A Trio Of Pelicans – Framing And Cropping

three pelicans

There were more than three pelicans on the water. I shot the image with a Fuji X100s. It is a fixed-lens camera with a 35mm-equivalent lens. So the shot captured more than just these three pelicans – though I focused on the ones you see here.

The birds were swimming about and there was only a relatively small area of water that was free of distracting background.

I think of photography a bit like archery. It all comes together in a moment, and then the shot is committed and it wings on its way.

How do we frame shots? Unless we close our eyes and shoot blindly then every shot is the consequence of many factors going on in the photographer’s mind.

What decides whether and where the finished image will be cropped? Even a decision not to crop is a framing decision.


  1. Tamara says:

    Interesting post, I particularly like your memorable comparison characterising photography as ‘a bit like archery.’ Lovely photo of a cutie pelican trio too! 🙂


    1. Or a bit like playing music – every note is a commitment – except with photography when the scene is fleeting and will not return, one can only photograph in that moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tamara says:

        Interesting parallel between photography and music, David!

        However, from my experience playing the piano for many years, albeit as an amateur, I feel that one could easily be paralysed if one thought that each and every single note, accent, and nuance spot on and right was such a “commitment”, as you defined it here.

        On the other hand, I imagine this is evidence that I am an amateur musician. Naturally, a professional musician probably feels what you mentioned.

        I too am consistently challenged by whatever piece I am playing and I like to play as best as possible, but feeling driven to get each and every aspect correct musically every time one plays — well, that truly is the province of excellent pros since achieving that is extraordinarily difficult (especially as one moves up in difficulty with what one is playing).

        Speaking of which, I think your comment shows your professional expertise and attitude to photography.


        1. It’s interesting, because when I think of a musician playing an piece, I imagine them feeling their way into the piece like an actor tries to get to the essence of the character he or she is playing. I imagine a heightened sense of each moment and of the rightness or wrongness of what they are doing to meet that challenge.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Tamara says:

          I don’t enter playing that way, David. Also as I have no background in acting, I cannot really answer about the parallel you noted here in your head.

          From how I play music — I am absorbed with trying to bring out what the composer him/herself has written, including with accents, embellishments etc. It’s a respect that I give to the composition, composer, genre, etc., and then I insert my own style, naturally that comes out.

          Of course, each musician brings his or her style to a piece. And again, professional musicians have, I reckon, much more of a definite persona as they play. Also, professional musicians will often focus on a certain composer. Even as an amateur, I know that if I am playing music written by so and so in such and such a genre as opposed to so and so in another genre – the playing and style of playing will obviously be different.

          But feeling my way into a piece like an actor/actress – no, I do not do it that way. For me, it’s much more emphasis on the composition, piece, or song first and foremost, with an infusion (subconsciously and consciously) of my own style and persona.

          Huge topic here, and one that’s been fun pondering and discussing, thanks!


  2. Rebekah M says:

    That’s a lovely trio, and beautifully captured.

    Birds and wildlife … that’s what I like to take pictures of the most. As they present themselves, I don’t sense there’s much time to think about framing/composing. Let’s say I spot a Bald Eagle … I got to be so careful not to move or make any kind of sound! Besides I get way too excited by just _seeing_ the bird, so I can’t focus on anything else.

    Having said all that … there are times when I look at a landscape, where I have time to think about the framing. I’m not an aspiring photographer per se … it’s just a fun thing to do. The only reason I still lug the DSLR camera around is the birds/animals.

    Interesting, reading the comments too 🙂


    1. Thanks about the photo.

      I think part of the appeal is the rush of energy when there is a possibility of a photo but it is going to disappear soon.

      I photographed demonstrations and they were great to shoot – everything changing from moment to moment.


  3. Ditto on the archery comparison.

    Pelicans are always fun to shoot. Love the feathery textures/details.


  4. Wow! I’ve never seen pelicans “up close” before; if you disregard the massive beak/pouch combo, they look rather a lot like swans: ) and have such beautiful (palest of pink!) plumage. Also loving the crystal blue-green reflection here; your focus is amazing: )


    1. Thanks. I have to go back with a longer lens and try to capture some of that plumage close up. I agree it is lovely.


  5. Pat says:

    When I am photographing my mind focuses on the beauty and personality of whatever I am focusing on less then the technical aspects. When I get home I love the artistic act of enhancing what I was able to capture in the field. I almost always crop a little – sometimes a lot when I don’t have a long enough lens. Sometimes I find a macro gem within a broader frame. Isn’t it fun!


    1. That’s a good observation. Sometimes I don’t pick up my camera and just want to drink in the scene. Then at other times I just want to capture the beauty of something – like those pelican feathers.

      You know, I don’t crop very often. Some purists say one should never crop, but I don’t see any reason to be stuck with the original framing. In fact, sometimes I know already that I want to crop the scene, even when I am shooting – if there’s something I don’t want in the scene but I can’t move to take it out of the frame when shooting. Do you find that sometimes?


      1. Pat says:

        Yes I do. I also find that sometimes cropping just a little improves the composition and interest of my focus. I am not a purist because I believe if we have the means to improve we should use it – while appreciating the challenges photographers had when they didn’t have the technology and all corrections needed to be made in the dark room.

        Liked by 1 person

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