With temperatures touching nearly 30c over the last 7 days little more proof is needed of the fact our weather is/has changed over the last two decades. And over the last two years I have noticed a warm April and May then the so called summer months of June, July and August seem never to reach their target with regards to temperatures and sunshine. During the summer months when I was in Mull the locals told me of a real wet May, washing away a lot of the birds’ nests, both ground nesting and higher nesting birds having water logged nests. Fast forward, the warmest September for many years, with the start of October being brought in with sun worshipers wearing swimwear around our coasts.
Many experts have their own ideas to what is causing this but there can be no more firmer proof than in the Polar Regions. Climate change is having a greater and faster impact on the Arctic than previously thought, air temperatures in the region have on average increased by about 5c over the last 100 years. Change to the way humans live their lives is needed, with population growth worldwide exceeding beyond space.
During the last 7 -10 days the number of items of clothing you apply when working outdoors in the cold at this time of year has slightly been put on hold, instead the summer order as I call it has remained way pass its purposed shelf life within the natural seasonal calendar. Visits to Norfolk were bathed in sunshine and felt more like a Spanish holiday resort.
Closer to home in the glorious sunshine I have been working on a few subjects, the Short Eared Owls have arrived, coming down from altitude to feed during the winter months around low lying moorland and marshland. I have been lucky enough to have some good sighting over the last couple of weeks of this beautiful owl within the habitat.
With the harvest now having been collected and gathered in by the farmers its left the fields slightly exposed, which helps when trying to find Brown Hares, as the low height affords these mammals no or little cover once they leave the safety of the hedgerows and small pockets of woodland they use as cover. I spent a couple of mornings, dressed head to toe in camo gear stalking, covered in sweat once the sun had risen due to the temperatures. A couple of lovely encounters here from the different days.
The deer rut is an event really just starting now around the country with Autumn upon us. I have already been out a couple of times, once with a client on a one to one and the other on my own, and its still not really started in great earnest, almost like the calm before the storm. This year I will, like last year visit the different places around the country, finishing in Scotland hoping to capture different images and angles to this wonderful event in the natural world. I am also hoping to do a short film for Phototraining4U covering my day from dawn till dusk on this event, so lots going on.
Hopefully over the next several weeks I am able to capture a few images of this event and post them at a later date. I am looking forward to meeting the folks who have booked onto my Beauty of Wildlife two day workshop in conjunction with Calumet Photographic. I will be presenting a few slide shows, talking about some key elements to wildlife photography, then going through peoples cameras and settings in readiness for day two out on the moors of the Peak District.
The second day we will be capturing the wildlife that live in this area, at the same time helping each person to improve their own wildlife photography. Learning fieldcraft in a wild environment, which is the only way people can truly see what skills are needed to approach an animal that’s not use to humans. I will update my blog after this event which I am really looking forward to.
I am just testing out some new and amazing slideshow software I have for talks and presentations and thought I’d share this first example with you. I’m still working on different things but it gives you a flavour of what I plan on doing, hope you enjoy this short film.
I have just returned from the Welsh capital, Cardiff after two wonderful days filming for the online training company PhotoTraining4U.The site offers quality training for all photographers at an affordable price. The site is based on streaming video that capture photographers at work. PhotoTraining4U is aimed at both professional and amateur photographers alike and is structured into bite size learning films, over 800 at present, each around 20 minutes.
On the first day we went through where and how my love of wildlife, nature and photography began, forming the great passion I have for the natural world today which is the foundation to my work and images. The second day I was out among nature, my office as I call it, watching and looking at the beauty of nature all around. The beauty of photographing wildlife is that it is always changing and evolving, encountering the unexpected and in this environment the photographer must learn to work with these changing environmental conditions and behaviours. The result cannot always be predicted, which makes fieldcraft one of the most important skills you have to learn to be fully connected to wildlife.
I always try where possible to work the land as I put it, and stay away from staged or set up shots where bait is placed out while you wait, preferring the more natural image, as seen or shot when I encountered the subject, not changing an animal’s behaviour to obtain an image. You just never know what will turn up working in this manner, so being ready to capture what you see is key through composition, fieldcraft and the correct camera settings.
