A great way of getting into wildlife photography is to practice on captive subjects such as birds of prey. I don’t consider this as ‘cheating’. In the wild you often have to react quickly and know your settings inside out to get the best out of any given opportunity. Bird of prey workshops offer you the chance to learn the skills necessary – in natural surroundings and often with variable weather conditions. Working with SMJ Falconry in Oxenhope, Yorkshire we have access to wonderful surroundings including moorland edge with gritstone boulders and heather.
The male merlin is one of my favourite birds. This particular merlin is incredibly relaxed around photographers and often preens for us.
We also like to make use of prey. This peregrine was photographed with a quail. It soon ripped into the bird with feathers flying, making for images with real impact.!
Flight photography is always a test – not just of the photographer but also the equipment. Our barn owl is perfect for straight flights and we can usually repeat this a good number of times.
Willow, the female red kite is quite a star. We usually let her fly around the valley before photographing as she comes in to the food. The beauty of this location is in being able to get flight shots against the hillside rather than just sky.
If you are interested in joining one of theses Bird of Prey Photography Courses get in touch: email@example.com Further photo workshops can be found at www.naturephotographycourses.co.uk All the birds at SMJ Falconry are in remarkable condition and it’s obvious that this family run business put a lot of effort into the birds’ welfare.
I recently led a Photography Workshop at Bempton Cliffs on the East Yorkshire coast. Upon arrival we were greeted by the thickest of sea mists with terrible visibility. I was pretty sure it would lift by the afternoon, but the fact is – it didn’t! So, rather than complain about what could not be changed, we persevered with our bird photography. It certainly gave opportunities for something different – which is never easy to do at Bempton. The histogram for our images was almost in one place due to the short dynamic range.
The most difficult part was focussing. Regardless of lens speed, autofocus was having an absolute nightmare trying to lock onto wishy washy targets against a wishy washy background. I found the juvenile gannets slightly easier as the camera was able to lock on better due to their mottled plumage. The wind was also a real challenge. A strong easterly breeze kept the birds buffeted about and throwing sea spray onto our lenses. Yes, this was definitely a challenge!! As always its a case of keep trying and we all managed some reasonably sharp flight images including the additional guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes.
A little closer to our cameras was this lovely pair of razorbills. Occasionally the sea fog thinned enough to capture some detail in the birds as in this shot here. A nice change from the constant grey fog.
Thanks to my clients Louise and Martin who braved the conditions and embraced the challenge. It would have been all too easy to give up entirely..! As it happens I’m actually quite happy with some of the images and certainly gives me ideas for the future. If you’re interested in joining me on future workshops check out my Photography Course at Bempton Cliffs