My Photo Journal: Giselle or A Swan at the Toronto Zoo

"Giselle" straight out of camera (SOOC)

Swans have a long history in many world cultures, usually known to represent beauty, purity, perfection and grace. In Greek mythology, the swan is associated with Aphrodite and is a symbol of chastity. The Celts believed swans were benevolent deities and would forge their images into silver medallions that could be worn around the neck for protection. Swans are also revered in Hinduism, and compared to saintly persons who have attained great spiritual capabilities.

These elegant birds can pair for years, and are often a symbol of love or fidelity because of their long-lasting, apparently monogamous relationships. I took a picture of this swan at our last family outing to the Toronto Zoo on Saturday, April 9. It seemed quite lonely and sad, and reminded me of the heroine in the ballet Giselle (who wasn't a swan but rather a peasant girl who had met an untimely death). It's fairly uncommon to see a lone swan here in Ontario - we've mostly seen them in twos, threes or a whole flock and we were hoping to perhaps glimpse its companion but none appeared in the half hour or so that we were meandering around the stream. As we headed towards the parking lot, I saw it drift into a clump of bushes with plaintive cries. It was quite heartbreaking! I like to imagine it finding a mate, and living happily ever after. Foolishly sentimental, perhaps but as Voltaire said, "Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination."

The SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) shot was post-processed in Photoshop CS4 with the following recipe:
(1) Assign Profile to Adobe RGB 1998
(2) Florabella Textures III --> Seaside (Flip vertical, Multiply @ 50%).
(3) Flypaper Textures, Spring Painterly pack --> Ovid Banished (Flip horizontal, Lighten @ 75%)
(4) Flypaper Textures, Spring Painterly pack --> Ovid Banished (Multiply @ 25%)
(5) Flypaper Textures, Spring Painterly pack --> Apple Moss (Multiply @ 75%)
(6) Photoshop -> Levels and Curves adjustment
(7) Added back Apple Moss @ Multiply 30% at this point because the image looked a bit too light and faded, and just re-boosted the colors/contrast with some tweaking in Levels

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