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.