Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Farne Islands 2017

It’s become an annual ritual to visit the Farne Islands over recent years, so much so that I usually take a week or so off work around the busiest time for the seabirds there. Unfortunately, on all but one occasion it’s been overcast this being the worst trip weather wise.  Not only was there no sunshine at all but it was particularly dim which, if you want to take a photograph of a smallish, fast flying black and white bird against a grey sea or sky, it’s not only difficult to focus but as you can see from the pictures below, makes the image background washed out. 

Now I could with the magic of software, replace the background with blue sky (see below example), but that just wouldn’t feel right to pretend that was the way it was.

You can book your place on one of the many boat services that take you to the islands but I don’t, rather hoping on the day there will be spaces, especially during the week days. However, this time they were booked up and I had to wait a couple of hours for the next available boat with free space.


The trip itself was the usual journey around the islands and a chance to see and photograph the wildlife from the sea, though if you want to take photographs I recommend you get a seat at the side of the boat which I wasn’t and had a hard time trying to get a view past a person who thought it was a good idea to bring their iPad along as a camera (who brings their iPad along as a camera on a boat trip to the Farnes!! Why can’t they just use the camera on their phone?).




If you land on Inner Farne you have to pass by the Terns who nest right on the walkway so are not too happy with people walking by.  A good photo opportunity if you don’t mind braving being attacked by one or more of the angry Terns.  You have two ways to do this.  Follow someone else and let them be the bait and photograph the Terns attacking them or put a wide angle lens on your camera set it to a fast frame rate, manual focused to around a foot and just hold that above your head as you move through a swarm of them.



It is mainly the Puffins I come to see and photograph however, though perhaps next time I might just spend a bit more time looking around and just enjoying the brief time you have on the island.  I spent too much time trying in vain to get decent images of the Puffins flying in from the sea and conditions were just against me.  Not only the lack of contrast of the bird against the background made focusing difficult in the grey, dull conditions but I had to use exposure compensation to prevent a dark silhouette, which instead meant blowing out the skies.  A quick bit of editing below could fix that but not sure about the photographic ethics of that.

IMG_6592 Blue Sky

Trying to photograph the Puffins in the sky meant I neglected what was happening on the ground.  Anyone who has been to the Farnes will know what a hard time these poor Puffins have when brining in food for their young as waiting by their burrows are various gulls, ambushing the Puffins on arrival.  To avoid this, the Puffins try to fly literally, into their burrows.  This means getting that iconic image of a Puffin standing around with a beak full of eels, difficult, but if you’re quick you might get an action shot of the gull trying to rob an incoming Puffin.








The next couple of photographs are poor but do show a few things.  The first just how close the Puffins get when flying in and can fly right past you.  The second, just how close the an angry Tern can get to you.



Photographic Details

If you’re interested the technical details all but the last were taken with the Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, the last being a Canon 17-40mm at the widest view.  Because of the lighting conditions exposure compensation of +1-2 stops was given.  Auto ISO was also used.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Frank,
    The birds look so sad ..-)) great photos, very nicely photographed
    Greetings Frank