I have always loved helping people and when I first started in wildlife photography this carried through. I know how hard it is to get help or advice when you are first beginning to take photos of wildlife, what works? What bag to buy? Is this lens any good? What camera settings? the list goes on. Emailing professional wildlife photographers asking for help or advice most of which never return your email, so because of this I like to show others the techniques I have taught myself, what works and what doesn’t while on the ground, in the theatre of wildlife.
During the first day Mark Cleghorn, Director and founder of PhotoTraining4U went through several interviews with me on film, going back to the beginning, where it all started which was fun. As I was talking I was reliving some of the funny moments I could recall, the tiny things that made all the difference, which all set me onto the path today. We went through some of my images where I explained the motivation behind each shot, how and why I captured the images on show while being filmed, which was very new to me as I am normally behind the camera a lot of the time, when not working with clients on various workshops and trips.
That evening we went to a local marshland area not far from Cardiff town centre, this for me was perfect to go through some basics within wildlife photography. I had not visited this area before and upon arriving to a new site I wanted to demonstrate that you can always witness something within wildlife. A saying I have said from the beginning of my own work is that there is always an image to be taken no matter where you are.
When I arrive somewhere new I always look for the light and get a feel of the place, where the wildlife is or may turn up, direction of light, possible different images and so on, I find my brain is almost scanning around and presenting me with choices in an almost automatic way, if that makes sense? While the photography was going on, Jay the cameramen was filming and I was explaining what I was doing and looking for, giving useful tips and advice. Both Mark and Jay where brilliant in helping me to relax in front of camera and I think my sheer passion and true love of wildlife carried me through.
That evening we all went for a lovely meal and I got to see the passion and resolve behind the company and I was very impressed with all of the team and their future plans. Then it was back to my hotel in readiness for the early start and the amazing light I was hoping for. Mark had found a place not to far again from the town centre which was surrounding by housing, a little oasis within the urban environment which supports many different species of wildlife.
We wanted to show and demonstrate that when you are just starting out or have started out that wildlife is everywhere, lakes and marshland/grasslands are everywhere around the UK, ‘green lungs’ as I have called them in an early blog posted a while back now. These areas have often been left to their own devices, brimming with wildlife which makes a great addition to the urban habitat surrounding them, which can be photographed in close proximity to where you live, capturing those moments with your camera.
Both Mark and Jay came with me on that early morning start, after the first days interviews I had told mark of my affection with cold toast,so it was a nice surprise to see two slices prepared and wrapped up in foil as I was picked up, which was really funny and made me laugh in the darkness of that morning. When I arrive in a new place that I have no knowledge of, I always find myself looking around, smelling the air and really trying to build a picture in my own head of what’s going on around me and tell tale signs or clues to what wildlife may or may not be around.
I always find east with my compass, knowing where the light will come from will really help in capturing images in the morning light. I had a look around the lake, worked out where I’d like to settle and got myself into place and all set up for the rising sun, which had slowly started to creep up before me. Jay and Mark set up their cameras and again just left me to it and started to film and photograph me while at work, as I explained all the time what I was doing, looking for ,camera settings and so on. The light was amazing, calm water with no ripples giving you that affect that the birds, in this case Mute Swans were floating in space.
Swans are big and powerful birds that are really beautiful when you take a closer look. They have a calmness about them if left alone which shows off their great elegance and beauty. I wanted to capture that beauty within these images as they calmly drifted effortlessly around where I witnessed at times them closing their eyes and sleeping. Such gentleness and calmness I saw and that I hope I have captured with these images.
These Swans kept me company throughout that morning coming in close to see if they would be fed, then retiring to a safe distance should I present some bread or other food for them. I didn’t use any food as I just wanted the birds to come and go as they wished, even though they had a slight tolerance to humans they were still wild animals and free to come and go. As it happened I captured some wonderful moments using my trusted long lens and much loved wide angled lens which is perfect for wildlife and getting those wider shots I love seeing and photographing.
