Florida Brown Pelican captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 w/Z1.4x

Photographing birds in flight is such a challenge and such fun you just can’t help but go at it at every chance. There are some really, really fine images out there raising the bar as it should. So how do you get that flight shot you might want to share? There are some elements you need to incorporate to make the uncommon from the common. Let’s remove sharp as one of those elements because that’s mandatory, it’s gotta be sharp. We can do the same with exposure, both are given as a being present in the photo. So then what else?

The two elements you can have “control” over are light and background. And here is where your passion and talent can shine. The obvious element you need are the birds and when going for flight shots its helps that you have a predictable flight path. For example, birds flying into a rookery or a bird feeder. You need more than one flight in order to prefect every part of the photographic process. For this example I had food working for me. The Pelicans were feeding on a school of bait fish between Sunrise Bridge and North Fishing Pier in Florida. It’s a favorite haunt of mine and this evening the opportunity presented a very uncommon photo.

So evening, there is the light component for creating an uncommon photo. The background is the water which is common but what was reflecting this evening was not. The combination of clouds, fog, light and construction on the bride made an incredible pallet of colors. You can see below on the left the light quality on the pelican, it’s very nice light. You can see on the right the background which when in focus is not so nice. But when the pelicans took advantage of the ground effect and glided effortlessly over the water is when the combination of all the elements came together. The last element added to the photo was a slow shutter speed. It was 1/50 so there was a feel of “speed” to the photo. And with that, the photo was made. Keep an open mind as you follow your passion for bird photography. Look for the patterns, the elements and try it all when it makes sense. You never know when it all comes together even when it take a bridge.

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