Hokkaido Whooper Swans

In Hokkaido, Images, Postcards From..., Travel by David15 Comments

Since returning from Hokkaido it’s been a flurry of activity doing all those other things that fill our days so we can keep doing that thing we love – making photographs. That usually means I post a bunch of photographs immediately, and then nearly abandon you to posts about other things. I love those other things, and truthfully they’re what allows me to do all this. But I get very conscious when I’ve posted about an eBook, a couple new Within The Frame Adventures, and a new fine art book, all in such a short time. I love the idea of balance and pacing myself, I’m just not very good at it.

But now I’m home and my desk is cleared off a little. I’ve just put the rooftop tent back on the Jeep for the summer and another trip to the Canadian arctic and my mind’s gone back to Hokkaido and the time I spent with these Whooper Swans. Elegant and the picture of grace one moment, slapstick and clumsy the next, I made most of these lying on a sandy beach at the water’s edge, a tourist gift shop behind me up the shore a ways and piping Miles Davis out the speakers.  I’ve never done anything quite like this, and determined to show some of the grace of these birds, it took hundreds of frames to find settings that gave me a look that felt right. We should be so lucky to call this kind of thing “work.”

Tomorrow (April 04) I’ll post a few more of my photographs from my time with the Steller Sea Eagles.


  1. love yours pictures, its almost if i was there

    nice work 🙂

  2. Not an easy task to capture just the right amount of stop motion detail vs. fluttering softness to capture the feel of flight. Well done, David!

    1. I realize that one size doesn’t fit all, but did you find any particular settings that you used more consistently than others, to get the look that you desired?

      1. Author

        Hi Anna – My settings, in order, were:

        1/1600 @ f/7.1, 300mm
        1/60 @ f/11, 70mm
        1/50 @ f/10, 70mm
        1/80 @ f/9.0, 70mm
        1/1600 @ f/7.1, 300mm

        Somewhere around 1/60 seemed to be the sweet spot for turning that motion into something you could see. Anything much slower was too slow for me, and literally nothing was sharp. Hope this helps.

  3. There is something so magical about the way that you have captured the movement and (at times) grace of these birds. Stunning!

  4. Awaiting very eagerly for our whooper swans to migrate back to Finland for the summer. So cold now that they have not yet made the flight (at least not in big numbers). Such a beautiful bird to look and photograph.

    Love the landing photo!

  5. Nice pics. I love watching these birds too. A lot of them are currently chomping away in a nearby field taking on fuel for thir long flight home. Most have already left this part of Hokkaido – just the stragglers left.

  6. “Elegant and the picture of grace one moment, slapstick and clumsy the next…”

    Perfect description of the geese captured in these images. Love em’ especially the last one!

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