Photographing swans is a very popular form of nature and wildlife photography. Swans are stunning animals and they often can be found in incredibly picturesque settings making them ideal for photographing.
Before settling down to take some pictures of swans it is important to understand what you are trying to capture. This means understanding the characteristics of swans and their environment.
Understanding The Swan
Swans are typically large birds that can have a wingspan of up to six feet. They swim beautifully and gracefully with very little effort and often make their way along the water surface using just their feet. This makes them ideal birds to photograph as they will often hold their wings in a suitable position for photographing. Bigger birds tend to be more impressive and are also easier to photograph.
The plumage of the swan is also important. As swans are waterfowl many species have dull black or brown feathers which helps them to camouflage in their environment when they are swimming on the water surface. But most photographers look to photography white swans.
Where to Find Swans to Photograph
Swans can be found in a wide variety of places depending on the species and the time of year. The most popular locations for photographing swans are around lakes and ponds away from urban areas. This gives you the best chance of finding a good number of swans to photograph together. Some photographers do venture into cities when trying to photograph brightly colored birds such as whistling swans or pink-footed geese but this requires a lot of patience and can often prove futile as birds are more easily spooked in urban environments.
Photographing swans often involves waiting for them to settle down into a position while floating on the water surface. This can be difficult as swans are known to fly at any moment. But it is certainly possible for you to get those photographs that really capture the character of the bird.
Swans will often dive under water with lightning speed and this can be a little challenging when you are trying to photograph them in their natural habitat. But, it is a technique that can be practiced and perfected over time.
What Gear Is Needed For Swan Photography
As is the case with many types of wildlife photography, good equipment is required in order to produce superior images. Swans are generally found in areas which are difficult to reach and perfect for photography.
This means you will often have to take a boat or hike in when trying to find these beautiful birds. The water is also a great advantage as it offers natural backgrounds which can be used in order to enhance the photographs that you take.
Choose a camera that offers high-quality lenses and a high resolution in order to ensure that every aspect of the swan is captured. Waterproof or water-resistant cameras are ideal for photographing swans on the water as they often make unexpected dives. A tripod is recommended to ensure that long exposure shots are possible even when there is not much light present.
When it comes to lenses try to choose something with a wide angle zoom which will allow you to take in the surroundings and provide you with more flexibility if you need to move quickly. It is also worth considering something that is built for high-quality photography as these can be more expensive than basic zoom lenses. Lenses with large apertures are also highly recommended when it comes to photographing swans as this will ensure that you can get the most out of your camera’s lens capabilities.
A wide angle zoom is very important for capturing an group of swans which can sometimes be a challenge for photographers who want close up shots or great detail in their images.
Other important pieces of equipment include a flash or a reflector as these can be used to light up the background of your images as well as lighting low light environments. A remote release or timer may also be necessary if you are taking long exposures and want to avoid camera shake from bumping into objects on the way down.
Swan Photography Tips
1) Don’t become distracted by the beauty of the bird. It is important to keep your eyes on your subject and not on its surroundings.
2) Take a variety of images which allows you to show the subtle aspects of the bird. The detail of their feathers or the curve of their neck.
3) Try to get a wide variety of photographs in as many different conditions as possible. Natural light, artificial light, and backlit situations can all be very useful in showing the full range of color tones available when photographing swans.
4) A fast shutter speed is all that is needed for freezing the motion of the bird, so if you are using a tripod make sure it is well-balanced to ensure good shots.
5) Keep your camera as steady as possible and take small steps when walking around in order to avoid a trip making yourself vulnerable to any flying swans nearby.
6) Take a variety of images from different angles and distances to ensure that you get a shot that is perfect for each one.
7) Search for the best lighting conditions, if there are no shadows on the swan’s bodies it make their feathers appear dull. Try to find shadows in order to capture more detail in the swans feathers.
The tips above are just a few of the essential things one should keep in mind when photographing swans. There is no doubt that these birds are some of the most beautiful and elegant creatures on the planet and it is easy to feel drawn to them as they glide across the water.
There are many ways to approach wildlife photography but it is important to remember that patience and dedication will always be required for you to get those perfect shots when out in the field.