Flashback Friday: Pelicans flying over the Sea of Cortez
It has been a couple of years since I went to Cabo San Lucas. Thinking about an image for Flashback Friday, one from a spectacular sunrise there came to mind. The fiery sky had me thinking about where to set up for a landscape shot when I saw a brief of brown pelicans flying low over the water. I switched to my camera with a telephoto lens attached and watched as they rose off the water. This let their silhouettes contrast sharply from the background. That got me excited and I squeezed off a couple of photos before they dropped down again and continued southwards.
If you are interested in seeing a few more images like this one, here is another photo from the same flight which I posted that morning in December 2014. And, another post where one pelican flew very close to me a couple of days later and I isolated the lone bird against the sky and the rising sun.
A few minutes later, I returned to landscape hunting and was not disappointed in any way with what nature laid out before me.
A Cabo dawn on the rocks
When we were in Los Cabos last December, we were able to enjoy beautiful sunrises almost every day. This morning’s dawn was a favourite and I was out early to catch the sun rising out of the Sea of Cortez at these fingers of rock that I had scouted a few days earlier.
Sunrise and pelican silhouettes
One morning on couple of Brown pelicans were fishing close to the rocks where I was perched. This started before dawn and lasted through sunrise. There were a few great moments to silhouette one against the early sky.
The clouds changed moods swiftly through the morning. It was a very nice moment on a beautiful stretch of the coastline a few miles east of Cabo San Lucas.
Along the coast in Los Cabos, I often came across fishermen casting among the rocks before sunrise. We would exchange greetings on passing by but they, like me, seemed intent on what they were about and enjoying the quiet the comes with the early morning.
I liked making the occasional photograph with them silhouetted against the colourful sky as they provided an interesting element to these beautiful scenes.
El Tule Sunrise
During our stay in Los Cabos last month, each day started with beautiful mornings as the sun rose out of the Sea of Cortez. This stretch of coastline between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas has great rock outcrops wrapped with honey coloured sand. This cove was a few minutes walk from our patio and was a fun place to play and hunt for seashells with the kids during the day. Before dawn, I had it all to my self and it was magic.
Egret on the rocks
This Great egret (Ardea alba) stepped around the point and into view from the rocks where I was photographing.
After a short pause, she flew across a small gap and began fishing. The head cocks back and then strikes into the water, rarely coming up without a fish.
At home I photograph the Great blue herons frequently which is in the same family as egrets. Their mannerisms are very similar as is their size. The white feathers are the most obvious difference and I love shooting them against the blues of the water and the warm hues in the rocks.
In flight, I find them particularly alluring and this bird flew between several outcrops affording me great opportunities to watch.
Under the stars with Kian
My son and I spent a couple of hours down on the beach watching the stars and playing around with some longer exposures. It was a beautiful night made infinitely better with him there.
On the rocks with a Brown Pelican
Brown Pelicans are frequent fliers just above the waves all around Los Cabos. I love watching them glide and I had a special encounter one morning when we were staying near Cabo San Lucas in December. Just before sunrise down on the beach near Punta Cabeza De Ballena, east of Cabo, when one landed on rocks near the shore close to me. This pelican came in when it was still pretty dark but there was enough light to make the landing a good photo opportunity.
In the two images above, I brought out some detail by bringing up the shadows in post. Below, I went the other way and deepened the shadows to create a solid silhouette of the pelican.
This fellow flew off before the sun came up. I had hoped he would stay as the sun was at an angle where the sun would be backlighting the feathers which I thought would look beautiful.
Even though he left a bit early for me, it was great when it flew close to the waves in between the rocks and the crests of the waves as it passed me by.
As the sun came up so too did the tide. The waves were breaking around the rocks where the pelican had rested which looked beautiful. I was really happy when another pelican came in and landed very close to the original one’s spot. With the sun and sea spray, it was a great scene to photograph. The first image in this set was from this point in the morning.
The second pelican stayed for a little while and then took off allowing for a nice launch photograph and then headed over the waves in the opposite direction from the first pelican.
A Curious Cormorant
When we were in Cabo San Lucas in early December, I saw many cormorants flying past our beach. They fly low and fast with little deviation from a straight line past the shore. The odd one would dive under to fish but our location did not seem to be a great spot for a meal. One morning, I was watching for Brown Pelicans, who will occasionally land quite close by, when a juvenile Brandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) popped up on a rocky shelf about 30 meters away.
It looked at me for a second, started shaking off the water and then set to preening its feathers. I was thrilled to see one of these birds closeup. From afar, they appear to be completely black. With this opportunity, I was able to see the different shading in the feathers and the lighter shading around the face.
That was interesting for me but the location made the images even better than the close proximity. It had chosen a dynamic spot where the waves were breaking close behind it, one even crashed right on the bird. The water droplets from the cormorant’s shaking, the sea spray and warm morning sunlight as well as some nice looks from my new friend made for a really great encounter.
This fellow preened again for a few minutes after this and a couple of other waves crashed. Then it flew off the rock down to the water. I left it swimming and diving for fish.
A few mornings off Punta Cabeza De Ballena
Canon 5DIII + 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm: 8 seconds at f/16 on ISO 200
When we were in Los Cabos last week, we stayed just off the water near Punta Cabeza De Ballena which is east of Cabo San Lucas. Facing east, the sun rose out of the Sea of Cortez every morning. With my wife’s graceful blessing, I was on the beach before dawn almost every day. These are a few of the different faces the coast presented over the week.
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm f/4 lens at 25mm: 120 seconds at f/16 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm f/4 lens at 17mm: 8 seconds at f/22 on ISO 200
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm f/4 lens at 17mm: 20 seconds at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm f/4 lens at 17mm: 6 seconds at f/22 on ISO 200
Canon 5DIII + 24-105mm f/4 lens at 67mm: 4 seconds at f/22 on ISO 100
Canon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens: 1/15 of a second at f/9 on ISO 100
Canon 5DIII + 24-105mm f/4 lens at 40mm: 0.6 seconds at f/22 on ISO 100
Mexican dawn in Los Cabos
Bobbi and I are in Cabo san Lucas with our children for a nice break from winter. We left just before a heavy blizzard so we were lucky with the timing. The mornings have been spectacular here as we are located on a lovely stretch of sand where the sun climbs out of the Sea of Cortez right in front of us. On this morning the silhouette of a fellow sunrise watcher tied the glowing pastels in the sky ahead of dawn to the rippled reflections and the beach.