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Dan reports in following a successful Skomer Island visit

I’m always filled with anticipation heading over to Skomer Island; the gannets, puffins & other auks flying around the boat as well as the sea rolling. In addition to that, on this occasion, we had very limited visibility into the sea mist creating a great atmosphere.

A variety of weather is something I quite like with photography but I’ll always keep my fingers crossed for at least one afternoon of killer golden light!

Alas, it was foggy for the first two days. However with these conditions we were able to experiment with high key simple portraits on a white background. The resulting photos looked as though we’d trained the puffins to pose in a studio environment.

High-key puffin photographed on a foggy day whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography HolidayHigh-key puffin calling photographed on a foggy day whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography HolidayA slow shutter speed puffin image captured on a foggy day whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday

The flat light allowed us to shoot all day & because of the time of year quite a few pufflings were exploring the area around their nesting burrows – a lovely sight. Here’s one just peaking out;

A puffling photographed as it peeked from the burrow whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday

The benefit of murky weather becomes apparent when waiting for the Manx Shearwaters – they come in earlier when compared to nights with a clear sky meaning a little longer in bed for us! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of wandering out across the island at night with the sound of just a small proportion of the 300,000 pairs that nest on the island curling around above our heads.

On our third & final day the island was blessed with lovely weather, it was 30 degrees & positively tropical. That day we enjoyed the nice weather waiting & hoping for it to continue into the afternoon & evening; & it did.

As the sun sets on the island & the light softens, the images take on a magical golden light - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday As the sun sets on the island, captured images take on a magical golden light - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday.

We had a wonderful sunset at the Wick with puffin numbers increasing as the light got better & better, everyone took a completely different set of photos when compared to the higher key images captured with the flat light.

As the sun sets on the island, captured images, such as this calling puffin, take on a magical golden light - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday.A silhouetted puffin photographed whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday As the sun set, the opportunity for backlit puffin images becomes available - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday As the sun sets on the island, captured images, such as this grouo of puffins, take on a magical golden light - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday.

Myself & one guest, John, stayed at the Wick well after dark to take some photos in the blue light & into the night. Having not done this before I found it great fun seeing the puffins’ activity at night.

As the sun sets the puffins remain active & distinctive images may be captured - photographed whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday Even when the sun has set the puffins still pose for images - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday

They continued to renovate their burrows, squabble & make their strange noises but the place felt a lot more serene!

After the sun has set the puffins remain active & calling for mates - captured whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday After the sun has set the puffins remain active & distinctive images may be captured - photographed whilst on the NaturesLens Puffins of Skomer Photography Holiday

All in all, it was simply another great trip to Skomer Island.

JOIN US TO PHOTOGRAPH THE ATLANTIC PUFFINS OF SKOMER ISLAND FOR YOURSELF

Skomer Island is one of the most important locations for the colonies of Atlantic Puffins in Europe & it is easy to see why. For photographers keen to add puffin images captured in different conditions & lighting to their wildlife portfolio, a three night stay on the island provides an abundance of opportunities. Our focus during the NaturesLens photography holidays are the comical puffins, which can be seen on Skomer in abundant quantities from mid-May through to July.

Our puffins of Skomer Island photography holiday costs £499 for the 3 night stay on the island & is held during the dates of July 15 – 18, 2017.

A selection of images from David Margetson captured on Skomer

We enjoy showing off what our photography tour & holiday participants achieve with us, so we’re happy to post this selection of images, captured by David Margetson whilst on the 2016 Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday; which was lead this year, with a small group, by Dan Trim for us.

A puffin on Skomer Island clutches a bill full of sand eels - photographed by David Margetson on the 2017 Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday

Staying on Skomer Island for 3 nights means you have the opportunity to re-visit images that you may have taken on earlier days & improve on them. Since island weather can be changeable, there is also the chance that you could end up with very different images from each day. Read more

A showcase of some of Kevin’s Atlantic Puffins of Skomer Island

Although he is a veteran of leading photography holidays for NaturesLens with multiple trips to Poland & Fair Isle under his belt, Kevin Morgans has yet to lead a trip for us to photograph the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer. Next summer, this changes, as he will be co-leading one of the regular trips that we run to Skomer Island. A popular trip that we’ve been running these for the last three years!

That said, Kevin is no stranger to puffin photography, or Skomer itself. He has lead our Puffins of Fair Isle Photography – you can read his report here – & he has visited & stayed on Skomer a number of times himself. The focus of these holidays is obviously the comical clowns of the sea & as such, we thought that our blog readers might like to see some of the recent additions to Kevin’s Atlantic Puffins of Skomer Photography Portfolio, since he was kind enough to send us a good selection of images for us to publish here in this blog post.

A serene portrait of one of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday A serene portrait of one of the Puffins of Skomer in the evening light.

The spectacular evening light provides a gentle catchlight in the eye of one of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday The spectacular evening light provides a gentle catchlight in the eye of one of the Puffins of Skomer Island.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, returns to the island having gathered many sand eels from out at sea - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday One of the Atlantic Puffins returns to dry land having gathered many sand eels from out at sea.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer preens itself amongst the sea campions that litter the island - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday A Puffin preens itself amongst the sea campion that litter the island.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun in the evening light - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday A beautiful image captured as one of Skomer’s Puffins was illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun in the evening light.

Having just landed with a great catch of sand-eels, one of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, shakes itself dry - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday Having just landed with a great catch of sand-eels, one of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, shakes itself dry.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, with a bill full of nesting material - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday A capture of an Puffin, with a bill full of nesting material, returning to its burrow on Skomer Island.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, gathering nesting material to line the burrow with - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday One of Skomer’s Puffins, seen here gathering nesting material to line the burrow with.

