Trumpeter Swans of Southwestern Montana

Trumpeter Swan cygnet in MontanaTrumpeter Swan cygnet in Montana – Nikon D810, f9, 1/2500, ISO 400, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

It is supposed to be 98°F here in Salt Lake City today but there are signs that fall is just around the corner. High up in the mountains the trees have just started to change color, in the valley and marshes the Canada Geese have started to flock up, migrating shorebirds are moving through and on a few recent mornings I have felt enough of a nip in the air that I am considering switching from my hiking sandals to my warmer hiking boots for early morning journeys into the field. All of this made me think of my last trip up to Montana in mid September of last year how wonderful it felt to be transported to fall in a little over 350 miles.

One of my favorite photo sessions of that trip last fall was an evening spent with the Trumpeter Swans of southwestern Montana in gorgeous evening light.

Centennial Valley Trumpeter Swan adultCentennial Valley Trumpeter Swan adult – Nikon D810, f11, 1/1000, ISO 400, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There was a cooperative family of Trumpeter Swans on Elk Lake close to the shoreline feeding, preening and resting. Trumpeter Swans are challenge to photograph because of their snow white plumage but the light that evening was nearly perfect to capture their whites and the deep blue of the alpine lake without over exposing.

The adults were a tiny bit more wary than the cygnets but as a parent I understand, I kept a close eye on my sons when I felt I needed to do so and the adult swans did too that evening.

Centennial Valley Trumpeter Swan cygnetCentennial Valley Trumpeter Swan cygnet – Nikon D810, f9, 1/2500, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The cygnets fed close to the adults and gave me plenty of opportunities to photograph them out on the water of the lake without obstructions. I don’t get to photograph this species in Utah often although a few stray down here during the winter so whenever I get the chance to photograph them in the Centennial Valley I take advantage of the opportunity.

Life is good.



  1. Elephant's Child August 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I can’t tell you how exotic white swans look…

  2. Carol August 30, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Beautiful pictures. They look so peaceful and serene.

  3. Bob McPherson August 30, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Absolutely gorgeous photos, Mia.

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