A while back I read something I found rather interesting when someone posted an image of an American White Pelican in breeding plumage on an online image critique gallery (Naturescapes.net) where the person who posted the pelican photo stated that the image would be perfect except for the growth on the bill.
The photographer seemed repulsed by the horn or car
uncle (a fibrous, epidermal plate) on the bill and seemed to focus on it instead of the technical and aesthetic weaknesses in their image.
uncle or horn is a growth on the bill of American White Pelicans that occurs yearly during the breeding season. It isn’t an ugly wart or malformation, it is a naturally occurring feature of the American White Pelican and as such I feel the horn adds to my image rather than being distracting. It is really no different than the change in color of the bill & lores of a Reddish Egret in breeding plumage and I have seen photographers scramble like fiddlers crabs over each other to get shots of Reddish Egrets in breeding plumage.
White Pelicans can be challenging to expose properly and show detail in the plumage as most white birds can be but with the correct settings and the right light it can be done. The key for my image above was using -0.3 EV compensation to help control the exposure of the whites while still allowing detail to be seen in the feathers even in the shadow under the wing.
This American White Pelican was photographed at a pond a few blocks away from my home in 2010. The pelicans and other birds that frequent the pond have gotten used to the fishermen, walkers and other people so they are often less skittish and will come in close enough to get images where the subject nearly fills the frame. I do wish I had taken the time to zoom back a little, this is a smidge tighter than I would normally like.
As for the photographer who thought the horn made their image less than perfect? Different strokes for different folks I guess.
Life is good.