I spent a good several hours around the lake and surrounding area that morning and had some wonderful moments, making several short films, all explaining my craft for PhotoTraining4U. I will be going live on the site in January 2012 when I will officially join the site as one of their masters, covering my passion of wildlife photography for them. The films I’ll be shooting with the team will follow me as I work the land, from dawn to dusk. I will showing members how I work, photographing wild animals within their habitat, showing their different behaviours and characters within photography.
I had a really good time, big thanks to Mark, Jay and the rest of the team. Thank you all for your hospitality and warm welcome, and I look forward to working with you guys. As I mentioned I will be going live on the site in January 2012, becoming their master on wildlife photography. Where all the films I will be making can be seen on there website, so if you’d like to know more information then visit PhotoTraining4U’s website or email me direct here.
And just before I go I heard back from the British Wildlife Photographic Awards – BWPA last week and my short-listed Red Grouse image in the Habitat category was beaten by a Red Grouse wide angled shot, almost the same as mine, without the light, so I was a little gutted there, the winning image there was amazing. I entered some amazing images captured in the wild but they didn’t get anywhere, with alot of images doing well from set up sights which aren’t the same as finding the image through your own hard work in my eyes.
It really puzzles me to what judges are looking for within a wildlife photograph for a competition, where it comes down in the end to the photographers integrity to disclose the facts of the shots, that can be judged alongside the image. Good luck to all those who won or where commended. Here is the image, 15 minutes crawling forward to capture this male Red Grouse calling down the valley which was covered in morning mist, shot with a 24-70mm wide angled lens
And one of my favorite images entered into the same competition, two Great Crested Grebes going about their courtship, captured here swimming alongside each other in a show of affection towards each other.
The onset of autumn is just around the corner now, as the trees and plants lose their prominent green colour and replace it with those wonderful yellow and red colours. Symbolizing the changing seasons, as we leave the summer and enter into the lovely season of autumn, trees are left exposed to the elements, giving that minimalistic feel in its place. Woodland and parkland echo to the noise of Red and Fallow deer roaring and grunting during the annual ritual of the rut. All is quiet until the silence is broken with the dawn roars during this period of frenetic activity.
I have been really busy with one to ones and my own work over the last couple of weeks as I’ve noticed a slight nip in temperatures and the evenings are beginning to draw in. I have found a few new sites that look really promising, more news in the future fingers crossed, and while spending quite a bit of time at one I managed to capture this male Stonechat in the setting sun, with the slight autumn colours forming the background.
I’ve also been revisiting my Watervole site, watching where this fellow feeds and comes ashore, I was able to photograph him on the riverbank here, just sniffing the air in the image below, such wonderful creatures to watch.
Birds are on the move everywhere now and autumn is a great time of activity as young birds seek their own territories as migrants birds undertake their extraordinary journeys around the world. All around our coast you’ll see alot of action too, with Seals, wintering flocks of birds, vast influxes of Pink foot, Brent Geese.
I really look forward to welcoming our winter visitors that spend their time on our shores during this time, returning in early spring to the breeding grounds back home. The bounty of food that litters the land during the autumn months brings many species out as they gorge on natures offering before the cold of winter sets in. You also get lovely light with the shorter days and colder temperatures all adding so much to any image.
Whooper Swans are one of my favourite as they travel south from their arctic breeding grounds to spend their winters in the UK, a beautiful and elegant bird. Another great event in natures calendar shortly is the deer rut, an event that reaches its peak in mid October. This year as well as visiting the sites within the UK I will be making my way north to Scotland hoping to capture this amazing event within the dramatic surroundings this part of the UK offers, along with some lovely autumn light fingers crossed.
The Red deer stag is Britains largest land mammal, during the rut they advertise their presence, power and control over a harem of females with dawn roars which echo for miles. When rivals cannot be separted on their roars alone things turn physical then as the stags with antlers locked push each other, trying to force the other to the ground. The risks are high though with massive, sharp antlers which can inflict seroius, even mortal wounds. The rewards though are great, as the dominant male wins the chance to father all of the next years offspring from the harem.
