Pelican Love-in Diary - Andy's Supermoon

It's changeover day at Lake Kerkini between the two FotoBuzz groups so Andy has the day at leisure. But with the Supermoon happening it's mot a day of rest, see how he got on!

Note - this is an external free BLOG for anyone outside of FotoBuzz to read and enjoy. All this week I have been posting regular diaries to our members about our trip to Lake Kerkini and will do so for our second group too! For now though enjoy this free content and if you want to join us then you would be more than welcome, details at the end...

Well it's changeover day here at Lake Kerkini with group 1 leaving and group 2 arriving. I'm so knackered after group 1 that I did consider having the day to rest but I can do that when I'm back at home. Plus I knew that the supermoon would offer some good opportunities so I forced myself up and out first thing. I had the intention to shoot some video and sound recording, which is tough to do with a group, but as we got there I saw that the wind had other ideas and the smooth glass like surface I needed was gone. I've always had the attitude that if it's not worth shooting then there is no point flogging a dead horse so I curtailed it and went back to the hotel. I was feeling pretty rough with the flu that is going around so I decided to walk around the village in the warm sunlight, I'd been told that around 20 Little Owls lived in some of the old buildings so was keen to try my luck. An hour later I'd seen no Little Owls, had most of the village's dogs bark at me and was feeling much rougher so I decided enough was enough and gave in to zzzzzzzz...

The afternoon came and the wind had thankfully died so I ventured out at last light. I always prefer to shoot intensively for a short period in the light that I want, it really helps me focus on what I want to create. I had a vision in mind of a couple of shots that I wanted to try and my only goal was to do that...before greeting the arriving group 2 and photographing the supermoon.

So what as the plan? Check these out...

Using my Canon 11-24mm zoom and the flexibility of LiveView, I managed to get this ultra low angle shot whilst in the middle of the lake. I left it deliberately late to get the nice colours behind and in the sky, they just add something extra. The shape of the wings was just the way it happened, but like I always say you gotta be in it to win it. I like this a lot. After that it was time to just sit and wait, it was so nice bobbing around in a boat in the middle of a lake with just Captain Pelican and our little flock for company. It's so nice to connect with wildlife like this, all too often the silence is shattered by cameras so to be able to turn it off and breathe the fresh air was a wonderful moment. After a while the light really started to get nice so I set the 1DX2 to ISO 3200 and a WB of Shade. I have no issues shooting at high ISO as I only care about the final picture and not just the numbers, I know that Canon's DPP can handle the noise anyway. So we set off to find this specific patch of water that was in really incredible reflected light and here are some of the results (I've not enough time to process them all for here)...

Unfortunately something spoilt the reflection here, not really sure what it was, but anyway it's a nice shot with the wing position and the colours.

My good French client Alain, who is here with us in group 2, describes this as very erotic. I leave you to decide for yourself, the reflection is natural and was exactly the kind of weirdness that I wanted to get...

A lovely long reflection, reaching down to the bottom of the image and taking on a bendy shape. It's funky and I love it!

A variation on the above, this time you can see the fish in the bill as it's being turned round so it can be swallowed. A very interesting set of images that is really different from the norm here and that is something that I wanted. I hate taking the same as everyone else. So tonight I will be doing it again but this time for the benefit of the group. That's my job as a tour leader, to inspire and push the boundaries.

After that the light failed and it was time to setup for the supermoon. My group had arrived and were already setup on the shore, I first made sure everyone really boosted their ISO and exposure compensation as the last thing you need is an underexposed high iso image. Then we waited. I setup my tripod with the great Flexline Pro head, this would give me a lot of flexibility and stability, I could move it and shoot without locking up, something vital for this kind of photography. It's a cool piece of kit! So the moon arrived!!!

ISO 12,800 this one, I shot freely without lockup using LiveView and focussing on the Pelican nearest the moon reflection. I like to compartmentalise images like this but I am rubbish as "setups" i.e. when I know something is going to happen and that I have to get it. I'm much better at adhoc unexpected photography that is for sure.

With this one I moved the tripod slightly to get the rays and Pelicans closer together, I think it works well.

The final image of the sequence shot with the 100-400 in NO light, I set an ISO of 25,600 on the 1DX2 and selected all AF points. It worked! DPP removed the noise to an acceptable level and the Pelican obliged by lifting it's beak enough to get some separation.

So there you go. A brief insight into what our FotoBuzz members get when I am travelling. This is only a small percentage of FotoBuzz, you can check out everything else below. We are basically a community for like minded people who like to take pictures and socialise with each other either online or at conferences and meetups. I hope that you enjoyed this and if you'd like to join us then details are below. Members just post your tech questions in the comments / lounge and I will do my best to answer them!

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