A bucket list opportunity to visit Skomer Island and see the Puffins. Skomer is about 6 hours from where I live, it is an island and only has about 150 people land on it every day – once you are there, you are there until your return boat…. for me that is a real challenge, my son has a medical condition which means he needs support with little notice so to leave him at home, drive for 6 hours, then to catch the boat to the Island and be there for 6 hours before I can return… was risky.
But we did it!
The boat Skomer had not run all week, we traveled late / early hours and arrived at the car park about 5am, we knew the ticket office opened at 8.30 if the ferries were running – so we brewed up for a cup of tea and were surprised to see the parking attendant arrive at 6am and tell us that he thought the boats would run today, by 6.30am there was already a queue for tickets (we had gone for an early morning walk – thinking you did not need to queue that early) and were the 75 and 76 person in the queue … we then discovered some people were buying groups of tickets, the lady in front of us brought 7!! We were worried we would not get on…. so we queued – not knowing for sure if there were boats.
At 7.30am, boats were confirmed – 300 people would be allowed on Skomer today as it had not been open all week – we got booked on the 10am boat returning at 3.30pm … we had fantastic sunshine and the island was just amazing.
My husband and I took over 1000 photos, I took 2 cameras, a zoom and a wide lens, a flash and with both took some, I was delighted with over 200 of them – I got Puffins, Puffins, Puffins and lots of scenery too … it was amazing!
These are my favorite photos from the trip, I was amazed how close you could get, how small puffins were – the light was harsh, it was a glorious sunny day, which meant there were shadows to deal with but I just loved it….
This one above was captured by my hubby with my 5D mark III, and a wide angle lens, I like the sense of scene and movement he captured … and it is only fair to share one of his images as he was very patient all day!
I wanted more than just a Puffin, I wanted to capture a Puffin doing something – once they had fish they were incredibly fast, coming into land and darting into their burrows to feed their young… I could not believe how many fish they had in their beaks!
I wanted interaction with other Puffins, they love living in groups – they are social birds and they nest all together – Skomer is popular as there are no predators for them, so I wanted to capture some of the interactions.
A lot of the time there beaks were closed, creating the distinctive puffin shape, but I wanted to include the beak shape, this one has just popped out of a burrow. These wild birds are incredibly busy…
The detail on the birds was hard to balance in the sunlight, and I wanted to ensure I had a variety of backgrounds in my shots, and show how they can just blend into the environment.
Movement – the puffins seem to grow just before they take off – they puff their feathers up, and then head off over the water to catch fish for their young.
I wanted to create something different, so I took along my flash, I love how the background disappears in this image to create a very different style shot of these puffins passing each other.
As the puffins came into land they raced for their burrows … this one looked this he was giving chase – it made me smile!
Another flash lit photo, I really think the catch light add’s something and it helps with the harsh sunlight as the day progressed … shooting in June (longest day) about 11am and 2pm at the brightest times of the day is not the best time for photos but you have to work with the time available.
Another shot using the flash, this time I included more of the background but using less flash power, looking back at the images – I can’t believe I got to do this … I have often seen other people’s Puffins shots and now I have my own!
This one one of the hardest shots I took… the puffins come into land incredibly quickly and they are soo small…. you have to find it in the sky, focus on it, track it as it moves and then get the shot … This was shot at ISO400, 1/640th sec, F6.3, at 300 mm zoom on my canon 7D mark II – with faster shutter speeds I lost the blur on the wings, and I wanted movement…
What now … I am going to print them … and a few more. I want to enjoy these photos and some of the others I took…. so if you would like to see them please ask… they are also available to view in an online Puffin Gallery.