Puffins and Arctic birds
A bird photography workshop with Joshua Holko and Daníel Bergmann
May 27 – June 7, 2017
Puffins at their breeding colony
Iceland is simply one of the best places on earth to see and photograph the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). This photography workshop will be dedicated to the photography of Puffins along with other Icelandic birds, both seabirds and birds of the moor and mountains that have in some cases traveled long distances to their breeding grounds. The workshop will also take place during the beginning of summer when the days are long (about 20 hours of daylight) and when the birds are very active.
We will concentrate our time on two Puffin colonies; at Látrabjarg, which is Europe’s westernmost point and one of the three largest bird cliffs in Iceland and on Grímsey island in the bay of Skjálfandi in the north, the only land mass in Iceland that is within the Arctic circle. While the Puffin colony of Látrabjarg is not one of the larger ones in the country it is unique due to how tame and approachable the Puffins are. The numbers of Puffins at Grímsey are increasing dramatically, which creates opportunities for photographing not only individual birds but also large groups in their environment.
Bird species encounterd
While our concentration will be on Puffins we’ll also have opportunities to photograph a fair number of the 75 breeding bird species in Iceland. At the bird cliffs of Látrabjarg and Grímsey we’ll encounter Northern Fulmar, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre and Razorbill. On Flatey island, where we’ll spend one night, we’ll have fantastic opportunities to photograph Black Guillemot, Snow Bunting, Arctic Tern, Common Eider, Redshank, Common Snipe, White Wagtail and Red-necked Phalarope. At other locations we’ll see and possibly photograph Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Golden Plover, Rock Ptarmigan, Red-necked Loon, Harlequin Duck, Horned Grebe, Northern Wheatear and more.
Arctic Tern at Flatey island
This photography workshop is about improving your photography as well as experiencing unique and exciting locations with fantastic birdlife. The leaders will be out photographing with you every day, helping you to realize the images you’re after and encourage you to capture birds in new ways. We are as passionate about photography as you are and participating in an intense photographic journey, with a group of like minded individuals, is a good way to grow as a photographer. As leaders and instructors we’re always at hand to assist with specific techniques and we welcome the opportunity to discuss the philosophical aspect of our art.
Accommodation and food
We will be staying in single en suite rooms wherever possible. At Grímsey island we are staying at a guesthouse with a limited availability of rooms so while there for three nights we’ll have to share. If you are traveling with a partner or a friend and want to share all accommodation then the cost will be $650 less per person. Your comfort is taken seriously so all the hotels will offer a good standard of comfort and fine food. Internet access will be available at most locations. All meals are included. If you have a special dietary requirement you will be accommodated – just be sure and let me know when you make your booking. Lunches will be taken on the road, either at service centers or cafés or as packed lunches in the field.
Black Guillemot at Flatey
The days are long in Iceland during this time of year with extended periods of soft and golden light. Birds are also most active during the late and early hours of the day so we’ll need to be prepared to be out photographing after dinner and before breakfast. The key to our success will be flexibility though and we’ll make the most of the conditions that we’ll be given and rest when we’ll have the opportunity.
While Puffins can be photographed with short telephotos due to how tame they are the same can not be said about most other birds species. Therefore I would recommend a 400mm lens as the absolute minimum longest focal length and preferably a bit longer (such as 500mm with extenders).
Puffin on the edge of the Látrabjarg cliff
We will leave from Reykjavik City on the morning of May 27th. If you arrive that morning to Iceland we can pick you up from the airport but we strongly advise that you arrive on the 26th and overnight in Reykjavik. The night of the 27th will be spend at the Snaefellsnes and we’ll travel around the peninsula to look for exciting bird photography opportunities. On the morning of May 28th we’ll take the ferry from Stykkishólmur to Flatey Island, where we’ll spend one night. Flatey is a bird photographer’s paradise and everything is within walking distance from our hotel.
The following day we’ll continue north with the ferry from Flatey and will find our way to Breidavik, where we’ll stay for 3 nights. From there we’ll make a number of trips out to the nearby Látrabjarg cliff and will also look for birds closer to the hotel. After our stay at Breidavik, on June 1st, we’ll drive east along the north coast to the town of Dalvík, where we’ll overnight. The following morning we’ll get on another ferry, now bound fo Grímsey island. We’ll also be based there for 3 nights and will photograph Puffins and other birds day and night. On June 5th we’ll sail from Grímsey and will overnight in Skagafjordur. Our last day, June 6th, will be one of travel back to the town of Keflavik with photography stops along the way. Any flight can then be taken out of Iceland on June 7th, even very ones as we’ll overnight near the airport.
I am a native Icelander, a professional nature photographer since 1999 and have been leading photography tours and workshops in Iceland since 2003. Birds are my passion and I’ve been on the board of directors at Fuglavernd (BirdLife Iceland) for over a decade. You can read more about me here.
Joshua Holko is Australia’s leading nature photographer. He concentrates on the Arctic and Antarctic regions and is widely awarded. He has been leading photography workshops in Iceland and other Arctic regions for many years. You can learn more about Josh on his website.
Date: May 27–June 7, 2017
Duration: 11 days/11 nights
Cost: $7,850 USD – (a $650 discount is available per person for shared accommodation)
Includes: Transportation in a modified 4×4 vehicle, ferry fees, accommodation, all food and drink (except alcohol), guidance and tuition
Excludes: International flights, insurance, alcoholic beverages
Group size: 12
Leaders: Daniel Bergmann and Joshua Holko
Please contact me for further information and booking.