Entries Tagged ‘Spring Tide’:

Changing Seasons-Spring Tides

Filed in Wildlife, Workshops on Sep.20, 2013

A major sign for me that the onset of Autumn and Winter is around the corner are the Spring Tides that happen around our coastline at this time of year symbolising the changing seasons, as we leave the Summer and enter into the lovely, warming colours of Autumn where the trees lose their coat of leaves, left exposed and bare to the elements, to the frosty Winter mornings, with the winter sunset proceeding over frozen landscapes where things take just that bit longer to awaken.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

No where does this amazing spectacle happen better than on the North Norfolk coastline, an area that supports thousands of Waders, Geese, and other birds during our Autumn and Winter months.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A brief  explanation of these Spring Tides is when the gravitational effects of the Sun and the Moon combine, resulting in these Spring Tides which have nothing to do with the season of spring.  The term refers to the action of the seas springing out and then springing back.  These are times of high high tides and low low tides.  A spring tide occurs when the moon is in its second and fourth quarters, more commonly known as the new and full moon phases respectively.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

You get them all year but their numbers are greater during our Autumn and Winter months resulting in this amazing experience, accompanied with the sights and sounds of nature you’ll never forget. I have spent the last three days there with clients who booked  these Spring Tide/Barn Owl days I run.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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, a truly amazing site within our wonderful wildlife in this country.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Knot, Dunlin and other waders were arriving each day, their numbers increasing all the time forming their customary aerial flocks where they fly inches from each other, twisting and turning, a breathtaking site to witness. My clients captured some great images and have taken away valuable advice and tips, and techniques that I use and apply to my own photography, where I show and teach not only these but concentrate on fieldcraft, the habitat and the environment of the subject, reading what is happening around you.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

All of these skills can be taken home by the client and applied to their own photography where hopefully over time they will help to increase and improve their overall photography skills, techniques and images, as this is the main aim of all the one to one/workshops that I do.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

The weather during this time would be best described as a mixed bag, the sun broke through and rose in the east lighting up this beautiful yet bleak place on a couple of the mornings.  We had a amazing sunset on some of the evenings, alot of the time though it was overcast but the clouds did clear after  a few light showers. The light is amazing just after rain, where the atmosphere is cleansed and there is a clearer light perfect for taking photographs. The numbers of Oystercatchers were high where they like to form large flocks on the land, constantly calling with their piercing call.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I always say to clients that there is always a shot to be had so while we were waiting for the larger flocks I wanted to show and demonstrate the effect of using aslow shutter speed  and what it can produce, where a sense of movement in the subject is frozen and captured giving the image a sense of impending movement.  Adding a little drama to a photograph, as shown below with a flock of Knot altogether on the sandbanks. Freezing that movement, and adding movement to the image as well as making the most of the overcast conditions where the photographs look like they are taken in black and white.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

There are so many different subjects to photograph on the Norfolk coastline that its a wildlife photographers dream in my eyes, and a great place to learn about these subjects and these amazing events by watching and capturing their behaviors, flight patterns and so fourth. Where all the birds are being pushed closer to the shoreline by the incoming spring tide, forcing them closer to the shore, landing, taking flight until the very last piece of land is submerged by the sea, all the time the birds fly around in vast numbers mostly for protection avoiding the raptors that work this stretch of coastline in large numbers looking for an easy meal.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

It was a great few days for all my clients and I was really happy that they got some if not all of the shots that they wanted.  We  finished off each day at one of the many different Barn Owl sites I know in Norfolk.  They weren’t disappointed with views of the female and male quartering and hunting for food.  We also had a viewing of their young which was brilliant to see.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

With the changing seasons, come changing wildlife, and throughout the Autumn/Winter period I will be running many different days capturing the stunning wildlife the UK has to offer during our shorter months. Mountain Hares in the Peak District, the only place outside of Scotland you can see them, Fallow and Red Deer rutting at two different sites, Whooper Swans start arriving to spend their Winters with us, these days are on the North-West Coast of the UK.  Short-Eared Owls and Raptors on this coastline also. All these days and many more can be booked either through my one to ones or the workshops page seen here.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

One of my clients, Steve Tucker has wrote a wonderful review I wanted to share with you. Hes a well schooled photographer in his own rights. I have had the pleasure of his company now twice and he’s had some wonderful images and encounters on both days. To read his review please click here.

