Entries Tagged ‘Norfolk’:

Spring Tides at Norfolk

Filed in Articles, Places Of Interest, Workshops on Jan.24, 2011

The first Spring Tides of 2011 graced the Norfolk coastline this weekend with its customary mix of dramatic weather conditions and amazing ariel displays as thousands of waders, mainly Knot twisting and turning as the incoming sea covers the land forcing them into the air. The effect this gives is amazing, one minute its a wall of dark and then the next a wall of white, twisting, turning like a massive fish out of the water. The Spring Tides only really happen around  3-4 times a month and in some months, like December, there weren’t any at all. When the sea comes in and covers the whole area forcing the birds closer to shore, they gather together for protection and by doing so form stunning shapes and patterns.

I was in Norfolk for the Spring Tides over two days, running One To Ones.  On the first day, Friday, the light in the morning was amazing, beautiful colours with small clouds giving the place that summers morning feel.  As the light came up thousands of birds were flying around, forming vast flocks, twisting and turning, all in perfect harmony with each other, creating a smooth fluid movement, which is breathtaking to watch.  Anyone who witnesses this does so in sheer amazement that something so beautiful happens on our own shorelines during the year. 

Once the sea has consumed all 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 there. 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.  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 believed.

The light had faded a little, with the sun coming out one mintue then returning behind the clouds the next.  As we watched with great anticipation as the Knot slept, heads tucked into their wings, sleeping, waiting for the signal to return back to the vast mudflats where they can roost far out to sea. The photograph above shows this behaviour as thousands of Knot all sleep, huddled together forming these vast groups, occasionally the air was filled with them all calling, chattering to each other, moving, others flying in, swelling their numbers. Sometimes the wait is long then next it is short, but when it happens its amazing.  I had a sequence of one to ones with a few people during these days in Norfolk and the second group had never seen this event, which made it even more enjoyable.  So as we all waited, apertures ready, enough shutter speed to freeze this moment, fine tuning everything for that moment they take off, something I have witnessed many times over the years, where each time you see something different, then with no warning, no introduction, they go.

Birds start to take off as the others wait on the ground for their turn to join their group and return to the sea. Peeling off , perfectly timed formations take to the air back to where they belong, the power and force can be felt as you sit in the hides.  With the photograph above I wanted to convey this moment, how some birds wait for their turn while others have already taken off, following each other back to the safely of the sea, a truly amazing site within our wonderful wildlife in this country.

Then with only the last few birds to leave the land, the sky is full, thousands, upon thousands of birds take off, a shiver always goes down my spine upon seeing this, such is the power and beauty of this event.  After which a hot coffee is a must to warm you and reflect on what we  just saw. I then head around the coastline showing the clients the various places I visit, capturing images, going through techniques and helping everyone take better images, where at the same time seeing and learning what amazing wildlife we have around us and how they live their lives.

I also have a few Barn Owl sites I visit and work on.  During the day I show clients this area hoping that they turn up, as many people have never seen one of these amazing birds which are one of my favourite species. Then right on time, they arrive from know where, hunting the ground, they then disappear in a flash giving you a brief insight into how they hunt and go about their lives.

I have been running these great days now for sometime, where each month there are a few dates that this amazing event happens so if you wish to make an enquirey 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 group.  Big thank you to all the nice people I met this weekend, Roise, Martin, Stuart, Marjan.


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Winter Waders- Norfolk

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Dec.04, 2010

The name of this workshop could not have been better named ‘Winter Waders’, as our three days there were christened with freezing temperatures, treacherous conditions and in parts gridlock on the roads but all and all we made the very best of our time there.  My group had travelled from all over the UK in the coldest snap for December since records began, with one guest having come from Ireland I was really happy that the 7am start time on the first day that all guests had made the slow and dangerous journey safely.

The biting temperatures cut through us all on the first day forcing us to move more rapidly between the various sites and beeches that I know, as the wind and penetrating temperatures worked against us, but the guys were great and we still were able to capture images on this cold introduction to Norfolk.

