In May 2013, NaturesLens ran a nature photography workshop at the Mid Wales Falconry Centre for their Welsh Owl & Raptor Spectacular.
All our clients had arrived the night before for a social meet & greet. The diversity of the group of photographers that joined us was only equalled by their love of photography. By the time dinner was in full swing, everyone was laughing & joking in a way that would make you think that this was a group of people who have known each other for a long time. The scene was set for one of our best nature photography workshops with a great group of photographers.
Upon arrival at the centre, we introduced our clients to the falconer & spent a quick 15 minutes running through the guidelines & types of images we would be focussing on during the workshop.
The great thing about this particular location is that we have the complete private use of all the lands & buildings which meant we could get better angles, composition & views of our subjects.
Sid, the Barn Owl looked perfectly at home peering round the open window of an old stone building. The ground surrounding the building was wet & muddy due to heavy rainfall the night before, but this did not deter our clients from getting their boots dirty to get their shots.
Throughout the workshop, NaturesLens tutors gave advice & tips on how to get the best out of their subjects, such as waiting for the bird to settle to down before taking a shot. When a bird settles they sit down, thus hiding anklets which otherwise would be visible. Or in the case of the Tawny Owl, having a little rouse.
Other suggestions included placing the Kestrel in gorse – this not only served to hide anklets & jesses but made a stunning background for the subject.
And then a very special treat arrived in the form of a female Buzzard with her kill.
This avian raptor allowed our clients to crawl towards her slowly in order to capture close-up shots – all under the watchful eye of the falconer. The entire group were so immersed in capturing shots of the Buzzard that they had to be reminded that they had a lunch reservation in the nearby pub!
Lunch was a leisurely affair since the midday sun is quite harsh at this time of year. This allowed the group to discuss the images they had taken during the morning & which welsh birds of prey were on the agenda for the remainder of the day.
The afternoon yielded a few more treats – a brief session with a Short Eared Owl. This owl is rarely found in captivity so to be able to photograph one is a very special opportunity.
Following this encounter, the group took a walk to the woods to hone their skills in panning & birds in flight photography.
One of our guides spotted a tree with a hole in its trunk – the perfect setting for a Little Owl. Placing the owl in the hole showed off its tiny stature & how well they camouflaged with their environment.
The location for the birds in flight session was open woodland. This type of photography is considered to be the most difficult type of bird photography; but with the right techniques, the hit rate for successful flight shots can be dramatically improved, making it possible to capture birds at their most spectacular.
To improve the hit rate further, a Great Grey Owl was chosen to be our bird in flight. It’s size & the fact that this owl flies low to the ground meant that even those who had never tried taking photos of a bird in flight were able to get images they were proud of.
Finally the workshop came to an end, enjoyed by NatureLens tutors, our clients & even the falconer who is always appreciative of people who take the time to know his birds. At the time of writing this report, the details for our Birds of Prey photo workshop in Wales for June 2014 have been finalised & it is starting to fill up.
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