Although I am partially deaf, I could not help overhearing what people were talking about on the Farne Islands. What took me aback was the number of people who were having problems with their camera gear, and it was invariably really expensive camera gear that they were having problems with. There were cameras not working and lenses not focusing. It must have been really disappointing for them to plan a trip and then not walk away with any shots. It seemed to be one particular brand that was having the problems, but my observation was not a scientific survey, so I won’t mention which make it was.
When I was there I put my camera away for a while just to take in the joy of being so close to such incredible wildlife. Wildlife photography for me goes hand in hand with conservation and education and I like a bit of time away from the lens to find out a bit about the birds that I photograph.
Olympus E-5, ISO 400, 190mm, f5.6, 1/4000
This handsome little gull is a kittywake. Although the number of most of the birds on the Farne Islands is on the increase, this one is declining rapidly and the colony barely seems to be breeding this year. Elsewhere there has been speculation that the drop in numbers of sand eels is affecting the populations of these birds, but there are plenty of sand eels around the Farnes, so there must be another explanation. It is now thought that the numbers of zooplankton on which the sand eels feed are declining, due to climate change. This means that the quality of the eels as a food has dropped, and this had adversely affected the kittywakes ability to breed.
This one was unimpressed with it’s food.
Olympus -5, ISO200, 277mm, f/7.1, 1/640
For the entire trip I kept the same lens on my DSLR. My trusty 70-300 mm zoom was perfect for the photography..
Some people seemed to me to have taken the wrong kit. I saw people with enormous lenses. They were using these to take photos of birds that were sitting on the ground a few feet from them. They must have broken their wallets and backs with these huge bits of kit. I wonder if they realised the opportunities they missed. There is no way you can pan a flying puffin with a lens like that is 10″ in diameter and needs a tripod to support it.
Olympus E-5, ISO 640, 215mm, f/5.1, 1/2500
Olympus E-5, ISO 800, 125mm, f/5.6, 1/4000
When a pair of territorial arctic tern are battling for aerial supremacy, then a smaller, lighter lens wins every time.
Olympus E-5, ISO 200, 89mm, f/9.0, 1/125
(I haven’t used selective colouring in this image. The only colour was in the legs and beak of that bird.)
And, when a bird is sitting six feet in front of you flapping its wings then perhaps you don’t need a huge lens.
Olympus E-5, ISO200, 215mm, f/5.6, 1/640
More birds to follow…