Thursday, March 4, 2010

Eye to Eye

This photo of a brown pelican was taken last Saturday in Galveston. Originally, I was taking photos of a great white egret at this location, but a couple of pelicans came along and took control of this spot near a seafood shop. I couldn't resist -- I sat down and started taking photos; 30 minutes later I realized I had almost filled up a 4 GB card with 200 images of an egret and a couple of pelicans. Sometimes you get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect picture. I've always admired Steve Mayeux's photo of a brown pelican looking straight into the camera. So as I worked this situation I realized I didn't have the great early morning or later afternoon light so I shot at f/2.8 to throw the background out of focus. Seems like the older I get the more likely I am to shoot at shallow depths of field. As the pelican turned, I kept firing hoping I'd get one where he was looking straight on. The background is the water and backs of a couple of shrimp boats. Nikon D200, 140mm, 1/2000 sec at f/2.8; sharpened and cropped in Photoshop.


  1. I like the concept. For not having the "good" light of early morning or late afternoon the exposure is still very even and well done.

    I think it's lacking though, as a result of the eyes not showing any light. The eyes are usually key in any bird shot and they just seem to get lost in the photo.

    Steve's shot was in better light. He actually had the birds eyes lightened where they can be seen quite well in this photo The pelican in his shot had the head turned a little and the light came from a slightly different direction than your shot.

  2. Don't mean to run on with this one. I did try tweaking the eyes a little in LR2.6. I used the adjustment brush and a preset to tweak the eyes a little brighter. That did let them separate from his head a little better and make them more visible. Steve's bird had brighter eyes of a different color to help his photo more.

  3. I like the soft light on the pelican and the muted blues and browns. You would never know that background had shrimp boats in it. I do have trouble finding the eyes, as Doug mentions, so if there is something that can bring them out more, that would help. Surprisingly there is so much detail in his feathers and beak at f2.8. I really like the straight on angle, it is almost symmetrical yet the body coming in and curving around is really great.

  4. This is something a little un-nerving about a pelican look at you straight-on. Fine use of a different look for a very mature subject.