An occasional blog about some of the places we have visited and some of the wildlife we have seen.
St Aldhelms Chapel under the Milky Way
Out and about
As I look back at some of the images I have taken over the last 12 months I am truly amazed at some of the things we have seen and the beautiful places we have visited!
Lundy Island was the culmination of a holiday last April but since then we have been to Northumberland, Pembrokeshire, Dartmoor, Exmoor, the North Yorkshire moors and many more places besides. But more than anything I have spent much more time out and about in Dorset, discovering new areas and seeing different wildlife. Hares have been a real highlight as have the owls we have seen. The rocky coast at Kimmeridge and night forays to St Aldhelms head and Portland Bill to shoot the Milky Way have all featured. It is often what is right on your doorstep that is the most incredible.
Our most recent trip was to skomer island to photograph the puffins. I have to say this was a really moving day and ranks as one of the best wildlife experiences I have had. It is hard to put into words what the sight of so many puffins is like, or how close you are to them. It was hot and sunny on our trip so not ideal conditions for photographs with heat haze being a definite problem but more than anything it was hard to take the whole spectacle in over a relatively short time. The island itself is breathtaking with dramatic cliffs all around. Visitor numbers are carefully managed by the Wildlife trust of South And West Wales and queuing in the early hours of the morning is the only way to get a ticket. Truly democratic and ample reward for a 5 am start! Boats are run by Pembrokeshire islands and I can highly recommend one of their trips as an add on to a day on the island itself. Seeing the birds from the water really gave you a different perspective. Skomer certainly got under my skin and I am sure we will return before too long. The coastal path in Pembrokeshire allows you to walk an area of real beauty where birds, butterflies and other wildlife are added to stunning scenery. I have posted some of my pictures on Instagram already so do take a look, they will find there way here in due course!
I have been shooting more landscapes and seascapes with some more abstract work added to the mix as well. Long exposure shots and journeys in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise have all featured.
My gear has evolved too over the past year, a 600mm f4 Nikon lens has been added, admittedly it is an old one but sharp doesn't do it justice, it weighs a ton but the results do justify lugging this beast around. A simple but well engineered L bracket from American company Promediagear has been a real boon, allowing me to switch from landscape to portrait without re setting the tripod and a new carbon fibre Benro Mach3 tripod is a beautiful tool. A new bag to accommodate that long lens from MindShift Gear has been another really impressive purchase.
Needless to say the gear really isn't the be all and end all but I do love well made, carefully designed kit and these items certainly fit the bill. The saying "the best camera is the one you have with you" always rings true and without good light there are never good images!
I have put a few links below so you can check out some of these items yourself if of interest.
I am posting regularly on Instagram @Beguilingnature so do pop over and see some of my work there.
Of course this is partly how I make my living so don't forget all the images on the site can be bought as prints and if you are after something a bit more bespoke such as greetings cards or fine art prints on beautiful papers just drop me a line.
Now for a few images that sum up the last 12 months.
Situated 18 miles off the North Devon coast, Lundy Island can truly be classed as remote. A sea crossing or helicopter flight is required to access the island, with its own vessel MS Oldenburg regularly making the voyage from Ilfracombe or Bideford. This does mean that your arrival on Lundy can feel like being part of a package tour but once you get away from the quay and the charms of the Marisco Tavern the crowds fall away.
We visited in April 2018 for the first time and the island proved truly captivating. There is an abundance of wildlife from the rugged Soar sheep to feral goats, sika deer and a huge proliferation of birds. In an average year over 140 species are recorded. One of the big environmental successes on the island in recent years has been the eradication of rats, a species which had virtually wiped out the population of puffins and Manx shearwaters. Fortunately both species are now making a good recovery. Visitors to the island can do their bit to keep Lundy rat free by checking boats and bags carefully before arriving on the island as they can harbour rats and also making sure all rubbish is taken home.
The puffins were in evidence when we visited, if a little distant! The hike up to Jenny's Cove on the Western side of the island takes you across windswept moorland with views down the plunging cliffs to the Atlantic ocean below. The going isn't particularly easy but this is where you get a true sense of the wild open space and the revitalising affect that can have. The Soar sheep were grazing with young lambs and we constantly had pipits and wheatears for company.
I had taken both my Nikon D810 and the D610 bodies along with a choice of lenses. The Sigma 300mm f2.8 with a 2x teleconverter was most used that day. During our time on the island and aboard the MS Oldenburg we saw Manx shearwaters, puffins, razorbills, chiff chaffs,, meadow pipits, black backed gulls, wheatears, black caps and gannets. I certainly didn't get good images of all the birds but it is about so much more than the photography. We are lucky to have wild, open spaces that are accessible and I feel utterly exhilarated just being in an environment like this.
Lundy is managed by the LANDMARK TRUST and all details about visiting, staying and the wildlife can be seen on their website.