I have spent the weekend in the sleepy, tucked away county of Norfolk, one of my favourite places within the UK. A bounty of diverse birds and wildlife which enrich this area throughout the year, making this a mecca for wildlife loving people. I had clients with me during these two days on One To Ones covering the Spring Tides, Barn Owls and the many other species of wildlife that live along the North Norfolk coast, dominated by the Wash a large area of salt marsh which has one of the greatest concentrations of bird life within the UK, internationally important for many breeding birds and over-wintering wildfowl.
During the two days the weather became testing at times where the the sun stayed hidden behind a wall of cloud for the best part of the two days, just giving us enough light to capture some of the wildlife through photography. With an almost colourless appearance to most of the images from both days I have chosen to present them in a black and white manner or Monochrome as the term is better known, where you have to look further and deeper into an image to see what is captured within its frame.
Devoid of colour the human eye is forced to look right into the image, spending more time in the absence of colour which can often let you know which species is displayed. I have always loved black and white images, glimpses of a bygone era where you wonder in the absence of today’s technology how on earth they managed to capture such wonderful images.
Photography is the art of taking or making photographs, it is the creation of images by exposing film or a computer chip to light inside a camera. The word photography comes from Greek words meaning to write or draw with light. So by presenting these images in a black and white format from a well visited place I visit, it gives a different account of the images I capture during my many visits there during the year. Simple composition and strong elements are key to all photography, more so with black and white, where some images you take and review on the back of the camera will lend themselves very well to this monochrome format.
Black and White Photographs are among one of my favourite styles, both to look at and to create. Shooting for black & white is challenging, you immediately eliminate one of your building blocks of design; Colour. That’s one less tool that you have to compose with. Personally I am drawn to the beauty that is created by black and white and always have been. It makes the viewer focus on the strong compositions, textures and shapes as opposed to symbols, colours. Contrast in photographic composition is an effective means of directing the viewer’s attention to the centre of the interest. The positioning of the subjects elements to create contrast gives them added emphasis and directs the viewer’s attention all brought about in the absence of colour.
A photograph of wildlife on an overcast day can result in a dull photograph, but taking that same scene in black and white will help the viewer to see the contrasts and graphics of that image. Focusing on the emotions of the subject.
I have always said that there is always an image to be had from the moment I picked up a camera , if the main subject does not turn up then never put the camera down. This is the advice I always give to clients. Adopting this attitude and ‘can do’ approach will broaden your own ideas along with your creative style resulting in many interesting and different images from your encounters with nature, while at the same time learning new and exciting techniques within your own photography, which can cross over into many different formats of this discipline.
Animal behaviour is something I love to capture within my work. However simple you can learn so much from wildlife in general and more so the subject you are photographing. This is another ‘learn’ I like to show all my clients and it can make the difference to your photographs on a massive scale. During one of the days at Norfolk we were at one of the sites I know, where the incoming tides flood the gullies and inlets which provide great feeding for many different birds. The Turnstones were busy turning stones, foraging for food, doing all the leg work for often little reward in terms of food.
Black-headed Gulls watched them, perfectly still, not really attracting any attention, then in the next breath bully their way in after the Turnstones had found a food item. These couple of images show one Gull alone, watching a Turnstone feed, break open the mussel shell, for him to come in and steal the prize. I chose to focus on the Gull with the second image clearly showing him watching this poor Turnstone work on this food source he’d found, clearly showing the Gulls intentions.
How wonderful nature is in every form and these simple behaviours are right under our noses alot of the time. Always stay tuned in to where ever you are and never put the camera down. This is the very best advice I can give. My clients over the weekend hopefully went away with this and much more from the One To Ones– Spring Tides, Waders, Barn Owls days I run almost three times a month now throughout the year.
I show clients keys sights, go through their cameras and settings, I also cover fieldcraft, wind direction and the use of natural light, enabling all clients to go home with more tools in their ‘own box’, in turn helping to improve in all aspects of wildlife photography, at the same time showing behaviours in wildlife and the subject in question, looking for impending action and movement, using whats around you to hide and conceal your presence and much more during these action packed days.
If there is anything I have touched on here that interests you or you want any further information on workshops etc then please send me an email here . Thank you to Karl and Ingrid on Saturday and Jonathan on the Sunday for your company and I wish you all well in your photography.