much too close for a pelican

A flock of Pelicans flew over the slough this morning at 11am, the Sun was in a good position to make taking pictures a bit tricky. For starters the flock was overhead which means an abundance of belly shots, tail shots and waiting for one to fly down towards me. But then as they are flying in my direction the focus on the beak and head meld together into an out of focus fuzzy round thing with a blurry yellow tip.

Patience is the strategy, lots of it waiting for the bird to make a slight downward flight to expose enough of the top to appear somewhat eye level. It is kind of successful, the image above is a bit high on the wing closest to this side. It would be interesting for someone with experience operating a drone to fly above them to take a few. I’ve seen some videos shot that way, mostly flying along side Geese. I’m confident someone has chosen it as their specialty to photograph. I have a drone but I’ve never flown it, my excuse is the wind the real reason is I haven’t figured it out yet.

This image is way out of whack but it seems to work just fine as it appears to be in a turn; which it is. For some reason they turn away from me most of the time. If one turned towards me exposing its top it would appear as if I was above it. Or maybe not, I’m not sure because it’s never happened.

This photo is not from today, it was taken a month ago. The natural way to get an eye level shot is to actually be eye level. With these high flyers the easiest is to wait until they land in the water. Even that has its difficulties however, the photographer has to be in the right spot at the right time. Isn’t that one of the two age old concerns; correct lighting and luck to be in the correct spot at the correct time.

This image is about as above the bird I am able to be, I’m on top of the levee on the near side. The Pelicans eyes are even with the top edge of both sides. That puts me about 24 inches above its head which I can manipulate a bit by bending over slightly. I have another advantage, I am on my mobility scooter placing me a total of 3 feet above the ground.

I am now concentrating on composition as well, that can be tough with so much going on while photographing flying birds. I suppose to complicate it manual focus could be thrown into the mix. But for me Aperture Priority is the correct setting, I choose the f-stop and ISO the camera sets the shutter speed. It’s good because I am not capable of manually adjusting the focus while following a flying animal; I’d like to meet the person who can. It’s not that manually focusing is any harder than AV priority on static subjects, it’s actually quite simple. In my case I am not able to focus on the run nearly as good as the camera does.

Jacques Lebec Flutter Shutter

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