Saltee’s Workshop

Having been virtually blown out of Crete by gale force winds for several days I was hoping for more settled weather conditions for this workshop on the Saltee’s. We were not disappointed; the weather throughout the workshop was hot and sunny –almost too bright, even early in the morning. Our visits to the island where 7am, when the light is less intense and again at 4:30pm until dark. The evening sessions were spent mainly at the gannet colony where the birds provided lots of opportunities for flight photography. I was still using the D800 which Nikon kindly provided and was  keen to see how its autofocus performed against the D3X. One aspect that really did impress me about the D800 was its ability to hold detail in the bird’s feathers despite the intensity of the light. The autofocus was an improvement over the D3X and I had a much less failure rate with flight shots.

Gannet Morus bassanus

There was very little wind for most of the trip. As a result the birds were coming in very fast making it challenging at times to lock focus.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, tripod.

 

Gannet Morus bassanus

 Fighting and squabbling over territory is a normal event among the gannets, which makes for interesting behavioral shots.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, tripod.

Due to the late spring many of the flowers (which are normally over by now) were at their best and there were good opportunities for shots among the Thrift and Campion. Puffin numbers were low the first day, but by the evening of the second day there was a steady increase in the number of birds about. Puffins are perhaps the most sought after bird on the islands but also can be the most unpredictable in terms of numbers. Several other photographers that were on the islands prior to us had not encountered any at all in the 3 days prior to our visit . It was a very successful trip and everyone had a very enjoyable time with some memorable images from the trip. I have not had time (due to book commitments) to go through my all of my images but have posted several here from the workshop.

Puffin Fratercula arctica

Despite the intense sunlight, the D800 managed to retain detail in the pale breast feathers of this bird.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, + 1.7 converter, tripod.

 

Puffin Fratercula arctica

Later on in the evening we found a small group of birds in the shade outside their burrows, which were among the campion flowers.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, + 1.7 converter, tripod.

 

Puffin Fratercula arctica

 I was able to take advantage of the small bay, which was in shadow behind this bird to create this portrait allowing it to blend with the background.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, + 1.7 converter, tripod.

 

Great Black-backed-gull Larus marinus

 There is a good population of gulls on the island. Most of them nest among the lichen-covered rocks which contrasted nicely in this case with the adult bird.
Nikon D800, Nikon 300mm 2.8mm lens, tripod.

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