I've had a few people ask me what is so special about La Jolla when it comes to the California Brown Pelican. Of course, the Pelicans can be observed and photographed up in Northern California where I live, so why go all the way down to the San Diego area?
Photographically it comes down to three important factors:
- Accessibility - the Pelicans are easy to access and easy to get close without scaring them away.
- Background - when shooting on the cliffs of La Jolla, you can put the pacific ocean in the background which combined with its deep blue and relative distance to your subjects makes for a pleasing background.
- Eye level - With the numerous ridged areas, its easy to slip down into one of them to photograph Pelicans landing while being at completely eye level to them.
If the wind conditions are like they were for us on Sunday, its very easy to just sit there and get image after image of Pelicans with their wings spread or landing gear down like the image above.
The other thing that appeals to a lot of photographers is that its easy to make good images with modest gear. For example the images in this post were made with the Canon 400 f/5.6 and 70-200 lenses which when compared to their super-telephoto brethren are downright cheap. Even the modestly priced 70-300 should be able to give great images at this location. Of course the super telephotos will allow one to make images with a different look, just at the image I posted a couple of days ago and see how much smoother and more pleasing the background is.