Sea Gulls

Last weekend I did a trip to the island of Sylt, Germany's northernmost island in the North Sea. I spent the two days nearly completely at the beach, walking around, relaxing and, of course, shooting photos. From the mass of photos I took, I will present some of the best in several separate posts, each dealing with one specific topic. The topic of this first post is Sea Gulls.

Sea Gulls are one remarkable kind of birds. The are so artistic when gliding in the stormy coastal wind and simultaneously looking around in search for some food. They look so elegant both in the air and on the beach.

All the photos where taken with my new EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L zoom lens. I started with my standard zoom lens, but shortly switched to that one. Because it is quite difficult to change lens with that heavy item I kept it all the remaining time. The camera was set to aperture mode (Av) with an aperture of f/8 for most of the photos. Others were taken in P mode with automatic calculation of aperture and shutter speed. Due to the sunny weather I chose an ISO value of 100.

The two sea gulls in this first photo have chosen a higher place on top of a "Strandkorb", a typical German hooded beach seat. From that position they can overlook the scene and they do it carefully in search for some tourists preparing or eating some food. The birds are very concentrated with this.
In that photo I like how the left bird clearly separates from the blurred background, but the right one somehow merges with it by being blurred as well. The birds look very concentrated. The sun light from the back points out their shape which supports that look.

This closeup portrait of a sea gull I'm very proud of. I love the colours but first of all the clearness. You can see every feather, especially the tiny ones around the beak are fantastic. The shape and colour of that beak with the nose holes is awesome. But the item that I'm most crazy about is that clear, sharp eye surrounded with orange coloured lids. It looks so fixed and concentrated, kind of piercing. The reflection of the sun in the eye and the shadow from the lid are great, too. When I saw the photo first on my computer I immediataly said "Wow!". This is one kind of a proudly looking bird.

The next photo looks quite strange. This scene shows what I mentioned above when saying that the birds are so experienced with the stormy wind that they don't care about flying but can concentrate on the events on the grounds. If you observe the birds in the air you can watch them moving their head around and around, accelerating and suddenly stopping in the air, in order to not miss anything on the ground. This sea gull must have spotted something interesting, so it stopped immediately and raised it's head. Looks kind of funny. In this photo I also like the background with the blue sky and clouds in white and different shades of gray.

This sea gull was kind of posing for me. It was standing at the end of some coast protection construction looking at me. Since it was high water time, the sticks were nearly completely covered with water. I like the questioning look of that bird. But what I love most is the depth of field. In the very front there is that blurred coast protection thing, getting clearer to the end. And the water afterwards is getting blurred again. The sea gull separates very clearly from the foreground and the back. Besides that clear bird I also like the water. The reflection of the blue sky and the clouds and especially the clearness around the feet is great. You can even see some very tiny drops flying around there.

I wanted to catch a sea gull in the process of just starting to fly. This was not easy. First you have to find a bird sitting on the beach. Then you have to get closer to it very carefully. And then you have to wait and wait. And if it starts you have to take care not to loose it. But I did it and here is the result. It looks like the bird is just landing, but in fact it is starting. It was spreading the wings, lowering the head, making two or three steps while waving the wings and suddenly lifts the feet and flies away. This is what the scene shows. I again like the focal blur or depth of field in that photo. Only this small stip at the hight of the bird is clear. That abstract looking shadow in front of the bird is interesting, as well as the blue top of the bird, which must be the reflecting sky.

The last photo was another challenge for me. I was amazed by the flying skills of the sea gulls. The were flying close above the water surface but did not touch the water with their wing tips. And with tail wind they can reach quite high speeds. I wanted to catch one bird in this situation. This was more difficult than shooting one during take off. You have to wait until one bird is flying by and then you have to move the camera in nearly the same speed as the bird to get motion blur on the background only. From the many photos I did of this scene only few are nice and this one here is one of the best, because I got 2 sea gulls at the same time.

That was one fun weekend at the beach and more photos are to come soon.