At the weekend I visited the Farne Islands just off of the Northumberland coast, as it was a beautiful day and we decided to go on a boat trip. It is a good time of the year to visit the islands as many of the birds are nesting and it gives a good opportunity to photograph them with having to spend hours waiting for them to fly past. There were hundreds of birds on the islands, it was pretty special (watch out for the Turns, they are vicious and dive bomb your head at every opprtunity).
The main problem for me was that I had been photographing landscapes the day before, so only had my 12mm and 17mm olympus lenses, a 24mm and 35mm equivalent. It was obvious from all the massive telephotos swinging around that I was either ill equipped or surrounded by 40 people that were trying to compensate for something. Either way there was a lot of very big and expensive glass around. Now if I had brought a 600mm lens with me I am sure that I would have used it and produced some good work, but the fact that I didn't got me thinking of ways I could make the most of what I had. It struck me that 90% of the photographers there would come away with very similar shots, a puffin sitting on a rock, beautifully separated from the background with bokeh as creamy as the very best french brie. The more skilled my get a wonderful panning close up of a Guillemot mid flight. All very nice, but very much the same. Sometimes you need to mix it up a bit.
Obviously I didn't have much of a choice and I probably would not recommend a 24mm as a go to lens for bird photography, but in the right circumstances you can create some really interesting images. The trick is to try and get as close as possible to create a sense of energy, like the viewer is there with the birds. It takes a bit of patience as you have to give the birds time to adjust to your presence being so close.
I was really happy with the results, and may try to do a bit more of this type of thing.
Thanks for reading.