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Sunbathing at -7C

Sunbathing at  -7C
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-01-15
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
Exposure: f/8, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Pictured Symbolic Qualities of Sun, Peace and Love, Wildlife of Japan [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-02-06 8:07
Viewed: 6086
Points: 66
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Believe it or not these Whooper Swans are in Hokkaido for the mild temperatures! The previous night it had been -22C. I know this is nothing for you hardy folk in the northern USA, Canada and Scandinavia, but to someone from the UK - that is not a temperature - it's sarcasm!!

These Whooper Swans are classified as a National Treasure along with the Stellar's Sea Eagle, the White-Tailed Sea Eagle and the Cranes at Izumi. The Red-Crowned Cranes or Tanchos are a Special National Treasure (they occupy a special place in Japanese Art and the national physche).

I must admit, I was less than bowled over by the Whooper Swans as there are 2,000 overwintering 15 miles away from me on the WWT reserve at Welney and RSPB resrve at Manea (same wetland, different parts). I was speaking to a warden ar Welney last week and he told me that this year the Whooper figure had actually topped 4,000 this year (there are also c5,000 Bewicks Swans as well). The dyke at the bottom of my garden flows into this wetland about 10 miles away, but I have only seen the swans near my house on three occasions since I moved here in 1988 (and those were flocks flying over).

The Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) is a large Northern Hemisphere swan. It is the Old World counterpart of the North American Trumpeter Swan.

Anyway, the Whoopers here are the eastern race - the ones near me are the western race - from Iceland.

The Whooper Swan is similar in appearance to the Bewick's Swan. However, it is larger, at a length of 140-160 cm (55-63 in), a wingspan of 205-235 cm (81-93 in) and a weight range of 8-15 kg (17.6-33 lbs). It has a more angular head shape and a more variable bill pattern that always shows more yellow than black (Bewick's Swans have more black than yellow) - though I can never tell them apart unless I see them together - I went to the reserve 3 times last week as well!

Whooper swans require large areas of water to live in, especially when they are still growing, because their body weight cannot be supported by their legs for extended periods of time. The whooper swan spends much of its time swimming, straining the water for food, or eating plants that grow on the bottom.

These swans have a deep honking call and, despite their size, are powerful fliers. Whooper swans can migrate many hundreds of miles to their wintering sites in northern Europe and eastern Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia, further south than Bewick's in the taiga zone. They are rare breeders in northern Scotland, particularly in Orkney, and no more than five pairs have bred there in recent years. This bird is an occasional vagrant to western North America. Icelandic breeders overwinter in England and Ireland, especially in the wildfowl nature reserves of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Whooper swans pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years. Their preferred breeding habitat is wetland, but semi-domesticated birds will build a nest anywhere close to water. Both the male and female help build the nest, and the male will stand guard over the nest while the female incubates. The female will usually lay 4-7 eggs (exceptionally 12). The cygnets hatch after about 36 days and have a grey or brown plumage. The cygnets can fly at an age of 120 to 150 days.

CeltickRanger, NinaM, vanderschelden, pvs, eqshannon, rousettus, uleko, earthtraveler, Scott, Adanac, rcrick, ramthakur, JPlumb, joey, SelenE, jusninasirun, Argus, Alex99, PeterZ, angybone has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Tabib: ThanksJamesp 1 02-07 13:33
To CeltickRanger: Low level POVJamesp 1 02-06 08:20
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Critiques [Translate]

hello James

beautiful photo, excellent camera job to get the natural colours
of the snow and the of the swans with very good details,
excellent luminosity of the image
and i love the low POV at their level, TFS


  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-02-06 8:22]

Hi James, I love this shot. The frame is split in half by the dof, and the blurred swans make such a wonderful background! Once again, your composition is superb and I am impressed by the details in the white on white. As for the cold, minus 22 is cold! ;-) Thank you!


Hello James,
A 2x3;-)...
One '3' foreground and not blurred
Second '3' backgroud and blurred.
What I do like in your image here are the light and the highlights.
The light is beautiful and quite low.
THe highlights are very well detailed and exposed.
Well done

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-02-06 8:53]

Hi James,

A nice capture of this whooper swans,here despite the temperatures above freezing point,all swans have left to overwinter,regards,


Hi James
So fare it is sunshine it is good even if it is -7C.
Nice details & colours on this one

A very funny composition. Lighting and colors is excellent. TFS

James...or do they call you Jim? Always nice to see how some can separate shades of white by using the light for a technique of capturing certain angles of the apparent skin of the creature. This is definitely going into a theme or two. An excellent capture and very well presented..