We had some good sightings on the first day using a mixture of fieldcraft and a touch of luck.  Thousands of Pink, Greylag, Brent geese filled the sky.  They were all over the place due to the strong, prevailing winds driving in from the coastline.  A lot of them were flying above the clouds which made it hard to see but their calls could be heard no matter what.  When the clouds did break briefly the sun came through and we were lucky, and had a few lovely encounters.

I can never predict or promise that the wildlife will turn up and my attuide has always been that there is always an image to be had or captured no matter what, so with the weather being so bad we still were able to capture some lovely images of waders and other wildlife that spend their time in Norfolk.  During our time there the weather was a mixed bag, with the snow not hitting this part of the UK on the first day or so.  However, the following morning we were scrapping the snow off our windowscreens and thats when we knew the snow had caught up with us. The Geese were on the move really early in the mornings and it became hard to capture clean shots of them flying over, but most of the guys had wide angles so we were all able to capture the Geese overhead.

I showed different technique’s to the group, panning, waiting until they were straight over head to add drama, low in the frame, minimal ground, slower shutter speed for the wing blur, capturing impending movement within the image, something I have always loved to do.

Daytime temperatures rarely broke past freezing point but as we moved around different sites it became less of a problem until you remained still, which happened mainly when we were photographing different waders and gulls low on the ground for some time, to obtain a more personal point of view. I love to capture behaviour within my style of wildlife photography and this image of an adult Herring Gull trying to stay upright in the strong winds was very funny to see.  Using the light available I composed him so that the image coveys an air of menace to the gull, which I really liked, with one side of him lit and the other in dark.

The wind was causing all sorts of problems and we saw many different waders in ones and twos, blown off course, struggling to land and stay on the ground as they were trying to feed on what ever they could find.

The pattern of events over the next few days were similar, anticipating what the weather had in store and if the wind would drop, watching and photographing the winter waders and migrants and also spending sometime with the Barn Owls.  We were also lucky that it never rained over the three days as this increased our chances of seeing Barn Owls, even though the ground was frozen.  The days are shorter and the light is less during the winter months and if the ground is permanently frozen the Barn Owls primary prey of fieldvoles and other rodents tend to stay huddled together during the coldest spells at night, only really venturing out during the day which makes for the best times to see Barn Owls hunting during really cold spells.

On most of the days we saw the Owls, hunting with real purpose, diving with such force as to break the covering of snow on the ground, at the same time capturing their prey.  The majority of the time they seemed to fail but on the odd occasion they stayed on the ground where they could have been eating their prize as quickly as possible, replenishing much needed supplies of energy to survive. They were hunting in fog, snow and windy weather, such was the need to feed.  I always feel uncomfortable seeing nature work at a pace which is dictated by the conditions, right on the line on survival but such is nature where they say only the strong survive, but for me still very uncomfortable to see.

On the final evening the clouds broke and we had a lovely sunset, the colours lit up the horizon, the sky full of geese, the sounds of which sounded almost like surroundsound as the geese were having their final feed, then heading off to their overnight roost sites.

Thank you to all my guests who came on my workshop, great company.  I hope you got a lot out of the three days and even with the the weather against us we were still able to capture lovely images and at the same time see this beautiful coastline.  I look forward to seeing a few of your images,  many thanks.


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Spring Tide At Norfolk

Filed in Events, Photography Tips on Aug.12, 2010

There a few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring Tides that start in earnest from this month onwards and for me herald the onset of the Autumn and Winter months,where the seasons change from the Spring/Summer into the Autumn and Winter.

Having just returned for a wonderful One To One day with Mike Breedon from South Yorkshire,where it was his wish to learn more about wildlife photography after contacting me through my website,the skills I use,expert fieldcraft,lens techniques,light,camera settings and so fourth, the venue Mike chose was one of the Spring Tide/Barn Owl days I run.

