<<< o >>>flight plan 37 comments + add yours

I took this one at the start of last month, and it's just as well as I've hardly had time to pick up my camera this week.

One of the shots I'd like to take at some point is the definitive seagull shot, the seagull shot to end all seagull shots ;-) Don't ask me why though, but out of all the things I've photographed this is one of the ones that I'd most like to get 'right'. As an example, back in the days when I used to shoot film, I once got through about ten rolls shooting seagulls – only one of which I got right. If you're interested it's the first shot I put up on chromasia.

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
3.08pm on 2/12/05
Canon 20D
EF 70-200 f/4L USM
200mm (320mm equiv.)
aperture priority
C1 Pro
3x2 + Blackpool Tower + fylde coast
comment by Chelsea June at 09:15 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

Great shot! I love this! Your caught it perfectly

comment by rioux at 09:25 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

I love the contrast between the curve of the seagull's wings and body, and the sharp geometric shapes of the building behind it. The colors are also wonderful. I guess it would be a little better if the building was a little more in focus. Otherwise, nice job.

comment by John at 09:31 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

This is a brill seagul shot. It is stunning and I think the background is just right for me

comment by A L I at 09:42 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

fantastic, what a moment and view to capture so perfectly.

comment by Jerome at 09:42 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

Why did you choose this background?

comment by djn1 at 09:57 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

Chelsea June, John and A L I: thanks.

rioux; I actually think this would work better if the background were a little less focussed, but you may well be right.

Jerome: a) because it disambiguates the seagull from a more stereotypical background (sea, sky, clouds and so on), and b) because I thought the contrast between the organic and industrial would be interesting. That said though I didn't put this one up at the time because I wasn't sure that it worked. It's grown on me since – I particularly like the quality of the light – but it's not the seagull shot to end all seagull shots ;-)

comment by a-daily-fan at 10:06 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

absolutely fantanstic - not seen too many pictures quite as beautiful as this shot.

comment by zimny at 10:23 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

Hi, nice shot, something different from all other seagull-and-sea's. Anyway, i want to let you know that when you put your mouse over "thumbs" link something like thos shows up (<$mtentry....$>): http://niemamnicpodspodem.com/funky/photos/temp/djnmt.jpg
Not that it is anything important :)))

comment by djn1 at 10:38 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

zimny: thanks. And thanks for the heads-up regarding the coding problem - I've fixed it now.

comment by Joseph Holmes at 10:49 PM (GMT) on 14 January, 2005

Yeah, this one works great! I love the fact that it's not just another seagull and clouds shot, and the extreme contrast of the industrial background works really well. It's nice how you caught the light on the back of the wings.

comment by frisky? at 12:13 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

haha! cats. seagulls. the two subjets i see in every photoblog out there. ive done seagulls and were it not for the fact that i cant stand cats, i would have some cat pics on my blog too.
this shot is great! the gull is so crisp is awesome. love it. i like the background. i dont think its distracting at all. in fact it reminds me of the golden gate bridge, which if you have been to san francisco, is actually red. ;-)

comment by Jerome at 01:45 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Dave, thanks for the reply. I agree with you on both points. If you have a thing for seagulls this is certainly worth including in the collection IMHO.

comment by miles at 01:55 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

It's a nice shot, the background is a little distracting to me, just a little, a little more blur would have helped, or you could mute it in PS, but that's being picky. The fact that the gull is so sharp shows how good you are at panning!

comment by Brian at 01:59 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Just to clarify, the comment regarding "choose this background" means what you chose to shoot through your viewfinder, and not some post-shot, digital background added in your photo editor of choice--correct? In otherwords, this is "what you saw" when you hit the shutter.

comment by Rodrigo Gómez at 03:01 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Well... actually I like the shot, but, for me at least, a 600mm zoom would be ideal for birds... ;-) (yeah yeah, somebody willing to donate 6,000 US to get one?)

I like the way it looks, but it seems that it's too small in the frame, no? I know, my bird shots also have this problem (no 600mm lens here!), but in fact, that's the reason I don't like my bird shots, they are usually too far, or too small compared to what I would like.

As I said before, I like this one, the light is amazing, and I like the backgroound, even the way it is (but a little bit more blurried would be better), but maybe cropping a little so the bird looks bigger? At least for web-presentation, this should be a problem...


comment by Rodrigo Gómez at 03:08 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

"should be a problem..." should be "should not be a problem..."

comment by mountainbread at 05:18 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Wonderful shot!! Just amazing. Nicely focused to the bird with DOF. I like this shot very much.

comment by Darrell at 05:37 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

A quick critique: BG nice, light lovely, bird too small.

comment by Kevin T. at 05:56 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

I think the shot is amazing for two reasons: 1) like you said, it disambiguates the seagull from a more stereotypical background, and 2) the color and shapes of the background (including the blue sky) are just as fascinating as the crispness and detail of the bird frozen in flight. Great work!

comment by Kevin T. at 05:58 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

P.S. The title "flight plan" is also excellent!

comment by Sharla at 06:44 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

I like the shot but I don't think it accomplishes as much as your normal style.

