California Pelican


For comparison with just a smidgen of head turn and the eye towards me but not as colorful a bird

This image was taken a few weeks ago in San Diego while the pelicans come to shore in breeding plumage. I’m not sure how long the breeding colors last but I went two weekends in a row. I found this one particularly colorful bird just sitting on a rock letting me photograph him. This was the only bird I found that was shootable and having all of the colors on the head and neck. I wish he looked my way to give me a little bit of a head turn but he never did. These birds land on the cliff faces and protruding rocks along the shoreline so there is always a nice blurred out water background.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I like my bird images to have some head turn towards me so I’m wondering if this image works or not. He has beautiful plumage but there is no hint at any eye contact. I guess I’m wondering if it feels a little bit sterile or not.

Technical Details

Z9, 100-400mm lens @400mm. ISO 400, 1/800, f6.3 manual mode, hand held

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Outstanding, David! I don’t really think it needed any head turn, as this might well have obscured parts of the bird close to its bill, parts we should see to get this wonderful impression. In fact, I feel he is looking at me, but then I wasn’t there to get the complete stare! I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Fantastic capture, David! All those colors and detail are just perfect, IMHO. The pose seems to fit the bird. I also have the feeling he does see me. Great shot.

Hello, I definitely enjoying seeing the colour and full beak of the bird, its very graphic. Very fun!

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@Mike_Friel , @linda_mellor , @Robena.Sirett …thank you for your comments and for taking the tie to have a quick look.

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@Keith bower, thank you very much!