I’d like to thank all my clients for your company over the last three days, its been great to show you the amazing wildlife and events that happen in this part of the UK. I will be running these Spring Tides/ Barn Owl days throughout the year so should you wish to find out more information on these amazing days or any other the other brilliant days I have mentioned here then please send me an email  many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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Always Inspired

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Oct.28, 2011

Inspiration can come in many forms and from many different avenues I believe, personally I get inspired by many different things, most of which are visual, where words dont need to be spoken, let the image speak for you and inspire those to see the wonderful world of wildlife and the subjects it supports. Over the last two weeks I have been working on my own projects at the same time working with clients in improving their own photography while seeing and witnessing that inspiration, which for me is nature.  Watching nature and capturing her beauty is a wonderful thing where I am at total peace,surrounded by her beauty.

Over the weekend I visited London for the annual WildPhotos 2011, a selection of the best photographers go through their work, how they work and tips etc which I find very inspiring and during the 3 years I have visited this event it never fails to ignite yet more passion in me. This year I had a nice surprise as the editor of the BBC Wildlife magazine, Sophie Stafford used one of my images, kissing Puffins so show the audience what the magazine look for when it comes to images submitted and different looks etc.

The image captures two Puffins kissing each other and going through their bonding process with the onset of the breeding season ahead of them. Nice moment as I sat there and looked up at this Puffin image, remembering the moment I captured them like it was yesterday. BBC wildlife magazine chose my image “Kissing Puffin’s for a full page spread in their June issue.

Last week I visited several different areas around the UK to photograph the annual deer rut, this year with the added warm temperatures and the warmest October since records begin it seems to have never really reached its peak, instead just slowly building with action and deer still calling and claiming their females as I write this.

I witnessed fighting, gentle young Fallow Deer learning their skills from their mums within the different habitats I visited from open grasslands to dense woodland that offered the deer a safe place to hide, making the process of finding them just that bit harder.

I witnessed some beautiful moments along with the males fighting for control over their females. I’d got into place just before dawn at all the places I visited, some I got really lucky at others the deer failed to show. One morning I was feet away from two fallow Deer’s stags fighting, t he noise of that smashing in to each other could be heard from far and wide such was the brute force. Then on the other hand I saw a young Fallow Deer following her mum through the thick cover only to become separated and disoriented.

The image below captures that special moment , soon after she caught up with her mum and everything was fine again.

Nature is wonderful to be around and spend time alongside where I am always inspired everytime. The places I go and also run my trips and workshops too always come up with something different and I am constantly learning more and more about the subjects or the environments and animal behaviours.

After my trip to London on Saturday just gone I had almost back to back one to ones in the Peak District, on my Mountain Hares workshop and then mostly in Norfolk for Barn Owls and two Spring tide days with the predicted high tides. Living out of my bag and just having time to charge my cameras batteries along with my own has been the routine but I love every minute. Helping clients take better photographs and learning more about their own equipment is something I pride myself on during the time spent with clients.

Over the three days we had a mixture of weather, sunshine, rain but on the hold the weather was kind to all my clients which is something I always wish for. As the dawn broke each morning the thousands of geese would travel in from their overnight coastal roost site and head inland to feed during the day light hours, before heading back out just before dusk.  The skies where full of calls,shapes,formations over our heads and it was amazing to witness. The dawn light was just amazing, with the cloud formations creating a very beautiful feel to those mornings with their shapes and colours.

The light was just stunning as the sky filled with geese and also waders during these spring tide days. Norfolk is famous for its winter flocks of geese, wildfowl and waders who begin to gather here to make their home during our winter months, amazing spring tides with thousands of Waders being pushed up the beach as the tide works its way in covering the mud and sand flats, submerging the whole estuary.

Once the majority of these areas have been consumed by the sea the birds are forced into the ‘Pits’ which are behind the beach where the RSPB have built a number of hides from which you can watch this amazing spectacle. Where large flocks of Knot, Dunlin, and Oystercatchers come into roost escaping the tide, forming great masses of birds as they all move and sleep in a synchronized manner.

The birds almost fly as one, one minute dark the next flashing silvery-white as they all turn one way their dark backs are facing you, then their pale undersides, in a show of coordination that is second to none, all without a signal or mishap. I have never seen any two birds ever make contact in all the years I’ve witnessed this beautiful site.

The only time you see them make any form of contact is on the ground when they hustle together shoulder to shoulder. The return to the mudflats once the tide starts to retreat is a less coordinated affair, but the smaller flocks still reward you with some fine performances. It can be a really quiet place most of the time, with the Waders feeding on the mudflats some distance away on the estuary, but on these high tides the place is awoken with a bang, bursting to life, and for me the place never disappoints, with so much going on it truly is one of nature’s wonders.

