Atlantic Puffins

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by gnagel, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. gnagel

    gnagel No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    During my road trip to Newfoundland, I planned two photo shoots for birds...the northern gannets of Cape St Mary's and the puffins of Elliston. I didn't have much luck with the gannets due to thick fog over my three day stay. And, for the majority of my stay, it looked like the puffins were going to be a no go as well.

    Just a little background on Elliston...a colony of puffins nests on the rock just off the coast. There's a short trail (about 1/3 of a mile) from the road to the edge of the cliff. From there, you can see the puffin nesting site. It's relatively close, but too far in my opinion to capture quality images of these rather small birds. They stand at just 8 inches tall.

    Here's an iPhone photo of the area:
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    The hope is that a puffin (or several) will fly over to our side. Between us is a steep drop...and yes, people have died here.

    So, I arrived one morning to photograph the puffins. I had visions of puffins everywhere...and all on my side of the water. But, after a couple of hours of waiting, there wasn't any indication that the puffins would land near me...or I should say, us. I gathered that part of the problem was that there were 30 or more people standing near me and that the crowd might be keeping the puffins away.

    I returned the next morning at 5:45 AM...and was pleased that I was the only person there. But, by 9:30 AM the crowds were building and the light was getting very harsh...and not a single puffin made a move to my side of the water!

    That night, I decided to go back for a third try. I arrived at 5:00 PM and found about 12 people there...no puffins. By 6:30 PM or so, everyone had gone except for one man. He was visiting from Switzerland...and was just finishing up some landscape photographs. I told him that people told me that on occasion puffins would fly over to our side...so he waited with me. We waited for about an hour when he told me that he reluctantly would have to leave because he was freezing...and that his jacket was back at his campsite (more than a mile away). I told him he could use my jacket...and he was very appreciative.

    About 30 minutes later a single puffin fluttered over to our side and landed briefly on a rock. I captured a quick shot with my 300 2.8 VR...and it flew off. I was so happy to get a shot! He looked at the image and joked about how jealous he was that I got that shot...he only had a wide angle lens. So, I removed the 300 2.8 from my D850 and handed it to him. I told him he could use it for the rest of the shoot...he was using a D4. I then attached the 500 f4 to my camera--which was sitting in my bag. Yes, I carry a lot of weight!

    A few minutes later, another puffin landed. Then another...and finally more than a dozen. We had a great time capturing portraits of these birds. At one point, he mentioned that he should have brought a teleconverter with him...so I reached into my bag and handed him a 1.4x. He couldn't believe his good fortune...a jacket, a 300 2.8 VR and a TC...all saved his photo shoot!

    Here are some of my images:

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    Thanks for looking...and reading.

    Glenn


     
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  2. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    did you have them in a studio and give them candy ? Geez, I can't get humans to model like that. your the puffin whisperer. I read your story, your a good man. you puffing whisperer you...
     
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  3. gnagel

    gnagel No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks! It was an amazing photo shoot. I would capture an image...and then wait for the puffin to turn his head slightly to catch the light a little better...and it would do it! It was like hitting the lottery.

    Glenn
     
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  4. BrentC

    BrentC Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hey, stick to architecture and landscape you make us wildlife photographers look bad. And if I see another puffin photo posted by someone I'm going to be pissed! Unless it's from me. My absolute favorite bird and have yet to see one in person. I'm jealous.


    All kidding aside absolutely fantastic shots. Like JC said, its like you brought them into the studio. I hope when I get the chance they are half as good as these.
     
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  5. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Great shots ... I love Puffins ... and kudo's for you on outsmarting the Tourists !!

    Ahhh, I got Puffin shots ... but I will be nice and not show you ... but I will give you a hint to get a great shot = Machias Seal Island.
     
  6. gnagel

    gnagel No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks Brent...I am thrilled that I got the opportunity to see these in person. I once photographed a few from a boat, but there's no way that I could get the same quality when shooting from a moving boat.
    Thanks...I love them, too. I'll have to check out Machias Seal Island!

    Glenn
     
  7. Jeff G

    Jeff G -Amateur Shutterbug- Supporting Member

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    Glenn, these are fantastic!
     
  8. BrentC

    BrentC Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm planning a east coast trip next year. I'll add that to the plans. Thanks
     
  9. gnagel

    gnagel No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks Jeff

    Glenn
     
  10. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Wowza! Love the set. #3 is my favorite
     
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  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Some fantastic shots! Earned the Winner badge from me.
     
  12. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Excellent set of images, good stuff......
     

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