Lots of wonderful events within natures calendar coming up over the next few months which I am hoping to capture with my camera. Wildlife changing with the seasons, one such animal I have spent a lot of my time on during the summer months is the Mountain Hare which turns white with the onset of autumn/winter. The Peak District is a great place for this mammal and outside of Scotland is the only other place they live in the wild after being introduced some years ago now.
Towards the end of September I will be at the Outdoor Trade show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire with 511 Tactical UK clothing stand. I have been testing some items kindly sent to me from 511 over the last six months in different climates, I have found them to be really comfortable and very hard wearing in the field, a full review will be posted soon on my blog. Ray Mears, TV presenter who also uses this brand of clothing will also be there on the Monday so if you are in the area drop in, or alternatively see their website here for full product range.
PhotoTraining4U is aimed at both professional and amateur photographers alike and is structured into bite size learning films, over 800 at present, each around 20 minutes. It’s online quality training for photographers for an affordable price. This type of training enables photographers of all levels to learn new techniques on every subject.
After a recent meeting I am pleased to say I have been asked to do some filming with the team, covering how I work in the field, giving helpful tips and advice in order that people can capture those amazing moments in nature that they see. At the same time learning more about key elements when working with wild animals, that in turn will help you read what’s happening around you, giving better results with your own wildlife photography. I will update my blog once the filming is complete which is due to start in the last week of September.
All the new dates for my workshops and photo tours are now up for next year, please click here to see them. Thanks you to those who have booked onto the Beauty of Wildlife 2 day wildlife workshop I am doing in conjunction with Calumet Photographic, Manchester. I look forward to meeting you all and helping you capture and see the beauty of wildlife.
I have a few places left for my Winter Waders, Norfolk 3 day photo tour in December. The Wash is England’s largest tidal estuary and one of the country’s most important winter feeding areas for waders and wildfowl and you’ll be spellbound as you watch tens of thousands of pink-footed geese from Iceland leave their night time roost site and head inland to feed. Norfolk in the winter offers so much in the way of wildlife and my aim on this 3 day workshop is to get you some of the best images of the winter wildlife Norfolk has to offer.
And lastly, I have an exhibition called “The Beauty of Wildlife” for one week from Sunday 27th November until Sunday 4th December 2011 at the amazing Winter Gardens in Sheffield. Officially opened by Queen Elizabeth 2nd, on 22nd, May 2003, this is one of the largest temperate glasshouses to be built in the UK and a beautiful place in which to display my work, with trees, plants and other fauna around creating a peaceful and tranquil environment.
I will be in attendance throughout the week. There is also coffee and light refreshments available within the site. So if you are in the area then please pop in to say hi and have a look at the exhibition. And if you have any questions or require any help or advice on the equipment you are using then I will do my best to help. Look forward to seeing you there.
Katmai National Park is undoubtedly one of the best locations in Alaska for Grizzly Bear viewing. This is the home to the renowned Kodiak bear or Kodiak Grizzlies, some of the largest bears in existence having been known to be 10ft in height when standing.In summer North America’s largest land predators gather along streams to feast on salmon runs, building weight from this wealth of protein and fat, preparing for the long winter ahead. The Grizzlies of Alaska are the principal reasons for visiting this corner of the world, with a population of approximately 32 – 43,000, Grizzly Bears are found in most corners of Alaska.
Come and join me on this amazing adventure to the stunning wildness of Alaska and witness this amazing animal in this stunningl habitat. We will be working with the best guys on the ground in Alaska ensuring we get to the best locations safely, giving us as a group the best opportunities to photograph this amazing bear and surrounding wildlife. Unlike bear viewing at other spots in Alaska, on this trip we watch grizzlies from our small boat and from the ground. Of course grizzlies are unpredictable and can never be guaranteed, but the ship operator has been running scientists and a select few photographers to this region for over 10 years and has never missed seeing them.
This fantastic boat, simple in design will provide the ideal accommodation from where to explore the wilderness of Katmai National Park and the awesome Kodiak Grizzlies. A fantastic converted tug boat simple in design but providing the ideal accommodation from where to explore this amazing wilderness.The Grizzly Cruiser is only for small groups and is ideal for photographers looking for an intimate wildlife experience where they can get those up close and personal shots of the huge Kodiak Grizzly Bears, following the bears from bay to bay.
