Its been cold lately. I mean really cold. By southern standards, its been arctic cold. And as you would expect when temperatures plummet to below freezing for several days, everything has been frozen solid. In regards to waterfowl, this means that instead of being spread out across a large area of great habitat, the birds are concentrated into pockets of open water. This of course can be good, or it can be bad. If I were photographing in a waterfowl impoundment in this situation, like any duck hunter, I would be in the water/ ice an hour and a half before sunrise breaking up a big hole right in front of my blind. But considering lake Mattamsukeet is off-limits as far as getting into the water this time of year, if you don’t have access to an open hole, you can pretty much forget about all the best places for photographing swans.
With all of that said however, one thing most people never get to see is how that when ice has formed along side of the causeway, this ice will light up on fire at sunrise. Now this presents a number of options photographically. You can of course make abstract shots with the patterns of colors in the ice – which you can see in the photos I have included; you can try to workout a landscape with the colors of sunrise and silhouettes of cypress trees, or you can patrol the causeway to try and find an open pocket of water which will most assuredly have swans and ducks standing around on the ice next to it.
Sitting along the southeastern edge of the causeway was the mother load of ducks, geese, and swans. a large pocket of open water extended up along the bank here where food is most plentiful. Once I located this place – before sunrise of course – it was then simply a matter of trying to find compositions of birds that would look well silhouetted against the orange ice and then waiting for the sun to rise and then the birds to move around a bit.