We ran our Autumn Birds of Prey workshop a little later than usual to try & get more autumnal colours. Ian enjoyed our Spring Birds of Prey workshop so much that he decided to join us again. The workshop started with our usual 2 hours Saturday taster session. The weather forecast didn’t look great, so we brought the workshop forward to avoid the worst of the rain.
We kept the sessions short so that the birds wouldn’t get too wet. Some, like the peregrine falcon & kestrel, didn’t seem to be bothered by the rain as you can see below. I love how Ian has captured the water on the birds’ heads. Continue reading →
Sean has sent in a selection of images that he captured whilst co-leading the NaturesLens Autumn Birds of Prey Photography Workshop during October 2017 – we are splitting them amongst a trio of blog posts – this is the first, focussed on what you’d probably describe as classic portrait images.
We always have a good selection of birds to work with; Steve our falconer ensures that the birds are in perfect condition for us & communicates with us the week before to ensure that the timetable for the sessions take in the best opportunities that we can offer.
One of the barn owls makes a guaranteed appearance on our workshops – we are lucky in that the land which we use has a large number of farm buildings on it that we can make use of – here Sean has framed the barn owl in a ramshackle algae-covered barn door.
Second appearance for the barn owl, this time framed in the broken window of one of the farm yard buildings!
A bird that has – to date – only made a few appearances on our Birds of Prey Photography Workshops, the kestrel, here posed amongst the heather.
Previously nervous, the kestrel was quite happy posing & here is seen posed on one of the fence posts at the back of the farm yard.
Always a rock-star as far as we are concerned, the long-eared owl that we have available is so chilled out & poses so beautifully, always alert & focussed on the photographers.
Until recently, the peregrine falcon had not been used on our Birds of Prey Workshops, however, gradually over the last three, this bird has become a regular feature, we almost always set up the shots for this bird amongst a small quarry area, which leads to some interesting textural contrasts.
Apparently now over it’s workshop-shyness, the kestrel looks to be ready to become a regular workshop subject.
An old favourite, the buzzard, five years ago, this female was first introduced to workshop attendees at one of our events, now, she doesn’t bat an eyelid – as long as she has food from our falconer, in exchange for posing at the top of one of his hills for the group.
2018 Birds of Prey Photography Workshops
Once again in 2018, we are running a pair of Birds of Prey Photography Workshops in mid-Wales; as mentioned above, Sean is taking over the reins from us, we cannot wait to see the results that our guests obtain with his guidance!
April 2017 saw David & I running the first of our Welsh Bird of Prey Workshops of 2017. This photography workshop is a particular favourite of mine because it is so relaxed & intimate due to the group size & everyone comes away with some fabulous images & new friendships made.
We brought some new props along to the workshop to mix things up a bit. These included a milk churn, a couple of storm lanterns & a variety of different wheels – perfect for getting a little creative as well as honing one’s composition skills.
Normally, this does not happen, but we have had a place become re-available for our puffin photography holiday in June during which we spend three nights living on Skomer Island.
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
This trip is to be held over the dates of June 17 @ 8:00 am – June 20 @ 10:00 am, & is to be lead by myself, David Miles, & Sean Weekly; the trip encompasses seas filled with rafts of puffins, razorbills & guillemots coupled with looming offshore rocks contrasting with exposed headlands or sheltered inlets, which are home to the seal population & many other mammals.
Skomer Island is located approximately 3 miles from Martin’s Haven on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Skomer Island itself is 750-acres of beautiful habitat for a variety of amazing wildlife experiences. The island has the largest colony of breeding seabirds in Southern Britain Beginning in early spring, thousands of colourful puffins crowd the island, popping their heads out from the entry to their burrows, they skim the visitors to the island as they pass overhead carrying sand eels or burrow materials.
Additionally, they are often to be seen socialising in huge groups on the sea. The puffins, the “clowns of the sea”, are endearing & utterly photogenic. You can expect them to come within feet of you & even to walk between your feet – they also have an uncanny attachment to walking right up to a camera lens, making for some amazing close-up shots. It should also be noted that the landscape of Skomer lends itself to wider-angle shots, incorporating the scenic backdrop & birds in the foreground, to show the subject in it’s environment.
Skomer is not only about the puffins, although they are without a doubt the stars of the show. The more sedate razorbills & guillemots watch visitors from the rugged cliffs that make up the island’s terrain. If we are lucky, we might observe Gannets diving into the sea. It is also worth noting that inland of the island there are colonies of short-eared owls, these beautiful birds of prey fly & hunt during the day on the island.
The puffin photography holiday cost is £499 for the 3 night stay, this includes hostel-like accommodation in the converted farm house, breakfast & dinner, photography tuition from myself & Sean on an as-needed basis.
As mentioned, it is unusual for us to have a place become available at this late stage – if you would like to book it, please drop us an email using our contact page.
Val was amongst the small group that visited Skomer Island with Daniel in mid-July, although they had challenging weather on a couple of the days, one evening yielded super golden light, & the group certainly made the most of the opportunity to capture subtly lit images of the Atlantic Puffins, after all, that is what they went for.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
They continued to renovate their burrows, squabble & make their strange noises but the place felt a lot more serene!
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.
We are excited to announce a new offering to the NaturesLens portfolio, a short landscape photography workshop to run immediately after our June Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday. This is a new workshop in West Wales, to photograph the Beachscapes of Pembrokeshire & it is to be lead by Sean Weekly.
If one of the nights is clear, Sean has kindly offered to run a night-scapes workshop for a few hours as well. Obviously this is weather dependent but hopefully it is co-operative.
The extension has places for 6 participants only. The extension includes two nights accommodation on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis. Photography guidance will take place around the four main photography sessions, of which there will be two evening sessions, & two early morning sessions. Sean will be on hand throughout the day, but the bulk of the photography will be undertaken at the beginning & end of the days, when the light is best.
The dates for the ‘Beachscapes of Pembrokeshire’ are 20th – 22nd June & the cost is £399 for the two days.
If you would like to join this extension, please sign up by using the booking for at the base of this page.
As announced elsewhere, Sean Weekly is joining the team at NaturesLens & his first leading duties with us are in October 2016, with the rutting red deer workshops, but next summer, he will be co-leading the regular Skomer puffin photography trips that we run to Skomer Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales.
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 Sean’s Skomer puffin photography portfolio. He visited twice in the summer of 2016 & has sent us a good selection of images for us to publish here in this blog post.
WOULD YOU LIKE VISIT PEMBROKESHIRE FOR SOME SKOMER PUFFIN PHOTOGRAPHY?
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.