For the past couple of years I’ve been wanting to take a trip out to Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire to photograph what is arguably the prettiest bird in the UK, the Atlantic Puffin. I finally had a chance this year, as my Mum bought me a 1-2-1 workshop on the island with Drew Buckley for my 25th birthday. I was going to finally try some real wildlife photography!
With it being a birthday gift, I was late to find out, which meant I had a panic as I didn’t have a lens suitable for wildlife photography after recently switching to Fuji. Luckily I found a 50-140mm f2.8 lens available at HireACamera, which I was amazed at considering it was the same weekend as the Royal International Air Tattoo. Since my last blog post we have bought our first house, so I had been spending every waking moment either at work or renovating ready for us to move in, so the break was most welcomed.
I met up with Drew at 9:15am, and he informed me we were on the 10:30am boat to the island. We took a walk around the headland and discussed the day ahead. We were to have around 4 hours on the island in total, and though the island is home to other seabirds, my main focus was Puffins. I told Drew what I wanted to achieve, with my main goal being a Puffin with a beak full of Sand Eels.
Now those of you who are regular visitors to my site, will know I rarely stray from landscapes, and I never do any wildlife photography whatsoever, so this was to be a welcome change of scenery, plus a good test of my skills, and the new camera. It was also a good test of how the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 stood up as a lens for wildlife photography.
After arriving on Skomer and having our welcome chat by the rangers, we headed off to a favourite spot of the island, known as The Wick. There was upwards of 20 photographers in place, with camera gear in the tens of thousands of pounds lined up along the path. I thought it would be a constant jostle for space, but everyone was very courteous, and besides, the Puffins don’t stay still for long, so you’re constantly on the move.
Drew gave me a few tips on how to better compose my images, and the best settings to use, and we were away. I couldn’t stop shooting! I had filled a memory card and flown through a battery in just over an hour, all adding towards the 1100 photos I took in 4 hours. Puffins galore! Puffins in flowers, Puffins in flight, puffins on the cliff tops. I was missing that Sand Eel shot though, and was beginning to worry that I wouldn’t get it. That was until I heard the yell of “fish” from Drew, as a Puffin waddled across the path and into the flowers with a beak full to the brim of Sand Eels! Hurrah! My trigger finger went into overdrive.
The day really did fly by, and before I knew it we had to pack up and walk back to the boat. I was disappointed it had come to and end, but I had a great time, with a great leader. Arriving back at our AirBnB I started going through the photos on the back of my camera, and was chuffed with some of the images I had taken. I dropped Drew a message thanking him again for his help, and eagerly awaited getting home to my laptop to process the files.
A week later I finally had 5 minutes spare to do some processing, and I’m now going to share a few of my favourites from the day. If you ever fancy trying this out for yourself, I would highly recommend a trip out with Drew. He certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to wildlife photography. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. To see more of my attempts at wildlife photography, you can take a look at this gallery.