Once the sea starts to retreat it exposes the vast mudflats and this is when all the waders return back to feed on the rich food sources of the mudflats that make up this area of Norfolk.

On the last morning though the weather wasn’t the best,with overcast conditions, I took a few hi-key images that morning, capturing a different feel within the images. I covered this technique on my blog under photography tips sometime ago now, click here to read it.

After our time on the beach we leave and head around the many places I know around this stretch of North Norfolk’s coastline.  From my first visit on the Sunday I had witnessed some amazing behaviour while watching some Black Tailed Godwits. From a hide we watched as different adults would be feeding one minute then the next warn each other off, or away from the food source they were feeding on. Most went their own ways and there was peace, but a few times that peace was shattered with some of the most violent behaviour I have seen in birds.

Each bird would try to drown the other, forcing their heads under the water, the bird that submitted would then escape as quickly as possible. It was difficult to witness as we all watched on the three days we were there, with each client being amazed at this action at the same time a little taken aback such was the level of aggression.

The following series of images will hopefully show you what happened during these hard to watch moments. Nature is so beautiful, but at times so cruel too, where only the strong survive, this was a perfect example.

Truly breathtaking behaviour to see and capture this was, the bird seen being moved off was unhurt be the ordeal of being drown so everything was ok in the end. On these spring tide or Norfolk days I run we always finish the days at one of the Barn owls sites I know there hoping to capture this most beautiful on birds at work, hunting.  The owls showed up for all my clients which was nice as the sun set and once in the morning light,showing just what a master they are at hunting and flying silently.

Know matter how many times I visit an area I never fail to be inspired but something I witness, there’s always a different take on what I may have already witness. Many different images to be taken because you just do not know whats around the corner when you photography wild animals, this has been and always will be my greatest enjoyment while observing nature.

A big thanks you to all my clients over the last week, thank you for your company and I wish you all the best within your own wildlife photography.

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Early Spring in Norfolk

Filed in Photography Tips, Workshops on Apr.24, 2011

Spring is my favourite time of year, an amazing array of colours, fresh life and wildlife, this season is truly amazing within the different season we have during the year.  Having just returned from my Early Spring in Norfolk photo tour which I run every spring and 3 days of one to ones added on, its been a busy week with a amazing weather.  Early Spring photo trip is a full 3 days exploring the beautiful countryside of Norfolk at the same time staying at one of the best Hotels serving stunning local food, the perfect base to come back to from a day in the field. I had a great group of clients and a real pleasure showing you around Norfolk, at the same time giving you real help to improve your photography, fieldcraft and general understanding of the subjects we encountered and photographed.

Catching the season moving from winter into spring is a beautiful time, the wildlife of the Norfolk coast comes alive.  It is a place that is blessed with a rich and varied wildlife heritage, famous for its wild north coast, the rivers, lakes and marshes of the Broads and the sandy heaths. There are also the fens, grasslands and ancient woods within the wider farmed countryside, all beautiful places where we encountered many photographic opportunities during this photo tour. My knowledge of the North Norfolk Coast helped the group in seeing some of the best places along this beautiful coastline ensuring that they all captured some lovely images.

These 2 x three day photo trips I run every year,one in Spring and the other one in Winter are designed to show you as much of the wildlife and their own habitats as i can during these two trips, whilst at the same time balancing that with the best opportunities to capture the wildlife here.  The weather throughout the week was as kind as it could possibly be, with morning light and evening light offering lovely photographs for the entire group. Every morning on the roof apex a lone male Blackbird would fill the air with what has to be for me the most beautiful call of the British countryside. Standing as proud as punch as we are packed for the days adventures below him.

On the first morning we visited the predicted Spring Tide which was forecast alone with the full moon. Upon arriving we are had some lovely mist and sun rise shots, where I pointed out different images, suggested different compositions etc, all in tern designed to make the group grow within their own photography.  At the same time showing them that the beauty of photography is what the person chooses to capture when they look through their own viewfinder, and never to be restricted to one or two shots, this is how I learned.  There were lots of Bar and Black tailed Godwits gathered and cleaning, and some sleeping with their deep summer plumage warming the slight chill in the air.  They are such a beautiful and striking bird at this time of year and a firm favourite with the group on the day.

We then headed to a great little gem of a site with Barn Owls, Hares and Marsh Harrier all living in close proximity to each other, a mixture of rough grazing, farmland and marshland.  This amazing little place really is a little sanctuary for wildlife.  There are a pair of Marsh harrier living and nesting there, some distance away and protected from the shoreline by a small pool of water.  We watched and saw some amazing behaviours between them both, flying in, dropping into their nest site.  For some it was the first time witnessing this beautiful bird.  Marsh Harriers are doing really well in the county of Norfolk with several nest sites littered along its coastline.

