Transformation: Turning an Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan, Second Example

March 31, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It was a beautiful day in Wisconsin and I thought I would drive around the area to see if there was anything interesting at any of the local parks along the river.  One park nearby is noted for its birdlife so I headed over to Thousand Island Nature Center in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

Although a beautiful day, it was a tad cold.  There were pockets of ice along the banks of the river. When I approach the river, I wasn't sure I would find any waterfowl.  And, I am using a new camera and wasn't totally positive if I was using the various controls correctly.  So, in essence, I was experimenting and expecting to have many so-so photos, or what I call "ugly ducklings".

When I downloaded the photos at home, I was very encouraged by the quality of my photos.  I was intrigued by this particular photo.  There was something about it that was speaking to me.  Something about the male and female and colors and bills close to the water.  I liked this image quite a bit, especially the colors, the catch-light in both male and female eyes, the subtle reflection in the water.  But what I saw in front of me just didn't intuitively capture what I was sub-conscious contemplating when I captured the moment.


PAD March 27 Threes a crowdPAD March 27 Threes a crowd

So, I thought about some simple transformations that would change my perspective about this photo and get it closer to what I envisioned.  But first, before I did any editing, I wrote a short love letter about the photo.  The love letter talked about the relationship between the two birds, the loveliness of the day, being together.  I just let my pen float across the page, with no editing, just free form, stream of conscious writing.


Then, I took a short break.  Took a walk near by and just cleared my head a bit.  After being refreshed and a bit renewed, I came back to that photo and associated love letter and started to underline words and phrases that struck me in the love letter when I looked at my original image.  Slowly, I started editing on my computer with a renewed sense of where I might go with this photo and how I might change it.


What the love letter suggested to me was to really concentrate on the two faces.  So, I did a couple of different crops just to see what they would look like.

PAD March 27 Closer yetPAD March 27 Closer yet This was one of the first crops that I did.  I also used a bit of Topaz Detail to bring out some of the water droplets.  I re-read the love letter, looked at the photo, and tried one more very close crop.


PAD March 27 Extreme Close-Up of Two DucksPAD March 27 Extreme Close-Up of Two Ducks This photo really represented what I was intuitively looking for.  I liked the emphasis on the two heads and what it represents about close relationships with a blend of the symmetry of the heads with the contrasting colors of male and female; similar, but different.   

What amazes me about this transformation is that in most circumstances, I would have stayed with the first photo.  Something was telling me, intuitively, that I could do more and ponder the image's meaning if I spent more time with it.  To me, this is all about transforming a so-so image into something more.  Using the creative device of writing a love letter allowed me to see the photo with a different set of eyes and with a different frame of emotions.  This is all about turning an "ugly duckling" into a "beautiful swan", where the swan represents an experiential expression of the photographed moment.



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