As well as travelling the shores watching for bears, we also track them on foot here. Not from viewing platforms, or from vehicles, but on their territory with the protection of your skilled and knowledge guides on the ground. This is a truly wild encounter and access to the land is via a skiff (fat bottomed boat). These are wild animals and we can never fully understand their behaviours and motivations, its an amzing trip with stunning images at every turn.
This 7 day photo trip will be backed by ABTOT/ATOL bonded tour operator World Bear safaris, giving you complete piece of mind. For bookings and further information, please click on this link
I have often said on previous blog pages covering many different subjects and places, you just never know what you’ll see when working with wildlife. And this one sentence couldn’t be further from the truth on a recent outing photographing Watervoles at a site within the beautiful Peak District, Derbyshire. This little creature lives a peaceful life on our riverbanks up and down the UK, often going unnoticed by passersby, but should you go to close or spook this animal you’ll be greeted in most parts by a loud “PLOP” as the vole makes a quick dash for safety by diving straight into the water and away to safety.
I am very fortunate to have found over the years several good sites in which these animals live and breed in. Watervoles are one of my favourite mammals, with their enduring character and cuteness, making them a lovely subject to watch and also photograph. They are legally protected in Britain and sadly their numbers continue to plummet. Due to its small size and the fact that it lives both on land and in the water, Watervoles are prey to numerous predators wherever they appear to live.
Mink, Weasels, Foxes along with Adders are the most common predators on dry land, with Owls and other birds Of prey hunting them from the air. Large fish such as Pike are known to hunt these mammals also. Their vast reduction in numbers in recent years however is not just caused by this high level of predation, the loss of much of their natural habitats has had a much more drastic effect along with the destruction of bank side vegetation, and pollution playing a vital part of their declining number on our shores.
I have been very lucky over the years in finding sites when I’m out and about, often there looking for another subject, when suddenly I’ll see gnawed nuts, shredded bark and cut grass leaves, all clear indicators of their presence around me at these new sites. One such site I have been watching for some time now, in-between my one to ones/workshops and other projects, I have captured them going about their lives along this very healthy river system in a beautiful and secluded part of the UK.
They share this space with a family of Little Grebes and I managed to captured the fully grown fledgling floating effortless on the dead calm water here, learning the skills his parents had taught him over the last several weeks.
On this day in question I got into place at dawn, settling into place, there was little wind, as Watervoles have an incredible sense of smell. I stay as low as is possible and become part of the riverbank, hiding away using the natural cover afforded to me from the reeds and bank side vegetation always mindful not to disturb these animals with my presence. I never enter the water around where they live or breed as I personally feel that this is a step to close, the welfare of any animal comes before any photograph, something you must be aware of with every living animal you photograph.
Much of the time when you are waiting for a wild animal to turn up you never know where, how or if your chosen subject will turn up so during this period I always become tuned into my environment, listening and watching for anything that indicates life, movement and the possibility of a different image or a new site or subject appearing. This approach is time consuming but greatly rewarding when you witness or see something for the first time, or even learn a bit more about your subject or that of any other living creature that may show up during your time at a certain place.
Without warning though I heard a slight rushling noise coming from deep inside the reeds as I witnessed the tops of the broad reeds moving, like someone was passing through underneath them if that makes sense. The next thing I saw was a Watervole climbing out on a very narrow branch and trying to reach some leaves at the end. I just could’nt believe what I was seeing here.
Using his tail and hand as he balanced himself at the same time slowly and carefully moving along the branch, a few times pausing in an act to just steady himself. I didn’t know what to do first, laugh or stop and ask myself was I really seeing this, a wild animal doing a behaviour I’d never seen or even heard of before.
As the Watervole neared the leaves he would gather one and just casually sit there, suspended above the water beneath him and eat a few more before climbing back down to firm ground and a place you are normally accustom to seeing Watervoles live and feed in and around.
I feel privileged to have seen this behaviour on this day, really underlining you just never know what will happen as you watch wildlife and by being ready with your camera, constantly watching your subject you will, with luck be able to capture such events that would be hard to explain outside of a set-up image. Not long after this he carried on feeding on the ground, a little out of shot, then disappearing into the dense undergrowth, where I didn’t see him again that day.
