One More Pelican

Following this blog is like driving a little too fast downhill on a winding road–you’re somewhat out of control, unsure of what’s next and worried about the brake job you got at Sears. This will slow you down:

Since I’ve posted on photographing pelicans last week, I thought I add a final touch. If possible, go where the pelicans hang out in large numbers. One such locale is this very unusual spot where the Carmel Bay/Pacific Ocean meets the Carmel River. The river and ocean are usually separated by about 200 feet of beach except in the winter when rains swell the river and it runs into the ocean. Regardless, the pelicans hang out in the river by the beach for a bit before flying to the nearby ocean to catch whatever. They go back and forth throughout the day. So, the photographer simply stands on the beach and waits for this migration. DSC_0411 - CopyThe photo on the left is from Sunday of this week. As I’ve noted before, it is easy to catch the bird on a side view, the underneath shots that accentuate the wing span are a challenge.

If I were showing someone how to take stop action photos, I’d start with pelicans. You simply can’t point and shoot—most of your shots will be slightly out of focus. They are a gliding bird but go faster than you think. Their flight patterns are easy to predict. Pick a point ahead of where you think they will go, get a focal point—wait until you can see them through the lens, then focus again. You will probably only get two good shots before they are out of focus.

Most of my pelican shots are over the ocean, usually with a background of blue sky. The one I took Sunday has houses in the background–makes the shot a little busy but different. Also, when the pelicans fly from the river, they are usually going against the wind which slows their flight and that gives you a better chance to focus properly.

Try to have the sun behind you and hitting the pelican to show off its colors. Too many photos I’ve seen have the bird in focus but on a cloudy, low light day you get gray features, not bright colors.

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