Monday, 6 August 2012

Fun on the Farnes

This year I visited the Farne Islands twice, first mid-June then mid-July, the second trip was unplanned but still very much rewarding and it was interesting to see the difference between the islands within a month. The main differences were July had less Guillemots and Razorbills but in return Puffins seemed more active, Arctic Terns were bringing in more food for their grown young rather than defending their balls of fluff and the number of people visiting had dwindled making it much more relaxing atmosphere to photograph in.

For those that have never visited it can be a real attack on the senses, for photography it is truly excellent but at first you just feel like taking images of everything you see, you wander around the relatively small islands aimlessly pointing the camera at anything that moves not really sure if what you are getting is decent or not. Factor in the weather conditions (we had rain then dry then rain again so I was constantly removing and then putting my rain cover on) and the other visitors tripping over each other to see the wildlife and you could easily come away not knowing what you have shot and feeling dissapointed that you haven't achieved what you wanted. 

The first thing to remember is that the wildlife must come first on the island, it can extremely crowded and as much as you want to get the shot you have to consider the welfare of the subject. Secondly it is vital to plan ahead what subjects you want to focus on and any particular images you want, this is tricky but is there any point in getting standard images of all of the islands bird's or a great and diverse collection of images of 1 or 2 subjects? Finally plan ahead in terms of yourself, try and visit for a few days which allows for different weather conditions, more time to explore different subjects etc, bring a range of lenses, try doing something different with the subjects and plan for bad weather, bring waterproof clothes and waterproof your camera equiptment. Booking the boats ahead did not seem essential, they usually can fit you on and don't just limit yourself to the actual islands, I had some great fun in around the harbour and further afield. Hope this helps, here are the images:

The Arctic Tern was a great subject to spend some time with, you are mobbed by them as soon as you walk onto the islands and the noise from them is amazing!

Shags are probably my favourite bird on the Farne Islands, it was great for variety as they allowed a close approach for wide angle photography and the adults and juveniles look so different that you could get some variety in the images.

Of course Puffins were everywhere, I really wanted a Puffin in flight with sandeels and also the classic portrait with sandeel shot, in the last image the rain really added to the sense of atmosphere.

Eiders around the harbour were also one of my favourite subjects, one again you could create nice portraits and do some wide angle stuff too as they were partial to some feeding. Unfortunately the male birds were already moulting into eclipse winter plumage so they weren't as photogenic but the females have a subtle beauty.

Here are a few other subjects, the Kittiwake colony around the corner from the harbour is well worth a visit too and we never saw another photographer bothering to do this! 

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