Brown Pelican in Flight

Brown Pelican edit
Brown Pelican edit
Brown Pelican original
Brown Pelican original

I captured this image of Brown Pelican in flight at sunset near Westport WA.


There were dozens of Brown Pelicans flying and landing on a rock jetty. As normal, the birds where taking on and landing into the wind and from my position I could only shoot shoot the birds at a 90° to the sun. The bright white belly of the bird was being illuminated by the sun and the darker wing feathers were in the shadows. I took a few test shots of some of the flying birds to make sure the I highlights of the delicately barred belly feathers were not getting clipped. However, I knew that I would have to brighten the rest of the bird in post.


Pelicans are unique looking birds to say the least. They have long bills, thick bodies and large wings. When viewed from the side the pelicans looked compressed and awkward against the bland sky. I waited until this particular bird was about to land on the jetty with the blue water of bay in the background. I froze the motion as the bird was using its wings to slow down and its feet were outstretched getting ready to land on the jetty.


In post, I lightened the back of the bird, darkened the water and increased the saturation to match what the scene looked like at the time.


Camera Settings

Exposure Bias Value: 0.3

Exposure Program: Aperture priority

Exposure Time: 1/2000

FNumber: 7.1

Focal Length: 600 

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