One of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, calling in the rain - typical of the image that you will be able to capture on the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday Calling in the rain, one of the Atlantic Puffins of Skomer, appears to be bemoaning the weather that Wales is often blessed with.

Kevin is co-leading the July Puffins of Skomer Island Photography Holiday in 2017. Additionally  he will be heading back to photograph the puffins of Shetland, more specifically Fair Isle’s colony.

JOIN US TO PHOTOGRAPH THE ATLANTIC PUFFINS OF SKOMER ISLAND FOR YOURSELF

Skomer is one of the most important locations for the colonies of Atlantic Puffins in Europe & it is easy to see why. For photographers keen to add puffin images captured in different conditions & lighting to their wildlife portfolio, a three night stay on the island provides an abundance of opportunities. Our focus during the NaturesLens photography holidays are the comical puffins, which can be seen on Skomer in abundant quantities from mid-May through to July.

Our puffins of skomer photography holiday costs £499 for the 3 night stay on the island & is held during the dates of July 15 – 18, 2017.

My thoughts on the Puffins of Fair-Isle

Fair Isle, measuring at just 3km wide & barely 5km long is Britain’s most remote inhabited island. It can be found marooned in the North Sea between Shetland & Orkney. Due to its location it is not the easiest place to get to. But once you set foot on the island, it truly is a puffin paradise & with almost 24 hours of daylight during June it is a photographers dream. The puffin population on Fair Isle may not be the biggest in the UK, but it is difficult to argue that it isn’t the most beautiful. Read on for my thoughts on the Puffins of Fair Isle & why Shetland, & in particular, Fair Isle, is one of the best locations to capture images of the comical clowns of the sea.

Posing with a gathered flower, one of Fair ISle's Puffins looks in a contemplative mood - photographed on the NaturesLens Puffins of Fair Isle Photographic Holiday Read more

Events

Shetland’s Puffins of Fair-Isle Photography Holiday

An offshore island so remote it feels like you are entering a community far removed from the rest of the world, Fair Isle is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, a jewel protected by soaring craggy cliffs, one moment bathed in sunshine the next topped by a crown of brooding fog.

Dramatic & untouched, our Shetland’s Puffins of Fair-Isle wildlife photography trip sets the scene for images so atmospheric; they are nothing short of mesmerising.

Posing with a gathered flower, one of Fair ISle's Puffins looks in a contemplative mood - photographed on the NaturesLens Shetland's Puffins of Fair-Isle Photographic Holiday

With just 70 islanders inhabiting Fair-Isle, the world famous bird population far outnumbers the island’s human caretakers. An internationally renowned bird observatory, Fair Isle’s tiny status – just 3 km wide & barely 5 km long – gives little hint to the world class seabird colony & migration research that goes on here.

Once home to Viking warlords, there is now no better place to experience Puffins up close than Fair Isle. In winter the hilly terrain is covered in snow & ice, in spring & summer blanketed in flowers. The puffins adapt accordingly, nesting in burrows & squeezing into crevices in the cliffs. The colony is naturally most active in early morning, virtually guaranteeing optimal lighting for nature photography.

Guided by award winning photographer Kevin Morgans, the NaturesLens Shetland’s Puffins of Fair-Isle photography trip offers an opportunity to add the distinctive brightly coloured bill & puffy cheeks of the Puffin to your photography portfolio.

A pair of Shetland's puffins against the dramatic coastline of Fair Isle - photographed on the NaturesLens Shetland's Puffins of Fair-Isle Photographic Holiday

The stated trip cost includes accommodation on Fair Isle on a full board basis, flight from Sumburgh to Fair Isle & ferry back from the island to Sumburgh. The itinerary is flexible in between the puffin sessions to allow you to photograph other species of birds such as Skua or go off on your own to explore the rest of the island.

One of the Atlantic Puffins sihouetted against the seas off Shetland - photographed on the NaturesLens Shetland's Puffins of Fair-Isle Photographic Holiday

WORKSHOP AVAILABILITY

Maximum 6 clients – Spaces available

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

Clothing

We recommend that you dress up warmly for early morning starts – it can get quite cold sitting in the hide in the early hours. Wearing layers is advisable so that they may be shed at a later stage where necessary.

For our boat trips, non-slip waterproof boots or wellington boots are recommended. As with most boats water can slosh through the scuppers if the boat rolls so sandals or light pumps can get wet and spoil your enjoyment.

  • Waterproof (and windproof) coat.
  • Warm trousers, preferably waterproof.
  •  Thermal clothing.
  •  Thermal socks.
  •  Non slip waterproof boots or wellington boots (no cleats or studs please).
  • Waterproof cap or hat.
  •  Gloves.
  •  Sunglasses.
  •  Warm fleece for early morning starts and once the sun has set.
  •  Clothing for hide work should be camouflage or neutral browns & greens.
  •  Water bottle or flask for tea & coffee.
  •  Sunscreen.
  •  Travel sickness pills.
Camera Equipment

  • Digital camera body.
  • Lenses in the range 70mm – 500mm.
  • Lenses with f2.8 will give the best light capture and speed of focussing.
  • An alternative to long telephoto lenses is a tele-converter (e.g. 1.4x or 2x).
  •  Monopod or tripod.
  • Remote shutter release.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare battery.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  •  Camera and lens waterproof cover.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device – we will be shooting lots of images.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

The residential workshop itinerary is subject to change & is to be considered provisional.

NaturesLens residential workshops require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient residential workshop places are not sold the residential workshop may not be run, this residential workshop has a minimum participant level of 4 plus NaturesLens guide(s).

Not all mentioned wildlife can be observed & photographed at all times of the year, thus some activities may be considered seasonal & not available.

BOOKING FORM