The weather was amazing throughout the day,with the morning light being one of the best I’ve seen in years of coming to this beautiful place Snettisham is,with its moon-like landscape,vast open spaces,where thousands of birds fly past you,feet away,its just an amazing place to be during these Spring Tides they are now beginning to happen on this beautiful stretch of the North Norfolk coastline.

During a Spring Tide most if not all of the estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater.Out on the mud and sand flats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide,as the tides rises,the mud and sand flats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea.They then take off,and fly in vast and awesome flocks towards you on the beech at Snettisham,a place that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats.

Some of the birds from Geese,Redshanks,Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers are wonderful to watch in flight as the fly overhead escaping the oncoming tide,but for sheer size and show the smaller waders,such as Dunlin,Knots really steel the show for me.They perform for the gathering public that make the early start to witness one of natures most amazing spectacles.These smaller waders gather in great ,dense packs and lines,almost like bee swarms,rising,falling,twisting and turning all in perfect,rhythmic sweeps and stalls,before pouring into the roost site like falling hailstones.

Once they have landed they seem like they are not quite happy,un-decided its safe from birds of prey that circle the sky on the lookout for an easy breakfast.So up they come and do it all again,twisting and turning in the sky,until, once again they land almost in the same or close to where they were in the first place.When the birds are in the sky they are almost as one,one minute dark,the next silvery white,turning their backs to you,then their pale undersides in a show of coordination that’s second to none.I have never seen two birds make contact,making this site a truly magical event to witness in nature.

I have a few more dates free between now and December so should you wish to book or just found out a little more on these dates,my One To Ones,Workshops and how I run them then please send me an email here or call me on the number provided

Mike came away from the day with some great best practises I feel,where I was able to help him to understand the concept of capturing wild animals within their natural environments,in turn showing the general public where these birds,animals live,feed and breed and how they conduct their lives within the habitats around us.

Mike sent me his thoughts on the day-

Looking at my own images compared to other professional and amateur wildlife photographers I thought I needed a push to get to the next stage in order to improve in all areas of photography, field craft, and composition and general wildlife photography skills. I decided the best way would be to go to a total stranger who would hopefully recognise my faults and shortfalls and then not be afraid to show me where I was going wrong. I was fortunate to find Craig’s website which was easy to follow, looked clean, tidy and well organised and very professional as well as indicating that the type of One to One day he was offering matched all my requirements. I was not disappointed, I found Craig to match his website, easy to get on with, very informative, very professional and passionate about all aspects of wild life in its own environment, willing to offer advice and teach field craft skills in such a manner that made it all fit together to make the day good value for money. Professionalism was evident right the way through the long day even down to the standard of the packed lunch, a great day Craig and one which completely fit my requirements. Now all I have to do is try to put all that information and the practices into action. Now then, what did Craig say about composition.
Regards
,Mike Breedon, South Yorkshire

The importance of simple composition,giving the images room to ‘Breath’ and the most important tool in the box of being a wildlife photographer, which is fieldcraft,approaching subjects without causing them distress,using the cover available to break up your shape and silhouette where the wildlife will see you before you know it.

Using simply techniques to establish the wind direction,reading tracks,helping you to see whats around you and many more things I know and teach on these day(s) all major factors in getting close to wild animals.Which I have mastered in over 30 years of love and passion for wildlife alongside my expert fieldcraft skills from my military background,giving the client the very best in wildlife photography on all the events I run.

All my One To Ones,Photo-Tours,Workshops are run along the same lines,with my great passion for nature being one of the key elements in showing and teaching people how to have a contact with nature,which is all around them,by watching,listening,hearing nature,which in turns builds a picture of whats happening around you at that time.The camera skills I show are the same ones that I use and that have improved my own wildlife photography.

I do this in many ways,one of which is to show the client(s) how I use my own camera,illustrating the processes at first hand,giving an insite into which and what settings I use,showing techniques in camera,composing the image in different ways and showing the clients the ideas I have etc.I feel this is a very powerful learning tool for people that attend my workshops.

