Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swan Song

Thank you everyone for indulging me in my latest texture madness craze and for leaving such wonderful comments!

This morning when I got up I received the nicest email from Sharyne for the wonderful blog The Views from My Valley.  Sharyne lives in North Queensland Australia and she had written me to tell me she had tried applying some textures to a beautiful rose photo she had taken.  You can see both gorgeous photos below, and I can't tell you how happy I am that blogging about the joys I get from photography actually made someone want to try using textures for themself.  That's how I got hooked after all, visiting blogs with beautiful photographs and wanting to know more!

 (Photo by Sharyne)

(Photo by Sharyne)

Thanks for sending these wonderful pictures Sharyne, they really are lovely.  If anyone else has been inspired to try images...you know who you are (Yvonne!), then please send me a copy, I would love to see them!

It's been a cold, gray day here in Maryland, but thankfully we dodged the bullet and ended up with only rain.  I got an email from my brother who lives much further north in the state and he is iced in, so I'm happy with cold, gray and rainy for now.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that each year in December a group of Tundra Swans winter over here, and it's something I look forward to every winter.  This year however, we've seen very little of the swans.  They've been spending most of their time across the street on the river side where the water isn't frozen.  I've sorely missed seeing these graceful birds and hearing their unusual calls each day, so when they appeared on our creek today I knew we needed to try and take some pictures.

I used the term "we" because when they showed up early this morning I was still in my PJs and wasn't really too anxious to go outside and take pictures.  It meant lugging a tripod, putting the big telephoto lens on, and then the teleconverter I got for my birthday which helps increase the magnification of the lens.  Now I know that doesn't sound like a lot of work, but when you have to then bundle up and drag the stuff through the woods, so that you don't spook these timid creatures, it sometimes takes the charm out of trying to capture them.

Add to that the fact that we have about 6 bazillion swan photos, none of which ever seem to turn out, and I was really not motivated to go.

Thankfully I married well, and Mr. Tide wasn't so pessimistic, or maybe lazy, so he gathered up the equipment, threw on his coat and scarf and headed out to try once again to get a photo of these beautiful birds.

The teleconverters are really meant to be used with much better lenses, better lighting, and higher quality camera bodies.  I use a Canon Rebel XTI (a consumer grade camera) which is now almost 4 years old, and none of my lenses are professional grade, so I'm sure we would have better luck with these difficult (at least for Mr. Tide and me) to shoot subjects if we had better equipment.  Yes, that's me whining about not having professional grade equipment...sorry, but I drool when I see professional photographers and their awesome equipment!  That's my way of prefacing these photos by saying that they are a bit grainy but I want to also add that these are some of the best photos we've ever been able to take of the swans...so of course Mr. Tide will have bragging rights for a bit.

As you can tell by the photos above, the swans aren't opposed to walking on the ice to get to the open water along the edges of the creek.  What I do find funny though is how they will sometimes choose the ice over the free flowing water.  In the photo above, they are all actually sleeping standing up!

The title of this post is Swan Song, and I'm sure some of you have wondered where that phrase comes from.  It's most often heard when describing  someone's final appearance, career farewell, or even their demise.  I decided to do a little digging via Google and here's what I found about the origin of this interesting phrase.  The info below comes from Wikipedia...where else!  To read the entire excerpt and to see examples where this saying has been used throughout literature, in song, and plays you can click here!

The phrase "swan song" is a reference to an ancient belief that the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, when it sings one beautiful song.[1]

Mute Swans are not actually mute during life – they hiss – and they do not sing as they die. 

So do you ever recall someone making their Swan Song?!

Here is a lovely song entitled Swan Song.  The lead singer has a beautiful voice!


  1. Oh WOW Kat! To wake up this morning and click onto your blog and see my two "first attempts" at texturising - well, I just feel so humbled (and teary!) - such a sook. Thank you....thank you.... thank you (a hundred times over) for introducing me to this intoxicating world of photography and photo editing. I have soo many new toys to play with - I just don't know where to begin! Thank you also for your generousity in sharing such fabulous tips and tutes - you really are "one in a million". ;)Sharyne

  2. Oooh, love her second textured photo. I try to do a few now and then but it just gets so time consuming that I get carried away and have no time for all of the other fun things in life. Glad she tried it though and was successful. That's always a great feeling.


  3. Sharyne-lovely use of texture.

    Kat-the swans are fabulous and my how you married well...that made me smile:}

  4. Those shots look magnificent to me without the fancy equipment. Most of us don't know the difference anyway.

  5. So pretty! They look like they are walking on water. xo Cathy

  6. The swan pictures are gorgeous...they put a lump in my throat as I haven't been to the lake in 3 months and I miss our swans!! Love the picture of them sleeping standing up! lol!

    I like the the first definition of how the 'Swan Song' came about...much more romantic! But I have heard them hiss...they hate us when we are on our wave runners!!

    Hope you are having a good start to the week, Kat.


  7. Those swans are just so beautiful...how lucky you are to be able to photo them.

  8. Your photos certainly always look professional to me! The swans are so lovely!

  9. The only place I've ever seen a live swan before was in a public garden. What an amazing creature to just see out in nature. I would have carried your equipment and tripod for you Kat! But I see that Mr. Tide came to the rescue and was rewarded greatly for his efforts. Amazing! xo ~Lili

  10. Love the photos with the textures! Can you do that, make your own textures with Picaso or Picnik,do you know? That would be so fun!! I love swans, they are just so beautiful and graceful, mean as all get out but beautiful! I was kicking myself today as I drove through the beach and there were swans, they were so pretty with calm water and little ice burgs floating all around them! Maybe tomorrow.

    Have a wonderful night!

  11. The rose is lovely. The photos of the swans
    ( such graceful, gorgeous birds to begin with ) are beautiful.

  12. Kat, what a truly amazing thing to wake up to this morning!! Swans are so beautiful and graceful. I love your snow pictures and your rose pictures are absolutely awesome! Keep up the good work!

  13. Beautiful photos, Kat! You sure get some lovely wildlife there! We've never had swans on our lake, I'd love seeing that! I did see two bald eagles in trees by the Minnesota River yesterday...beautiful!

  14. There is a place in the UK where they will send you the origin of a phrase each week. You can sign up for t the email here: A Phrase A Week [apaw@phrasefinder.co.uk]. This week is "Beyond the Pale". Learn a little each week!

  15. Kat - these photos are drop dead gorgeous! They are so beautiful that you need to frame them or publish them in some way - you may have a bazillion pictures that did not turn out - (don't we all- that's the beauty of digital photography!) - BUT these are fabulous! Love this post dear Kat!!


  16. Congrats on Mr Tide's great photos. What a wonderful thing to get to see every winter. Those swans are so majestic.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.