Pelicans are huge birds with a massive wingspan! I encountered a problem in that in order to photograph the pelican in flight, I needed to use a short focal length, thereby ensuring that I did not clip the wings. This resulted in numerous images that lacked the intimacy I like to portray in my work. Pelicans in flight are however wonderfully graceful and I just had to capture an ‘in flight’ frame? They are also superbly beautiful when inspected close-up and this beauty was lost at shorter focal lengths? The only way to solve this conundrum was to photograph a close-up image, with a flying pelican in the background!
Pelicans are quite simply MASSIVE. As photographers, we are also storytellers and I was faced with the challenge of portraying the size of a pelican?
The best way to do that was to place my subject against another common and well known bird. A Black-winged Stilt kindly volunteered its services and I waited for the outstretched wings to exaggerate the pelican’s size. For an image to be special, you need that ‘something special’! As hard as we try, those rare ‘cherries on top’ often cannot be manufactured. The dynamic element in this particular frame came in the form of water droplets looking like a snowstorm to the stilt. A black and white conversion accentuates the water droplets.
Photography is after all an art form and our subjects are often moving. Here I purposefully used a slow shutter speed and allowed my two subjects to paint a frame of their own. A burst from my flash adds a much needed element of detail and allows a resting point for my viewer’s eye.
By Greg du Toit
All images © Greg du Toit Photographic & Safaris
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