I hope that has helped you all to see how passionate I am about everything within nature, and what nature means to me,any questions then please don’t hesitate to contact me.A big thank you to all those of you that have emailed me wishing me luck in my first Birdfair next week.Those of you that are going please drop by Marquee 6 to say hello to my wife and I,where you will see a selection of some of my work in framed,mounted or canvas format for sale,alongside many other iteams.

Should you wish to ask for any advice on wildlife photography etc then  drop by and ask I’ll be more than happy to help you.Also please give as much money as you can in their Auction this year as this helps projects,Birdlife all around the world.I have a limited Edition Framed Tiger print I have given to help,and its lot number 83 so please bid as much as you can to help the great cause’s Birdfair help each year Many thanks.


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Just Press The Button

Filed in Articles on Jul.01, 2010

I’ve just returned from two wonderful One To One days in Norfolk that a client from Scotland:Bobby had booked with me.I’m always happy when people make the effort in booking onto one of my trips or One To Ones,where in Bobby’s case traveling some distance I took care of everything, the hotel booking,food,packed lunch the lot so no matter how far the client has to travel to attend one of my trips I pull all the stops out,enabling them to ‘Just Press The Button’ and enjoy and capture the chosen wildlife they have asked to photograph and learn more about.

I find the task of meeting a stranger in the early hours of a new day not a problem as I do really like helping people to take better images,where I teach it all from expert fieldcraft,crafted over many years of being at one with nature right through to the camera settings,pressing home all the time that wildlife photography is for everyone,where good images can be obtained with effort and patience.My passion for nature ever present and I show the beauty of whats around us all,where I share my skills and information  from the moment someone attends my trips/One To One days,so when they go home they do so in the knowledge they have learned in parts, the skills,setting,knowledge of nature that I know and use and over time with practise and patience their work will improve as mine has done.

Barn Owl

The key target when I am heading east from my Staffordshire home to Norfolk is the beautiful Barn Owl-‘The Ghost’ as call them as you can be waiting for some time,then from know where this white bird appears,almost like a ghost,perfectly silent in flight,going about its business,quartering the fields on the look out for rodents and small voles,briefly looking up at you with its ‘Disc-Like’ face,giving you a split second look at their beautiful faces.My preference has always been to get into place before the light comes up,using camouflaged clothing,and place yourself in nature, where by watching,listening and observing what is happening around you you can start buildling a picture of whats happening around and over time this for me is the best tool to learn with regard wildlife photography and one I always press home on any workshops/trips I run.

The weather in Norfolk was’nt great,but on the first night we where afforded a beautiful sunset,where I was dreaming the Barn Owl would fly past,but some dreams are just to big and will always remain just that,dreams.The colour from the sunset turned the whole place a red/orange colour,it was just amazing to watch with no wind you could here a pin drop,just the noise of the waves breaking the perfect silence.

Sunset

Bobby managed some great shots and also some wide-angled landscape image,where there is always an image to be had even in the absence of wildlife.The two days went to quick,with only the images on my hard drive now to remind me of my latest trip to Norfolk.I tired to capture the Barn Owl within the farmland habitat in which it share’s its life alongside humans,where there is the close contact between these two and where the Barn Owl seems to be thriving with good numbers of these birds all over Norfolk

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

For me the Barn Owl never stops thrilling me with its presence,it is a really popular bird within the general public, when you catch one flying around on its quest for food it is just amazing to watch this master at work.This year I have witnessed them feeding in pouring rain,something I reported on in an early blog and behaviour I’ve never seen before.With the recent cold spell at the beginning of the year,one of the coldest in over 50 years, the Barn Owl struggled to feed itself and in some areas numbers have been down,but the real damage of this spell of weather won’t be truly known for some time yet.

