Swans on ice

I was out walking in the Pentlands Hills yesterday. They’re quite close to where I live and I particularly like it when there’s snow on the ground. Rather embarassingly, I’ve been aiming to go over one of the higher hills, which by most standards is still not very high. A couple of weeks ago, I turned back down too soon. Yesterday, I thought I’d gone over it, but when I got home I realised I’d turned down too soon again. At least it gives me an excuse to go out again.

The hills ring a reservoir which, yesterday, was mostly covered in ice. There were some swans sitting on the snow-covered ice, with the shadow of the hills running right behind them. It produced a rather surreal effect, which I tried to capture. I’m not sure I did it justice, but I quite like the photograph anyway.

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16 Responses to Swans on ice

  1. Joshua says:

    Did the shadows really look that blue to the naked eye, or is that somehow an effect of photography?

    When I first looked at the photo, I thought that was water behind them. Then I noticed that the shadows of the swans looked blue and thought that was odd, then I read your description that the area behind them was shadow, not water, and realized that it was blue shadows not water behind them also.

    Anyway, cool photo.

  2. Joshua,
    It was quite bright, so it may a looked a bit more washed out in reality, than it does in that photograph. Pretty close, though. I did adjust the brightness and contrast a bit. I’ve posted a slightly darker one below, but I think it probably looked a bit more like the one I included in the post.

  3. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Perhaps the brightness exaggerated the effect?

    . For example, outdoors on a sunny day, shadows can appear to be tinted blue. The shadows appear blue because the bright yellow light from the sun is blocked from the shadow area, leaving only indirect light and blue light from other parts of the sky.



  4. Joshua,
    Yes, quite possibly.

  5. Steven Mosher says:

    oh very nice. well done.

  6. JCH says:

    As aTTP photographs go, a Black Swan?

  7. Greg Wellman says:

    That’s a really good shot. Like the kind of picture that could make it into a nature calendar or similar.

    Yes, blue tinged shadows are a real thing, and the effect tends to be most pronounced in snowscapes. Google “snow blue shadows” for plenty of discussion. Here’s an extreme example: https://www.countryliving.com/life/a41343/baffling-reason-why-these-trees-have-blue-shadows/
    It’s something painters have to learn to paint realistic scenes. Another blue effect is atmospheric perspective: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/2010/11/landscapes-continuedatmospheric.html

  8. Pat Cassen says:

    “The swan on still Pentlands lake
    Float double, swan and shadow!”

    Very beautiful.

  9. David Bernard Benson says:

    A most impressive pix! Thank you.

  10. frankclimate says:

    Hi, it’s a good example for the scattering of blue light called rayleigh effect, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayleigh_scattering. In the end this is also climate related, the IR scattering with GHG-molecules is very similiar. Who doesen’t believe in this effect also doesen’t believe in the blue sky 🙂 Another example:

    This picture is made only with moonlight, the moon had about 15° elevation on the right. One can see that the direct reflected sunlight is also somewhat red and the night sky is not black but blue due to the scattering. The picture show 2 mounbounce antennas, we send the VHF to the moon and the reflected part which reaches the earth after about 2.5 seconds is enough for the partner-ham to detect our signal. I’m a ham…

  11. Yes, very sweet picture. We’ve got lots of Geese that hang out (seasonally) at a small reservoir not far from here. One of the things I’ve really come to love is when they fly in formation so low that we can hear their respirations with every wing beat. Quite the sound when multiplied by dozens – must have been incredible when there were hundreds and thousands in the air. Some day I’ll have the phone video ready to catch them before they actually fly overhead, rather than as they’re receding into the distance. ;- )

  12. BBD says:

    Good to see that they’ve got mucky necks, just like the ones down south. Presumably because they can’t preen their own necks?

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Just testing to observe whether or not I am always placed on “moderation” now.

  14. David,
    No, I think you must have been identified as a new commenter. Once the first comment is approved, the next should be automatically approved, unless they trigger one of the moderation terms.

  15. David B. Benson says:

    aTTP — Understood.

  16. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’ve always thought their necks were deliberately left oily and matted, because they’re always sticking their heads underwater.

    But then about the only thing I know about swans is that they can break your arm with their wings, Which apparently is an urban myth, at least according to Stephen Fry on QI (I’ve been watching reruns).

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