Seal Pups and more on a Farne Islands Photographic Trip

Seal Pups and more on a Farne Islands Photographic Trip

Seal Pups and more on a Farne Islands Photographic Trip

This past Sunday, on a beautiful November day, I spent the best part of a day with 9 other photographers – most specialising in Wildlife Photography.

A day planned by Wildlife Photographer Alan Hewitt and Andrew Douglas of Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours, to photograph the large and ever increasing grey seal colony during the birthing season here on the Farne Islands, just off the Northumberland coast.

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After initial introductions, most were strangers to each other, though I had met young Will Nicholls at the County Show during the summer, we boarded Serenity II and headed straight for Longstone where we were to disembark and spend a couple of hours photographing the seals on and around the Island.

Technically I was immediately suffering, my old Sigma 135-400mm lens wasn’t behaving itself. The weak light of late autumn obviously wasn’t something it could cope with compared to how it performed back in June during my trip out for Puffin photography. I jettisoned that lens and stuck with my Nikkor 70-200mm VRII, unfortunately halving my potential focal range.

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The light all day was sublime (once I had a lens that could capture it properly) especially as we arrived on Longstone and on the return journey along the coast where it had that added golden touch.

Not classing myself as a “Wildlife Photographer” (even though I’m somehow listed in Adam Kumiszcza’s popular and well shared circle of Wildlife Photographers on Google+) after a couple of hundred shots of seals heads bobbing in and out of the water I began looking for other shots, shots more in my repertoire…

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This is where the award winning (£10 voucher in WEX Photographic’s weekly Twitter competition) image of Longstone Lighthouse came from. A tip off from Oli Wright and negotiation of some extremely slippy rocks got that shot. Prints of this shot are available through the online store – http://photos.andrewsgray.com

Slippy rocks almost cost me dear, though I am still a little tender… Heading back to the boat on Longstone my foot went from under me and a smashing sound (like glass) came as I and the camera hit the rocks. Heart stopping moment as I checked the camera and lens – thankfully no glass damage, just a smashed lens hood …and a badly bruised leg!

An excellent tour of the Islands followed on our way back to harbour, all with plenty of time to get the shots we wanted and presented before us. The guys (and girls) with the big quick lenses happily shot Turnstones, Shags, Oystercatchers, gulls and more Seals while I looked for slightly wider vistas.

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I loved every minute of the day and for a change I could discuss photography with people as passionate about it as me and more so.

Thanks to Alan and Andrew for arranging the trip and taking us out, and to my fellow photographers who I got to meet and spend an idyllic glorious November day with, Alan Hewitt and his Dad Norman, Oliver Wright, Emma Brown, Kat Chignall, Bill Doherty, Stevie Beats, Will Nicholls and Millne Thornton.

Other accounts of the day can be read here… Alan Hewitt, Will Nicholls, Stevie Beats.