brown pelican

The Many Looks of the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego California Photo Story

The Many Looks of the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego California Photo Story

The Ocean Beach Pier Changes Day by Night

Over the course of seven days staying in the Ocean Beach community in San Diego, California I went to visit the Ocean Beach Pier several times. It looked and felt different each time. I was there for a brilliant sunset. I was there as a storm approached. I was there when the pier was nearly completely empty, and when it was filled with people. I met a pelican. I walked it, and I rode a Bird (electric scooter) down it. I listened to the stories the ocean whispered as it passed under and around the pier.

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Florida Fine Art Photography - Pelican Texture Composite

This is a composite of two images, with a texture abstract photo blended over a pelican photo.I have a folder of abstract and texture photographs I keep for when I want to make composite images like the one above.  It is fun sometimes to spice up an image by combining two (or more) photographs in a complementary way.  

A blurry photo of a bookshelf was overlayed onto the photo of the pelican in Photoshop.  I just adjusted the opacity of the book case photo down a little and set the blending mode to Overlay.  Then I layer masked a little of the bookshelf image off of the pelican to make the pelican look cleaner.  Digital Photography School has a good tutorial on how to do this if you would like to try it yourself!

Photography Tip - fill the frame corner to corner - Florida Pelican Fine Art Photography

Fill the frame corner to corner to make an impact with composition - brown pelican St. Petersburg Florida Fine Art Photography - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th

At any given moment, you can find a brown pelican to photograph in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  Chances are you already have numerous pelican photos in your archives.  This can be said for any number of common subject matters.  So how to make such a common subject stand out?  One way is to use a more creative composition, like having the subject fill the frame corner to corner.  Use the shape of the subject to fill the frame in the most complementary way.  For the pelican, with it's long narrow head, going diagonal corner to corner allows for filling the frame with the subject.  Also, going through the edges of the frame creates a very different impression than fitting everything inside (with any subject it also helps to have a good, clean, complementary background; in the above photo the dark water of Tampa Bay combined with the large aperture I chose creates a smooth, gray bokeh).

When you go out shooting next time look for a subject that you can frame corner to corner.  

Brown Pelican on a Post in St. Petersburg Florida Bird Photography

Is this comfortable? Must be to this brown pelican - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250thAt the edge of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg Florida perched seemingly not so precariously on a narrow post I found this brown pelican relaxing.  To human eyes, this does not look like perhaps the greatest and/or safest of resting spots, but pelicans obvioiusly think otherwise.  

Colorful pelican profile views St. Petersburg Florida fine art photography

Brown Pelican looking very colorful in profile St. Petersburg Florida fine art photography - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 ISO 200 1/4000thSome more examples of one of my favorite subjects to photograph in St. Petersburg, Florida -- brown pelicans.  The males, like the one featured here, are actually rather colorful in their plummage.  I thought the line of buoys in the background matched the colors around the bird's beak and eyes.  

Brown Pelican looking eye-to-eye in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 ISO 200 1/4000thPhotographing a pelican straight on always produces a weird looking shot.  It kind of makes me uncomfortable even now looking at the pelican in the eye!

Brown Pelican White Background Florida Fine Art Nature Photography

Brown Pelican photographed in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/800th white background enhanced in Photoshop

Living in St. Petersburg there is ample opportunity to photograph brown pelicans about as close up as you dare.  For the most part, the pelicans themselves are not that bothered about a long lens being pointed at them and seem to tolerate it, though I would not go so far as to say they like it.  I wanted to make some fine art pelican images with white backgrounds by purposefully over exposing the shots when I made them in the field, or in this case the St. Petersburg Pier.  I cleaned up the white backgrounds digitally in Photoshop as needed.

Brown Pelican awash in daylight - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/400thShooting in bright light makes it easy to overexpose the images on purpose by using a large aperture along with a relatively slow shutter speed and shooting into the sun.  

Closeup of a brown pelican - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/1250thSince I was shooting at a focal length of 200mm with a brown pelican standing right next to me, I saw it as an opportunity to photograph details of a pelican, rather than the entire bird, as seen in the above shot focused on the pelican's eye and upper beak texture.  

Brown Pelican One Wing Out St. Petersburg Florida wildlife photography

Brown Pelican (male) at The Pier in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/7.1 ISO 200 1/800th shutter priorityBrown Pelicans are very curious birds to me.  Here in St. Petersburg Florida you can get up very close to them, basically stand right next to them at some places.  As they are a large bird it feels pretty cool to be able to get so close to a large wild animal.  Plus, they always look like they are looking back at you thinking something (probably do you have any snacks?).  

The male brown pelican above caught my eye because I had never seen a pelican hold out just one wing to dry before like he was doing.  It seemed an odd thing to do when presumably trying to balance on top of a tall piling as he was.