A Simple Solution to the Botched Pelican Composite « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Simple Solution to the Botched Pelican Composite

What’s Up?

Despite the relatively poor (for photography) weather forecast, I had fun down by the lake on Saturday morning and made a few nice images as well. I will share the full story in tomorrow’s blog post.

Condolences to blog-regular Anthony Ardito as his favored Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-35. The Eagles crushed KC in the first half that ended with Patrick Mahomes re-injuring his right ankle. I headed to bed early hoping to change the Chiefs karma. It worked. My heart was pounding for all of the fourth quarter as I watched the Chiefs amazing comeback on TIVO on Monday morning.

The second half was all Chiefs as coach Andy Reid’s team scored on every possession. The vaunted Eagles pass rush never laid a hand on Mahomes who was named the game’s MVP. And the Chiefs ran the ball well (158 yards) against the Eagles’ vaunted run defense. Patrick Mahomes carved up the Eagles’ secondary with his deadly accurate passing and ran for two key first downs on his injured leg including a 26-yard scramble/sprint up the middle to spark the game-winning drive.

Yesterday I posted: BTW, good luck to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in today’s Super Bowl game: Chiefs 38, Eagles 21. I apologize for missing the Eagle’s total. But I did nail the Chiefs winning point tally. πŸ™‚

Lastly, to Pardon the Interruption’s highly respected Michael Wilson, I say, Shut up! With their second Super Bowl win in four years, Mahomes and the Chiefs are now a dynasty of two. Wilson has relentlessly referred to Mahomes and Kansas City as “A dynasty of one.

Today is Monday 13 February 2023. I will be getting ready for my two upcoming trips. The first over to the west coast of Florida, the second to Homer, Alaska for the three Bald Eagle IPTs. The forecast for this morning is for cold, clear, and sunny with a NW breeze, a perfect morning to stay in and get some work done. This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes three hundred twenty-one days in a row with a new educational post. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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The plan is to continue to post every day until the streak reaches one year and one day and then posting every other day.

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Brown Pelican head throw sequence

Too Much Lens

A 600mm fixed focal length lens is a bit much when attempting to photograph single pelicans on the main cliff at La Jolla. Working with the bare 600mm lens on a tripod, I stayed as far back as possible from the birds on the ridge. You can see that in the first image above, I was (barely) able to fit the whole pelican in a vertical frame as it began a head throw. I knew that I needed to raise to lens to avoid clipping the bill tip. So that’s what I did. Note that in the subsequent frames I did indeed cut off the bird’s feet. So, I elected to add the ridge and the feet from the first blue-coded image to the second one. As many folks figured out in yesterday’s blog post, I added canvas on all four sides. I could have done a lot better by expanding the canvas in small, even tiny increments.

Several folks commented on the telltale “Clone Stamp marks.” I rarely if ever use the Clone Stamp Tool for image clean-up, and did not use it once when botching yesterday’s featured image. πŸ™‚
If I ever re-do the composite, I will post the surely improved version here.

The entire head throw sequence was completed in less than two seconds.

This image was also created on 12 January 2023 at La Jolla, CA. Standing at full height, I used the no-longer available (except from BIRDS AS ART) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 640. Exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open). AWB at 7:45:30 on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Expand Spot/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the larger version.

A cropped version of the Brown Pelican Pacific-race head throw image

The Simple Solution

As I pointed the lens up to avoid cutting off the end of the bill at the height of the head throw, I was not worried about cutting off the bird’s feet. I figured that I would simply execute a crop and create a tight head, bill pouch, and shoulders portrait. As above.

Please note that aside from the crop, not a single pixel was changed in the image above. Thus, the bill pouch was not “manipulated” in any way.

This all-new card includes images created on my JAN 2022 visit to San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2023/2024 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPTs

San Diego IPT #1. 3 1/2 DAYS: WED 27 DEC thru the morning session on Saturday 30 DEC 2023. $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: photographers.

San Diego IPT #2. 4 1/2 DAYS: TUES 9 JAN thru the morning session on SAT 13 JAN 2024: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

San Diego IPT #3: 4 1/2 DAYS: TEUS 23 JAN thru the morning session on SAT 27 JAN 2024: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

Please e-mail for information on personalized pre- and post-IPT morning sessions.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Ducks; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions (both depending on the current regulations and restrictions). And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

I discovered some really neat spots on my 2022/23 visit. As a result, the first and second IPTs may include an afternoon or two of landscape photography.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on exposure along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode so that you can get the right exposure every time (as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant). Or two seconds with SONY zebras … And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning, there is usually some excellent flight photography, at times with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of those opportunities. Depending on the weather, the local conditions, and the tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego. Each IPT will include one or two duck sessions.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

These IPTs will include four or five 3-hour morning photo sessions, three or four 1 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, and three or four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon shoot. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Deposit Info

A $699 deposit is required to hold your slot for one of the 2023/2024 San Diego IPTs. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due three months before the trip.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

2 comments to A Simple Solution to the Botched Pelican Composite

  • Anthony Ardito

    Thanks for the shout out, it was a good game right to the end! We could’ve done with out the fumble run back for a TD, or the bad holding call near the end allowing KC an easy FG. Without the fumble, Philly would be climbing the poles! We have to grease the light/traffic poles here…doesn’t stop ’em, lol!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Excuses, excuses, excuses. Shoulda woulda. As the Eagles coach said, it’s never one play or one bad call. The Chiefs trashed the Eagles in the second half. Where was the Philly pass rush? Where were their run stoppers? If Mahomes has not been hurt, the Chiefs would probably have scored 66 points!

      Don’t forget that it was Hurts who dropped the ball for no reason. And Philly got lucky on the non-catch/fumble as well. It was a great game.

      Sorry, pal πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

      ps: more on storage in tomorrow’s post.

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