Subject matters: Puffins

Puffins are funny little birds and I had always wanted to go and photograph them. I finally did so last year and have just got round to processing the RAW files.

They took a lot of travelling to get to as these particular puffins live on a remote island called Staffa that is only accessible by boat.

staff-map

I lugged my Nikon D300 and 80-200mm F2.8 ED lens (weighing in over 2kg combined) all the way there just to get these shots. Given the effort required to get there I wasn’t going to skimp. It turned out to be a wet and miserable day, so these images took a bit of processing to brighten them up (along with my lens needing a service after getting very wet!) but of the several dozen images I had time to shoot I got a good range different compositions.

staffapuffins_1

It’s easy to take the same image 50 times in these situations, heck I was happy just to get one good image! but I wandered around the cliff tops to get some different angles to try and show the character of these funny little birds.

staffapuffins_2

What struck me first is that they are tiny! Looking at the image Exif data, these were generally shot at the long end of the lens from only 3 or 4 metres away, with the crop factor of the D300 that meant a lot of magnification was taking place between subject and sensor. I shot the whole set almost wide open at f4 which gives a nice shallow depth of field at close range ensuring the subject jumps out from the background. This gave shutter speeds around 1/160th second which is about right for freezing your subject but still expressing some movement in the image (something I learned from motorsport photography).

staffapuffins_3

It was easy to get within a couple of meters of them as they very trusting birds. Apparently the presence of Humans scares away the puffin’s predators so they all came out for a look when we arrived. Puffins often have a look of sadness in their eyes in still photographs, but seeing them in person they are very cheerful, playful little things.

staffapusffins_4

I don’t often to bright subjects and colourful subjects (If fact life of any kind is usually absent!) but I like this set.

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