February 2011



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Two Flying 2















 Additional images of the Pelicans can be viewed here.


It's been a few years since I've been able to capture pelicans flying over the cliffs in La Jolla.  I'm sure they were flying there but just not when I was there.  Weather conditions may have also been a factor. Images that might be a slam dunk one year are scarce the following year.  In short, things change. 


This year, on the 4th day of shooting, a Sunday, there was a mild Santa Ana wind condition. As the pelicans prepared to land on the cliffs in front of us, the wind caught their wings and they literally floated to their landing spot.  This is ideal for photographing the pelicans in flight. 


 It was great while it lasted but the wind spiked and dozens of pelicans and hundreds of gulls and Cormorants took flight all at once to escape the blowing dust.  In the end, all the photographers were looking at a barren cliff, total devoid of any birds.  The photography was great while it lasted.  The following weekend, the winds had calmed down, the weather was calm, and there were literally more photographers than pelicans on the cliffs, not an uncommon event.  You have to see the humor in this!


I shoot off to the side of the vast majority of other photographers as they like to photograph the pelicans closer to the water and often prefer to shoot up towards the sky.  I like to shoot the pelicans as they cruise the adjacent cliffs just south of my location.  Of course, photographers with Canon equipment seemed to be more prevalent as a battery of Canon DSLR's were whizzing away everywhere. 


Pelicans are great subjects, especially in January when the males exhibit their mating colors, the intense red and yellow on their heads. This is what most photographers are attempting to capture.   I also like the less colorful females due the patterns of browns that enhance their bodies.  These guys are very graceful, especially flying against the wind over the cliffs.


Image shot with a 300-800 F5.6 zoom mounted on a carbon fiber tripod with Gimbal head. I did use a 12 megapixel cropped frame DSLR camera.