I have released a Limited Edition Barn Owl image,with only 100 prints available.Where I had observed this male Barn Owl for sometime during our recent cold spell, I watched as he hunted over snow-covered ground. Here he is captured stopping and hovering over prey, just short of where I was laying down on the freezing ground. I could here his wings flapping during the brief time he hovered then moved on. To celebrate that beautiful moment in nature alongside my own love for Barn Owls I have brought out this Print.Where you can buy with or without a frame by clicking here and scroll down

Barn Owl

A lot of my work and prints can be viewed this weekend as I have a display at the Pavilion Gardens,Buxton,Derbyshire.and I’m just making the final adjustments to my stand and choosing the images I will display and sell to the public.Its great to see my work in print as to often its just left on the computer or used at a much reduced Jpeg size,where the detail cannot be truly seen.So if you are in the area this weekend please pop in to say hello and if I can be of any help,or questions on wildlife photography etc than please ask.

CJWP


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Art And Craft Fair

Filed in Events on Jun.28, 2010

I will be displaying my work at this weekends Art And Design event at the beautiful Pavilion Gardens,Buxton,Derbyshire-3rd,4th July.Fine art prints,canvases,my Limited EditionTiger Prints, and much more will be on display,also four-coming trips,news and advice.There are more events throughout the summer planned which included this years Birdfair in August

The event showcasts the very best in: Art,Furniture,Ceramics,Silverware,Glassware,Jewellery,Textiles,Photography and so many other design led products from across the region.Its set in the Victorian extravaganza of cast iron glass,which offers newly refurbished facilities including cafes,coffee bar,gift boutique,and art gallery set in this historic listed building,all set in wonderful gardening.I will be on hand to answer any questions in regard to wildlife photography as I operate an ‘Open’ door policy where I enjoy helping and showing people how to take better images of nature with my simply approach and techniques I employ and use myself.So if you are about in the area on Saturday or Sunday please pop in and say hello.

Avocet At Dawn

Barn Owl Hunting At Dawn

In the mean time I have just returned from Norfolk working on some of my projects there and tomorrow I am setting off again for two days where a client has booked two days with me,so really looking forward to that as at present my camera is never away I am that busy.Looking forward to this weekend in Buxton and meeting those that can make it,in the meantime good luck with your photography.

CJWP


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What A Difference A Week Makes

Filed in In the Press, Workshops on Apr.20, 2010

Over the last week British airports have been plunged into chaos due to Iceland’s ‘Eyjafjallajokull’ Volcano having erupted,with the further eruptions daily its causing havoc around the world with British and European airspace at a stand still.I’ve been glued to the TV watching for a small window of opportunity that may arise and get everyone moving again included myself as I wait to see if I can fly to India to photography the Tigers Of RANTHAMBHORE under the guidance of the brilliant Tiger man; Aditya Singh.Three months in the planning,visa,injections,saving, everything right down the the socks I’ll be wearing each day balances now on the decisions of officials whether or not British airspace will open.Proposed plans of opening are being banded about all the time and I just hope I can re-book as my flight was this morning so the clock is ticking,I must add British Airways have been fantisic and I will never travel with anyone else again even if I have to pay more,their customer service,help has been second to none,fingers crossed for another flight.

While this was going on I enjoyed a brilliant 3 days on my Spring Waders workshop,the weather was really kind to us all,the group was a mixture of different people,from all walks of life and varying degrees of wildlife photographic knowledge.Most,if not all of the species of birds showed up which was brilliant as I take great pride in my work and knowledge of the various areas I know and try when and where possible to deliver exactly what it says on the tin eg ‘Spring Waders At Norfolk’ and that’s what they all got and more so I was over the moon.

Avocet

Avocet Feeding

The Avocets were at Norfolk in good numbers,each year the population seems to increase which is great news for this most elegant of  birds.Bar-Tailed Godwits and here to in very good numbers,competing for the same rich habitat and feeding grounds as the Avocets.Each morning started with a dawn trek to a number of different places some for Barn Owls,others for Avocets,and other Waders feeding as the new day broke,after a couple of hours it was back for a good hearty breakfast in our beautiful Norfolk Hotel situated in one of the many tranquil little villages on the North Norfolk Coastline.Then collect our packed lunches and out for the whole day traveling to the many different and devise habitats Norfolk has to offer.