I’ll be going back soon hoping to see this pair and over the summer months my Watervole workshops have helped many of my clients not only to see this wonderful mammal in the wild but they have been able to take some wonderful images also. If you would like more information on these days then please click here and scroll down to the bottom of my workshops/photo tours page.
I had a lovely surprise over the weekend with one of my favourite Spring Tides at Norfolk images published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the image can be seen above and the link here. It was taken on one of the Spring Tides that really start in earnest on the lead up to Christmas now. I focused inside the flock as half of the birds, which are called Knot, started to take off, leaving a queuing system on the ground as the other Knots waited to join them by taking off and returning to the mudflats of the wash in Norfolk.
If you would like to witness this amazing event, I run one to ones/workshops there concentrating on these spectacular days in the morning, then throughout the rest of the day we visit many other amazing sites around the North Norfolk coastline, finishing at one of my Barn Owl site there capping off a wonderful day of wildlife photography, for more details please see my link here many thanks.
In October I will be running a two day “Beauty of Wildlife” workshop in conjunction with Calumet Photographic, one of the leading photographic suppliers in the UK. It will be the first workshop of many planned with this leading camera supplier company. The first day will be based at their Manchester branch, where we I will go through camera settings, compositions, setting up of each person’s camera and sharing/passing on my knowledge in order to improve individuals photography.
I will also show you some slideshows, touching on the various different skills needed for wildlife photography, use of light, what to look out for, fieldcraft and lots more. Tea and Coffee will be provided during the day and I’ll answer any questions in regard to wildlife photography that you may have in order to improve or move along your own existing skill level. I demonstrate to everyone that attends my one to ones and workshops what works and cut through all the ‘minefield’ of what’s best and what should I use, which mode etc that can drag people down.
I will replace all of that with a usable workflow that works on the ground, the same as I use, with no secrets, no hidden settings. Once clients have seen this I feel it gives them a more relaxed approach to their own work, knowing full well they weren’t really doing a lot wrong in the first place. I am self taught with over 30 years of knowledge of wildlife, which is the real key to wildlife photography.
The second day, unlike the first which will be classroom based will be in the beautiful Peak District. As a wildlife photographer the great outdoors is my office, a place in which I capture the beautiful images I am blessed in seeing. The beauty of photographing wildlife is that it is always changing and evolving, encountering the unexpected. In this environment the photographer must learn to work with these changing environmental conditions and behaviours, and the result cannot always be predicted.
My images represent an event that occurred in the wild, something that I witnessed and recorded with my camera. Learning to get close to wildlife without disturbing the life of the animal is the key to my work and this approach enables me to get close enough to capture the animal’s beauty and behaviour which both feature strongly in my style of photography, showing a wild animal within their natural habitat being the foundation to my work today.
Fieldcraft is the most important tool in a wildlife photographer’s box I believe, because if the animal is not use to human contact, isn’t tame or use to you putting food out, then they will be very difficult to get close to in the absence of hides.
Learning fieldcraft skills will improve your photography, as a subject going about its life, free from human contact always makes for the best photographs. I feel you cannot learn real and true fieldcraft from anything other than a wild animal, in the wild. I have never worked with captive or tame animals as their behaviour is too contrived for me and is as a result of contact with man. I will show you simple and key elements to fieldcraft on the second day where you’ll greatly benefit from the wonderful wildness that is the moors of the Peak District and its wildlife.
Many clients who attend my workshops all go away with a better understanding of photographing wildlife, where it’s not about what you have but how to best use your equipment to obtain those lovely images you see with your eyes. Things change very quickly in the wild and I will give you ideas and a workflow that empowers you to capture and improve your own work. Seeing an image takes time, this skill can be learned by watching your subject and understanding its behaviour.
The Red Grouse by nature is a very elusive bird, always hiding away and making best use of the habitat in which to disappear, as shown in this wide angled image of a Red Grouse hiding, blending in very well. They will see you long before you see them.
