Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cruising for Squid

No greyhounds in this entry, unless you're wondering if squid are the "greyhounds of the sea". (They're not: fin whales are. But no fin whales in this entry, either.)

Last Thursday night I joined a group of people on a three-hour-long night excursion to observe the market squid off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I met the passengers waiting to board the boat Redondo Special, and while I waited I saw a number of gulls and pelicans standing on the Redondo Beach harbor breakwater, silhouetted against the fading twilight.

Late afternoon, sunset, and twilight are some of my favorite times to photograph. The warmth of the light during those hours appeal to me. But the quality of the light changes rapidly over a period of a few minutes, so you have to act fast.

I thought I'd try to render the birds and the breakwater as silhouettes. I metered the sky just above the breakwater to make it and the birds go dark, and focused on the pelican at right-center. From where I was standing on the pier I had to go to maximum zoom on my Nikon 18-200mm. In post-processing I cropped the left side of the frame to remove unwanted distractions. This was the first one I took of the birds; I took sixteen altogether and it's the only one that shows three pelicans in profile. Interestingly, the pelican in the center and the gull to its left appear broken into two pieces; actually, there's a gull beyond and behind the center pelican, and another gull flying beyond the one standing. Other than cropping this is straight out of the camera.

A few minutes later I got this:

Again, this was straight out of the camera.

Where's the squid? Right here:

We saw a Risso's dolphin:

And there were lots of gulls dive-bombing for squid:

The seas were glassy-smooth that night. I think everyone had a great time.

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