Last summer was more or less dedicated to landscape photography but I did get a few chances to photograph birds. The two types of photography that I mostly do – birds and landscapes – are very different but equally rewarding. I find that landscape photography slows me down to the point that it sometimes becomes a meditative process. Bird photography on the other hand is much more about capture and never more so than when photographing birds in flight. When I got the opportunities to photograph birds this year I decided I would concentrate on capturing them in flight against simple and pleasing background. This type of photography is challenging and a lot of fun. Below are a few recent flight images. Please click on them to see larger versions.
I made one trip in June to the northeastern part of Iceland to photograph Gyrfalcons and with this year’s results feel that I now have enough material for a book on the species that I’ve been working on for years. This falcon was photographed from a high position on a cliff so that I could get the earth below in the background.
Few birds are as difficult to capture in flight as Puffins. This little guy was flapping fast past Ingólfshöfði and again I positioned myself where I could shoot slightly down onto the bird so that the sand below would be in the background.
Arctic Terns are fantastic subjects to practice flight photography as they often hover in the air. They nest in colonies and have invisible boundaries that one can’t cross without getting bombarded by the terns. Once the boundary line has been recognized it’s possible to stay just outside it for long periods without bothering the birds.
There was a thriving Arctic Tern colony close to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon this summer. When I was there in late June tern chicks were running around the field and Great Skuas had discovered this source of fairly easy meals. I witnessed a pair of skuas working together to capture tern chicks. One would fly into the colony and get attacked by hundreds of terns while the other swooped in and picked up a chick.
The Flói nature reserve is another great location in Iceland for bird photography. The Red-throated Diver is the characteristic bird of the reserve with a high number of pairs breeding in a fairly small area. In this case I waited for a diver to take off from a small pond and used a slow shutter speed while hand holding a 500mm lens and panning with the bird.
And then, back to the landscape.