We will start early to capture the beautiful wildlife as the sun rises against the backdrop of the Peak District which will make for some amazing images. During our day in the Peak District we will be concentrating our efforts on Red Grouse among the autumn/winter landscapes and Mountain Hares, the only place outside of Scotland where there is a healthy population of these mammals.
We will also have the opportunity to see Short Eared Owls and many other birds which stay in this area all year, and don’t migrant like alot of other birds. You will need to provide your own photographic equipment or alternatively you can hire equipment from Calumet Photographic, Manchester and we will meet in Buxton train station car park. It will be a great day, where you will learn alot more about the ‘wild’ in wildlife photography, capturing images that will be around you, gaining subject awareness which again is key to capturing a wild animal’s character and behaviour.
So if you would like to book onto this wildlife workshop then please click on this link, which will take you to Calumets website. If you would like to hire any camera equipment for the day of which I will help and go through with you on the first day then again just ask at your time of booking. I look forward to seeing you in October and should you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact myself or Calumet Photographic Manchester.
Over the last seven days I have had four one to ones. Two in Norfolk photographing Barn Owls and Waders -thank you Ian and Daniel. Then travelling onto the Peak District for two days of one to ones photographing Red Grouse, Dippers and Watervoles with repeat customer Andrew, many thanks for your company gents. The weather was testing at times but I hope you all got everything and more from your one to one days with myself and look forward to seeing you all in the future. Many thanks.
A selection of my photographs have been chosen to form part of the online gallery of the highly prestigious and respected BBC Wildlife magazine; Discover Wildlife. Showing a few of my favourite images taken in the wild, capturing private and personal moments with my camera. I contacted the editor many months ago and was informed that there was a long waiting list and thought know more of it after submitting my images. Then a welcome email this week confirming that they are up was a lovely surprise. So a big thank you to Sophie, the editor and her team who were very helpful.
During the last few days alongside my own work, I visited the county of Norfolk for the predicted spring tide, with an early drive to meet clients at 4am. We then head out onto the beach in readiness for this amazing event.
There was good activity earlier on out on the mudflats, with good numbers of Dunlin and Knot all congregating together. Still having the remains of their summer plumage visible which gave a splash of colour within this mudflat environment. Alongside these waders were the Oystercatchers, whose number grow as the weeks pass. The weather was kind in parts but the lack of light at times quashed our shutter speeds during the morning. The weather picked up during the rest of the day in Norfolk.
Once the sea has consumed the land the birds fly around in an almost panic state before settling into the pools or pits as they are better known, in front of the hides located there, which are provided by the RSPB. Upon settling down and looking out of our chosen hide we were greeted by hundreds of Waders, Dunlin and Knot all gathered on shingle banks, moving one way then the next, with more birds coming in all the time from the mudflats.
These offer them a safe place to roost in, rest and relax until the spring tide starts to retreat, exposing the vast areas of mudflats, where the sea has replenished the whole area with food brought in by the incoming tides. I wanted to try and convey all the movement, shapes and sights of these waders, so I focused right into the heart of the action using a tele-convertor along with my long lens.
Its then you get to see their numbers and sheer power, feeling the force as they take off from these pools. The noise is amazing and the sheer power of one of natures most amazing spectacles has to be seen to be believed. It’s always great to witness when clients haven’t seen this amazing spectacle, people are amazed as they witness this event in nature and all the drama it brings to these Norfolk shores a couple of times a month.
We all had a great day and the weather was really kind which is something I always wish for clients to have on their day. I have been running these great days now for sometime, where each month there are a few dates when this amazing event happens, so if you wish to make an enquiry or book, then send me an email here and I will get back to you with dates, spaces etc.
These One To Ones can be run on an individual basis or as a two to one as in Ian and Marie-Laure’s case. Big thank you to you both and I hope you enjoyed your day with me having learned more about wildlife photography.
Ive just returned from one of my favourite places in the UK, Norfolk. Having not been there for a few months it was good to reacquaint myself with some of the best places to view this wonderful countys wildlife. Outside of my one to ones I spent some time photographing my own work so the time flew by far too quickly. The weather was really kind, with beautiful sunrises and sunsets in stark contrast to the weather leading up to my visit.
