Photo of a Pelican In Flight

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

A portrait of a California brown pelican in flight (Pelecanus occidentalis). I shot quite a few sharp, crisp pelican shots by handholding the 500mm recently. Normally I just use it on a Wimberley gimbel head since the lens and camera are so heavy, but that combination is sometimes awkward when tracking flying birds. It can be hard to swing the lens through a large arc and keep the focus spot on the subject while following a fast-flying bird. I have heard other photographers insisting they can shoot tack sharp images of birds in flight by handholding the 500mm so I decided to give it a shot, and surprised myself with how many of the images were razor. I’ll be handholding more often in the future I think.

Brown pelican spreads its enormous wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs.  Brown pelicans appear awkward but in fact are superb and efficient fliers, ranging far over the ocean in search of fish to dive upon.  They typically nest on offshore islands and inaccessible ocean cliffs.  The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican spreads its enormous wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs. Brown pelicans appear awkward but in fact are superb and efficient fliers, ranging far over the ocean in search of fish to dive upon. They typically nest on offshore islands and inaccessible ocean cliffs. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20017
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See: brown pelican photos.