I stopped near Charlo, Montana at the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets during my entire trip. There were all kinds of birds resting in the grasses and waters in the reserve, including these beautiful swans pictured here.
To photograph birds, you have to stay one step in front of them (figuratively and literally). Photo tip: Before you even set up for the shot, make sure your camera is dialed to autofocus tracking and a high ISO setting to allow for a fast shutter speed because birds move quickly and you have to watch for their small movements. Do they seem agitated? Are they getting ready to take off? For this shot, I could see their distinctive heads bobbing which signaled to me that they were about to fly. Then I was able to capture this beautiful shot of the swans practically walking on water as they took off for flight.
Jonathan Irish is a professional photographer and Director of Programs for National Geographic Adventures.