Each afternoon, taking us into the evening we’d settle at one of the groups favourite places and capture whatever would show.  Throughout the several days there the Barn Owl actively was really quiet, with little or no sightings at the several sites I know, plenty of white feathers, pellets and pooh markings though.  My conclusion was they maybe sitting on eggs.  During this time one bird sits on the eggs whilst the other sleeps so their combined actively is really small, only venturing out to feed so fingers crossed they are still around and not been disturbed at any of the sites.

At one of the sites while we waited for the Owls to show, there is a  good amount of Brown Hare, so we all voted as a group to try our luck at these while we waited for the main act to show.  When I go somewhere new I always have a look around , east and west for the respective light source, as light equals speed, speed equals sharp images.  I demonstrated to the group some tracking and fieldcraft skills that they can remember and maybe take home with themselves and apply in their own work, going through the behaviours I have learned on the said mentioned subjects.

Over the last few days we visited this site a few times and everyone came away with some great shots, where I demonstrated the different composition options and encouraged the group to push their own boundaries in regard to how they see an image. On one of the mornings the sun was coming up and the hares were chasing and playing almost underneath the suns rays, so some careful fieldcraft and slow approach got us into place for some nice and very different images I felt, capturing that beautiful and atmospheric morning we all encountered.

Lighting, mist,sun and subject all coming together on those rare moments when all photography key elements work together. I chose to compose small in the frame, a style I love and here I was able to show a little of the habitat and the rising sun which adds so much to an image.  The Hares were fun to watch, even chasing off a Pheasant that was among the field, during other visits we witnessed two Hares following each other, the male behind the female constantly sniffing the female waiting for her to come into heat so he can breed with her.  The poor fellow was really hanging onto this female with stiff competition from other males knocking around,such great behaviour to watch where you learn some much about the subject all benefiting your work.

This male Hare seemed to be top dog and had a few females in his harlream,the battle scars are clear to see with a half chewed ear reminding me of Bigwig from the film Watership Down.  The first film I saw at the pictures. I also had a lovely encounter with a Wheatear who seemed to check me out as I was lying on the ground.  Here I composed the bird in the morning light with the dew from the grass reflecting light making a lovely, soft appearance to this image.

Had some lovely feedback from clients and Andrew Hall wrote :

“I would like to say a massive thank you for the fantastic time I had on your spring waders workshop Your willingness to share your knowledge and techniques was extremely refreshing from the guarded nature of most other professional photographers. The technical tips you gave helped to improve my photography, however the highlight for me was the amount of fieldcraft knowledge that I was able to gain Our time spent crawling and lying around the field photographing the Hares was fantastic and incredibly rewarding when we walked away with the photographs we had in mind at the start Once again a huge thank you and I look forward to future workshops/trips that I hope to do with you soon! I will never hesitate in recommend you to anyone and everyone”

David Naylor who attended a day in Norfolk with me :

After recently purchasing a new camera and years of average bird snaps from my old camera I took the recommendation from a friend and booked a day out with Craig in Norfolk. I can honestly say that in the first hour with Craig, albeit at 5.30 am, in a damp field, I leaned more about how to take really excellent photos than I have in the last 10 years of reading books and magazines. Craig covered all the basics of the camera then moved on to composition, exposure and auto-focusing and gave me real confidence in both myself and the equipment. We spent the rest of the day consolidating the advice in a variety of lovely locations and I am truly grateful to Craig for his open and informative tuition. Nothing is kept back and Craig shows you exactly how he takes truly superb photos. I cannot recommend Craig highly enough if you want to learn how to take better photographs”.  

More testimonals can be viewed here

Thank you to all my guests on the Early Spring in Norfolk, great company, great food and great weather, many thanks also to the three clients who booked one to ones in Norfolk.  I wish you all well and very nice to meet and help you all in improving your photography, at the same time learning more about the countryside amd fieldcraft.  I have a few days off now until my next photo tour to Texel.  My Texel trip starts on Thursday evening, co-hosted by my friend and fellow wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel from Holland.  

This beautiful island of Texel is full of birdlife at this time of year and if lasts years trip is anything to go by then the whole group is in for a real treat, its home to one of the most stunning and beautiful waders, the Black Tailed Godwit which was photographed from last years trip. I will update my blog on my return before heading to India to photography the amazing Bengal Tiger with clients booked onto my Tigers of India trip.

Best Wishes and Happy Easter.


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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.
,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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