Posted by: photographytuition | October 24, 2012

Bird Photography in the Outer Hebrides.

I love the challenge of photographing birds.

Earlier this year I went to Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles), Scotland.

For all these photos I used a Nikon D7000 with a Nikon 300mm f4 lens. I have owned much longer lenses in the past, like a Nikon 600mm, but I find the quality/weight relationship of the 300mm f4 perfect. Anything bigger is just too hard to control for the type of photography I do i.e. I like to be mobile, to be able to quickly grab a shot.

I’ve taken the tripod collar off the lens to lighten it and consequently always use it handheld.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Fulmar. ISO 400, 1/8000 second at f5.6. Exposure -2 stops.

Some of the photos have been cropped a little but apart from that they are straight from the camera.

With the Fulmar (above) I wanted to get it against a dark, clean,  background so I positioned myself to capture the bird when it was in bright sunlight and against the deeply shadowed cliffs behind. It was very windy so I wanted a fast shutter speed, however 1/8000sec is a bit excessive!

To expose correctly for the bright bird and not for the dark background I used the exposure compensation button set to -2 stops.

Female Wheatear. ISO 400, 1/1500 sec, f8, exposure – 1/2 stop.

The Wheatear was a much simpler subject. The hardest part was getting close enough to it without scaring it away.

Oyster Catchers. ISO 400, 1/750 sec f8. Exposure +1/2 stop.

In just about every photo I take I reduce the exposure by 1/2 stop or so. In this case I increased it as I wanted the bright beach to remain bright. At the ‘correct’ setting the beach would have been a bit dull looking.

Oyster Catchers. ISO 200, 1/1500 sec f5.6. Exposure -1 stop.

At the ‘correct’ exposure the rock would have been overexposed and ‘washed out’.

Gannet. ISO 200, 1/1500 sec f8. Exposure -1 /1/2 stops.

Gannets are one of my favourite birds and a real challenge to photograph. Their plumage is so bright it’s quite tricky to get the exposure right – hence the need for an adjustment of -1 1/2 stops.

Artic Tern – I think!. ISO 400, 1/14000 sec f4.8. Exposure -1/2 stop.

These birds move fast – a high shutter speed is essential. When they’re in a bad mood and you’re too near their nest they’ll attack you. I can tell you from bitter experience that their claws are seriously sharp!

If you would like to know more about photographing birds please contact me:, tel: 01497 847183 or see my website

For general commercial photography see


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: