame shots that are interesting and compelling.
The simpler the shots the better. Otherwise the viewer doesn’t know where to look or what is important. The question I like to ask myself is, “What is this photograph about?” If I can’t answer that question I’m pretty sure that the photograph will not connect with other viewers.
The beauty of the swans and being out in nature were just what I needed. I love the way the neck curves echo one another with these 2 swans.
These two swans seem to be having a conversation.
The moments I wait for—when these magnificent birds spread their wings wide!
This swan has a look on it’s face like it’s thinking, “What are you looking at? I’m just standing here.”
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
– Mary Oliver
Wet ice is slippery going. As graceful as the swan looks in the water, it struggles awkwardly on solid ground.
Getting ready to take a swim. Juvenile swans are brownish gray in fall and winter with their feathers starting to turn white in December. By March their feathers will be nearly all white.
This juvenile swan is lifting it’s foot to step up onto the ice. Look at the size of that webbed foot and the little claw-like appendages.
A view of the riverbank where we photographed. It’s a popular spot for photographers and bird lovers.
May you walk in beauty.