Sometimes making a good photograph is a matter of luck. Sometimes it’s a careful formula of knowing your subject, the lighting conditions, the time of year, and…luck! Luck was on my side this weekend when I visited a local lake and encountered a flock of American White Pelicans in magical golden light. These conditions lasted only a few minutes, but boy, it was worth the early morning wake-up call!
They call the early morning light “golden hour”, but the conditions here were very special. The rising sun reflected in the lake behind the birds. A strong wing made ripples in the water. The sun’s first rays illuminated my subject, who deigned to glance at my camera exactly once to allow me to make this shot.
Sunrise is apparently a good time to preen. Apparently this guy hadn’t quite opened his eyes yet. It was a cold windy morning and I don’t think he was ready to be awake yet!
The birds were lined up on a wall at the edge of the lake. Working quickly while the light conditions lasted, I zoomed out and tried to capture the movements of multiple birds. This shot doesn’t do justice to the general motion of a flock of birds at sunrise.
If you zoom in too much, you cut off the bill. If you zoom out, you get the neighbor’s wing or beak in the image. But when the bird looks at you, shoot first and think about composition later!
The gorgeous light was over in a heartbeat. Then the birds started to stretch their wings, hop down into the water, and begin to forage for their breakfasts.
Do you think they were comparing notes about the crazy photographer who braved the cold winds that morning? Craziness sometimes has fun rewards! :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Morton?
Check out my Lake Morton page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!