Norfolk is the birth place of one of England’s greatest heroes, Admiral Lord Nelson, born in the village of Burnham Thorpe. He was destined for greatness from a young age, going on to lead our fabulous Royal Navy. The Vice Admiral, died on board HMS Victory on 21 October 1805, and was reportedly proud of his Norfolk roots and referred to them in a victory speech. Now Norfolk has returned the favour by calling itself “Nelson’s County” on new road signs. Norfolk is one of England’s most beautiful counties with its legendary big skies and vast beaches, it’s a paradise for wildlife 12 months of the year.
The dawn light is one thing I truly love, a sense of warmth and being alive fills me upon seeing the new dawn break, and there is no better time in the day for me. After the recent wet weather I got really lucky as she was being kind to me and my clients whilst on their one to one, where I cover the many places, going through help and advice within this amazing county.
Across natures calendar the breeding cycle is coming to an end and in most parts animals are feeding their last offspring. With only the slight high pitched begging call gracing the countryside as you walk around. Most wildlife now are resting, feeding and building up their own body weight in order to have enough strength to migrate to warm climites during the next 3 to 4 weeks. There are those that stay with us all year, where they now have more time, having reared their families. We also welcome our winter visitors very soon, with the small advance parties of waders, and geese having already arrived from their summer breeding grounds here in Norfolk.
While I was driving from the different sites I noticed that there were many poppies starting to bloom, showing their distinctive red colour among the blander colours of the countryside. This image below is as shot where a wall of trees was holding back the sun’s rays, with only a few rays penetrating through and falling onto this lone poppy growing at the roadside. It instinctively caught my eye, with the sun lighting up the colours and finer details of this beautiful flower, showing sometimes the simplest of images are all around us.
A large part of my time was spent looking for Barn Owls and to see how they’d all got on throughout the last few months. I visited several sites and the adult owls were showing well, hunting in the various forms of light I had, from beautiful sunlight to a little overcast on one of the several days I was there. When you are showing clients around a place you know so well its great when a chosen subject you’ve spoke about turns up and I am really glad to say the Barn Owls gave my clients the opportunity to witness them at work, quartering and hunting in pure silence.
Gliding effortless over the farmland, always scanning the ground below. Amazing birds that have captivated me from childhood with their sudden appearance, gaining eye contact with you for a split second then disappearing as quick as they arrived. They truly are the masters of this habitat, never failing to get your heart rate racing once they appear and go about the job they were so well equipped to do.
A pleasure to see and photograph after the two extreme cold spells they’ve endured in 2010 and 2011. I will be returning to Norfolk next week with one to ones as the Spring tides start in earnest again. These happen 2-3 times a month throughout the autumn and winter months. These spring tides are the biggest and best tides for witnessing the thousands of birds roosting on the mudflats, being pushed closer to shore. Sights and sounds of nature that are amazing and never forgotten so I’m really looking forward to these days and capturing a different take on this breathtaking event in nature.
I’ve been running one to ones on these days now for sometime, where we spend the morning watching this amazing spectacular in nature, then the rest of the day we photograph Barn owls, Waders and the winter migrants that slowly arrive on mass throughout the next month or so. I have a few places left also for this years Winter Waders in Norfolk, a full 3 day, 2 night photo trip showing you these and more wonderful sights during the winter months.
GDT / European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011
My photograph “Spring Tide” capturing thousands of waders taking off during a Norfolk spring tide made the final of this prestigious award. With several of my images making the quarter, semi-finals also. The image captures the movement of those birds by using a slow shutter speed, giving the image a real sense of movement. With nearly 1000 photographers from 39 countries, who entered almost 14,000 pictures into this GDT competition. My image made the final in the Bird category.
The European “eye” as I call it has always greatly inspired me and my own work, capturing more of the story behind the photograph and subject, showing the habitat and brilliant, simple compositions makes this competition one of my favourites, with some truly amazing images. Many thanks to my clients over the last several days, hope you enjoyed Norfolk, for more information on my one to ones or photo trips I run the please send me an email here .