While the biological contrast between feathers and girders is quite good, that the gull is flying the exact same path as the line of the girder behind it is much of the reason, I think, that this isn't quite "right." If your vantage point had allowed the gull to be against one of the darker interior sections and framed by the lit infrastructure, it would have been better.

I'm uncomfortable that the gull's head is almost lost in it's own shadow and that the gull is almost lost against the background detail.

It's still an exceptional and interesting pic and I always enjoy all of your postings. Your most minor contribution exceeds most others' best.

And while I'm on about others, I've been voting for you in the most recent blog contest, and you have to know that the others being considered are not as good, and it's not a small difference. While they are quite good, they are not as consistent and don't often reach your "everyday" plateau and don't have your range.

Keep up the great work and I sincerely hope you enjoy your creations as much as I do.

comment by peterv at 09:09 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Wrong bird. Great curve to wing. Great background (needs paint in parts) and should be more out of focus, but wrong bird. This is an immature gull with the brown plumage and the white plumage of a mature gull would have stood out against the red of the tower.

Sharla, you hit with you comment about why I'm voting for Chromasia. Third is not what we want, Dave.

comment by Jerome at 11:51 AM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Brian: If you're referring to the question I posed to Dave, Why did you choose this background?. I did in fact mean "why did you choose to release the shutter at that moment".

comment by djn1 at 01:33 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Thanks everyone.

And thanks for voting in the Best of Blogs Awards competition but, as peterv mentions, it looks as though I'm going to finish up in third place. But it doesn't matter. The competition has probably generated a bit more traffic for chromasia but if I win of if I lose doesn't really make much difference to anything – hopefully you'll all still visit and enjoy my work, and I'll still enjoy producing it :-)

frisky?: I'm afraid to confess that I have a cat shot too ;-)

comment by tobias at 03:42 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

I think your first shot (the black and white) realy captures the energy and contrasting tones.

That said the backdrop makes this rather eyecatching. I'm sure if the seagull woul dbe better were it to dominate the image somewhat more. The size of the structure to the background I feel dwarfs the focal point somewhat. I feel the first shot of the segull you linked allows the viewer to feel more involved with the image, where-as this one leaves you perhaps feeling a bit of a spectator.

Just my humble opinion. As soon as my site is up, you can feel free to critique myself.

comment by myla at 03:52 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

I remember that original shot and share your same wish (to take "that" shot) -- this is particularly wonderful, I love the sunlight on her belly. I wonder what this would look like in high contrast b/w :-)

comment by helgi at 04:38 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Yeah, I also wonder how it'd look in B/W or at least somewhat desaturated -- I don't like the colors. And it's a shame the head is in a shadow.

But it's fun seeing animals in unusual environments

comment by Orange at 08:29 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

I think this is a fantastic shot. I love the colors and do not think that the background is distracting. I feel those who are complaining about the shadow on the birds head should try and capture an image like this themselves Capturing a moving object and at the same time taking into consideration, lighting , color and the overall composition is not an easy task. You have done an amazing job here!!!!!!

comment by pierre at 09:04 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

ah yes, I've been trying shooting seagulls the other day too...
Not an easy thing to do, for sure

comment by Todd Baker at 09:54 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Dave...when you get that shot to "end all seagull shots", can I have this, then useless, one?

Seriously, I like the fact that the bird is somewhat lost in the BG, maybe too small and maybe the light not quite right, but it adds to the contrast that was mentioned above; that of nature vs. industry.

comment by Jorge at 10:06 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Cool shot

comment by djn1 at 11:08 PM (GMT) on 15 January, 2005

Thanks everyone.

myla and helgi: I did try a black and while version when I first took this shot, but I couldn't get it to work – the seagull just didn't stand out at all.

Todd: no, I'm a hoarder of seagull shots ;-)

comment by bob at 04:36 PM (GMT) on 16 January, 2005

Fantastic image -- he's in sharp focus... those wings spread like that are something to see -- great job...

comment by allyson at 07:18 PM (GMT) on 16 January, 2005

Wow. I am really becoming a Chromasia Fan. I have no credentials, only a love for my new digital hobby. The contrasting background of the seagull shot takes the prize..... and would be perfect on the cover of National Geographic... this is not just a seagull shot, your eye caught nature amist the makings of man.

comment by P at 02:07 AM (GMT) on 17 January, 2005

i love the gull, but i'm afraid i find the background too distracting. the intricate detail and shadows in those brown feathers really need a solid background to stand off from.

i too have tried off and on to capture the perfect seagull pic, but to date this is the best i've done: http://www.petebeck.com/photos/archives/000985.html

comment by jane at 11:05 PM (GMT) on 18 January, 2005

Amazing, really loving it. Light v weight.....simple v complex..... nature v construction....dunno but it works for me. And just to be a pedantic pain in the arse, and only cos I can never make any intelliegent, knowledgable comments re the photography and processes etc......there's no such thing as a seagull........ Luv ya ;-)

comment by Wilson at 12:53 AM (GMT) on 5 February, 2005

Gez! That is amazing.. the timing!!