It’s been a crazily busy start to the year but I’m now managing to do a bit of catching up with the post processing: sometimes it’s not a bad idea to do this a few weeks after the event so to speak as I find I am able to be a little more detached from the experience and objective about the images I select for processing.
In late January I enjoyed an all too short but extremely enjoyable 4 day trip to Lake Kerkini in northern Greece to concentrate on photographing the Dalmatian Pelicans there, a trip on which I was helped by my good friend Emil Enchev, an excellent Bulgarian-based wildlife photographer.
At this time of year these exotic looking birds, who enjoy an unusually friendly relationship with the local fisherman as you can see above (unlike the Cormorants who regularly get chased away from their nets) are coming into their breeding plumage and colours and become exceptionally tolerant and curious of people – especially when there’s the possibility that said fisherman might be sharing some of their catch with them!
The most noticeable change comes in the coloration of their pouch which takes on a truly vivid orange colour quite unlike any other Pelican species that I’ve photographed before. As one group gathered just offshore on the first morning though I couldn’t help but notice the other plumage change in the form of their head feathers which seems to grow both excessively and chaotically at the same time.
As the morning’s wind blew it was clear that they struggled to keep their feathers under control!
It did however add a certain something to their character and personality though which was becoming more apparent as I worked on more intimate close-up portraits: the bright orange contrasting with their almost curly feathers provided lots to work with both in the foreground as as a splash of colour in the background too.
A year previously I spent some time photographing Brown and White Pelicans respectively in Florida and had noticed that the way they hold their heads has a huge impact on just how they come across – beak down and they look menacing but lift it up and they look much more friendly – a contrast that really stands out in these next two tight portraits of the same bird just a few moments apart.
The comical side of their nature was never more evident though when they gathered close to the shore as the fisherman looked to throw some remnants of their catch into the water for them – at which point all hell would break loose as they fought to grab a single fish.
There have been a number of high profile images of this behaviour taken in the last couple of years and as dramatic as it is, from a personal perspective I found myself much more drawn to the tranquil scenes and photographic opportunities that involved a single bird and which the bright overcast conditions really complimented, especially when they continued to throw in a little “look” with their almost foppish hairstyles at the same time!
I really enjoy this type of photography – one subject in one location and offering an array of options to build a mini-portfolio that does them justice as it does lead to a more interesting set of images than racing around constantly. I look forward to enjoying more time with these dandy Dalmatians again soon!