Hello James,
After great cranes and macaques' shots from Japan, nice to see also beautiful swans'.
You captured them perfectly. Everthing from title to lighting and white balance excellent. Notes always very nice and informative. thanks for sharing. best wishes

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-02-06 9:20]

Hi James,
Wonderful shot of the Whooper Swans basking in the sun. Lovely colours and details. Superb natural lighting and exposure levels. I like your chosen POV and the composition. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-02-06 9:25]

Hello James,
We get plenty of Whooper Swans here too but they're not exactly photogenic as they're resting on the muddy fields! This is a very beautiful shot with clear details and in beautiful light. Excellent low POV too!
Many thanks and cheers, Ulla

nice group of swans, TFS Ori

Hi James, Nice group shot of these swans.
Good job with the exposure to keep the detail in the white birds. TFS

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2008-02-06 10:12]

Hi James, so nice to see Whooper Swans here on TN. This is a perfect setting for them. Great exposure on all of the whites! good light and colours too. Very interesting pov and great compositon.

  • Great 
  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2008-02-06 10:56]

Poor birds... I feel I'm cold too with them...
Wonderful shot, great exposure and focus, nice color and composition

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-02-06 13:56]

Hi .Just a quick note for now to say great picture .

  • Great 
  • Scott Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 225 W: 0 N: 356] (1752)
  • [2008-02-06 15:19]

Does enyone know the origin of the word Cygnets ... seems an ugly word not discriptive word for someting cuddily and cute,

Very nice exposure, it's difficult to get the details in the whites,

TFS scott

Hello James,
Excellent exposure and focus in this great shot!
good sharpness, colour and so much details!
great notes comes with it

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-02-06 17:35]

Hi James,
This is a nice capture showing them hunkered down for the weather. Your capture shows them with excellent detail in their white plumage and those yellow beaks are brilliant. Thanks for sharing James.

  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2008-02-06 17:42]

Hello James,
Very beautiful presentation, everything is white
Great POV and composition.. Well done


Hi James,
This is a great image the f.8 has effectively give us two images, in the foreground we have three Whooper Swans looking great and in the background almost identical shot but nicely blurred, very effective, exposure, details, & composition all excellent as well, really nice work, all the best Cheers Rick :)

Looks like these Whooper Swans are having fun time in the sun, James.
White against white is a challenging set up for a photographer, but you have done a great job of it.
TFS and regards.

  • Great 
  • Tabib Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 160 W: 5 N: 167] (859)
  • [2008-02-07 0:38]
  • [+]

Hello James,

Very well expose picture of white subject in white background. Nice side lighting that make the pic 3 dimension.
I like those orange and black beak.
P/S: I wish I can travel for nature tours like you! :-)

Hi James, white on white and very good control of the light. Your depth of field giving us two distinct groups of 3 is interesting. Great textures seen on the first 3 with subdued textures on the back swans. I like it.

Thanks, John

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-02-07 5:21]

The coldest temperature I've ever felt is -15C while on top of a Bulgarian mountain, I was basically frozen solid and I had about 5 layers on including a thermal vest and an inch thick Skii jacket!!
It's incredible how warm a thin layer of feathers can be!

This is is a great shot of these Whooper Swans!
You've exposed it superbly resulting in an evenly lit shot with no burnt-out or UE areas.
The black beaks add a touch of contrast to the photo.
Sharp and crisp.
Well done James!

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-02-07 7:33]

James, Lovely note and what a shot. Nice sorrounding and excellent POV and clarity.TFS Friend.Ganesh

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-02-08 0:05]

Hi James,
They look so elegant and beautiful. It is very nice to see so many of them in one frame. Good composition, POV, and nice shallow DOF.
Have a nice weekend,

Hello James,

Nice picture under the sun. Could have been in black and white except for the yellow bill. I like the light shining on those white snow and the back of those birds giving hues of coloration. Well done.


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-02-08 4:01]

Hello James,
I never realised that Whooper Swans are found as far east as Japan!
This is a great capture with excellent management of the whites. Technically superb with the yellow colour of the beaks showing extremely well against the snow.
Thanks for sharing this one,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-02-08 9:01]

Hi James.
This is my theme now too. Charming scene of the beautiful birds. Terrific exposure and colour reproduction. Details of the swan images are perfect and passage to blurred BG is amazing. My best wishes and TFS.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-02-08 11:03]

Hello James,
Excellent photo of this Whoopers. Details in the whites are excellent. Very beautiful light and a great DOF and POV.

that sure looks like one cold place to hang out.
Great shot - wonderful capture of light colors and tones. :)

Hi James,
You really are a globe trotter! Is there a country in the world that you didn't visit :? This is an interesting capture of those beautiful birds and you managed exposure perfectly! I like those different tones of white and nice low POV. -22 is cold but as you said in your notes, we have seen worst… I still remember many years ago at Christmas time when the front page of newspapers announced -52 Degrees Celsius, this was sarcasm! We didn’t go skiing that day :)! Thanks,

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-02-19 19:47]

Hello James

A lovely composition of these Whoopers.The exposure of white on white is very good.
The lighting is warm with very good colours.
Excellent POV and DOF.
Nicly done.

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