Bar-tailed Godwit

In the evenings after the sunset which we where really lucky happened on most evenings it was back for our evening meal,followed by a sideshow of images from the guests ,where all my help and advice on how,why they took the images was on offer,for me it was great to show simply ideas I implement in my own work,by showing examples of the photographs I take to the group and the reasoning behind each image, people learned alot I feel in a relaxed environment,a perfect place in which to learn from others in my eyes.A gentlemen called Steve Harford wrote a lovely few words below I thought I’d post them,not to show off or to gain from it but just to show people small changes+help can turn someones photography around, by passing on your knowledge to others and seeing their own improvements is the reason I run workshops, as one of my strongest assets is to show,help others in taking better images, at the same time taking in nature around you,where you can take home what I teach and show,applying the tips,advice into your everyday photography once back home,its that simply.

“I spent a wonderful time with Craig in Norfolk. Craig was really inspirational and made me think much more, particularly about my photographic composition. His love of wildlife and the countryside around us was infectious. In the past, like so many others, I had concentrated on what I would call “bird portraits”. They can be beautiful and I will continue with them to some extent but Craig made me realise that there is so much more. Photographs where birds and their behaviour are an important part of the overall image but are captured in their natural environment. The day was so important in making me reassess the fundamentals of the photographic image and I feel he has helped to equip me to becoming a better photographer as a result of it”..Steve Harford,Oakham,April 2010

Barn Owl

Hiding Barn Owl

The Barn Owls at several locations where out in force,hunting,quartering looking for small rodents,we all watched this female above,when she became tired she went to ground to to gain a small rest,I captured her doing just this above at the same time keeping an eye on us all even through we where will camouflaged and hidden.We had some beautiful views and I was chuffed to bits the group got some great images not only from this day but all through the workshop.I’d like to thank everyone that came for your company,I hope I have helped you see nature in a different light at the same time helping with your own composition,fieldcraft and connection with nature.A great trip and looking forward to next year where I will have to increase the numbers such was the interest in this trip.

Oystercatcher

Avocets Courtship

Between now and my Winter Waders workshop in December I will be running’ One Day’ trips to Norfolk where the day starts at Dawn at a Barn Owl site,then onto the Waders and the many other birds and wildlife that choose to live in Norfolk,rounding the day off in the evening light again at one of the many Barn Owl sites.From August onwards the famous High Tides at Norfolk will be really good and these One day trips have been planned to coincide with these dates to make it a spectacular day for your wildlife photography,for more information and dates please send me a message on my Contact form or alternatively fill in the booking form on my One To One workshop.

Reed Bunting

I continue to hope and prey I can fly to India to photograph the Tigers,if not it will be a cruel end to a much planned  trip,and at the same time I canceled my trip to Sweden for this trip, where I was going to photograph Capercaillie,at this rate I won’t have neither.Things happen for a reason I believe and I hope everyone who is away from home/loved ones can get back asap.

CJWP


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Countryfile Photographic Competition 2009

Filed in Articles, In the Press on Oct.10, 2009

My photograph taken of a female Barn Owl with prey flying over farmland in Norfolk at dawn made it to the final 50 in the ‘Countryfile Photographic Competition 2009’, chosen from nearly 33,000 entries.Joe Brand had picked my image out on the programme on BBC1 as one she liked saying  ‘I liked this,a barn owl flying home with food’

Barnowl

 

The image was taken in the first rays of sunlight and I got into place at around 4.00am and waited, then this female dived for something to my front and I followed her in my camera’s viewfinder as she flew straight towards me with this vole she had caught.With the poor light it was hard to get any shutter speed to freeze the action and out of many this one was the best with this beautiful pink,morning light as the sun came up in the left of this photo.

A moment I will treasure forever and never forget as Barn Owl’s are one of my favorite birds and to have seen this was great.


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