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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Puffin Photography Advice
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06/18/2019 05:53:28 AM · #1
Hi there
I am going to photograph Puffins next week on Skomer Island (just off Wales in the UK). I have not done any bird photography before so wanted to get some advice on what lenses to take.

I was thinking of taking the following 3 lenses.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

I have read that the puffins can often come quite close hence why I have included the 24-70.

I don't want to take too much stuff as it involves landing on the island on a small boat and then some walking to the other side of the island.

So if anyone has any advice they would like to share please shout. For example should I take a Flash and a tripod? Unfortunately I will be photographing them from 10am until 4pm so won't enjoy the best light of the day. Hopefully come away with a few decent puffin photos tho.

Thanks

Paul
06/18/2019 06:44:00 AM · #2
Enjoy the 100-400, not flash, not everything else. Puffins are small, so you have to be very close to shoot something like a portrait. In any case 24-70 and 100-400, my two cents
06/18/2019 07:16:01 AM · #3
Now we will know which is your free study :)

Have fun, Id love to see a puffin one day.
06/18/2019 07:18:23 AM · #4
Originally posted by Neat:

Now we will know which is your free study :)

Have fun, Id love to see a puffin one day.


That is if the boat runs and also if I manage to get a ticket for the boat. Apparently you have to queue from 5am and the ticket office doesn't open until 8am.

I do hope it all comes together tho and I get a good puffin photo with a mouthful of eels:)
06/18/2019 07:19:15 AM · #5
Originally posted by Alexkc:

Enjoy the 100-400, not flash, not everything else. Puffins are small, so you have to be very close to shoot something like a portrait. In any case 24-70 and 100-400, my two cents


Thanks Alexkc - I suspect it will not be easy to capture these little creatures but I am up for the challenge.
06/18/2019 10:59:30 PM · #6
Paul talk to ' . substr('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' SaraR - I think shes been there or at another refuge...

I used my 150-600mm on my shoot of puffins
06/19/2019 08:24:56 PM · #7
I've been on 3 or 4 puffin excursions, and I dont think I ever took off the 100-400 lens. A tripod or monopod is mandatory and, while 10-4pm might call for fill flash, the best you can hope for is a cloudy day.
06/20/2019 04:01:36 AM · #8
Paul, those are the lenses I would opt for, too. I have been on a couple of trips to the Farne Islands and have taken two bodies, one with the 24-105 on and the other the 100-400. I mostly used the 100-400, but did change it out for the 70-200 a few times for closer portrait shots. Take your tripod - whilst you will get plenty of good shots hand held (most of my flight shots are hand held) you will miss others - it is a long day and your wrists will get very sore. Plenty of storage and batteries - twice as much as you think you will take. Personally I wouldn't take a flash - not effective outdoors for distance, and could be classed as disturbing the birds. If there are terns, take a hat.
06/20/2019 04:34:35 AM · #9
Thank you everyone for the advice. I was hoping you would reply Sara as I have seen some fabulous puffin photos by you:)

2 bodies is a good idea as there would be nothing worse than a body dying after all the effort it is taking to get there.

Good point about the Flash and disturbing the birds. I have bought an extra 2 batteries so will have 6 batteries and cards totalling 512 GB.

Fingers crossed I actually get on the island as it requires getting a ticket for the boat which they don't sell in advance and also the boat may not sail if the weather is not suitable. Apparently it is necessary to queue from about 6am to be in with a chance. I will be exhausted by end of the day:)

06/20/2019 04:43:54 AM · #10
That's an exciting trip you've planned, Paul. Hope you'll get the tickets. As for the gear, I think the 100-400 will do, even if they are close you should get them with that one (as you're shooting full frame), but of course you can take that 24-70 just in case. When I did my puffin trips, I had my tripod with me, but used it only for 30 seconds, and than decided to shoot hand-held. So, if you want te reduce your load, skip that tripod. I hope you'll have a smashing day and can't wait to see the result of it.
06/20/2019 05:01:32 AM · #11
Thanks Kees. I recently picked up a really light weight tripod so it won't be a burden to sling it over my shoulder. However I suspect like you I will not use it as I am sure it would feel too restricting however better to have it just in case I do need it. I have no experience doing bird photography so it will be an interesting day and I hope lady luck will be shining on me.
06/20/2019 09:03:18 AM · #12
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Thanks Kees. I recently picked up a really light weight tripod so it won't be a burden to sling it over my shoulder. However I suspect like you I will not use it as I am sure it would feel too restricting however better to have it just in case I do need it. I have no experience doing bird photography so it will be an interesting day and I hope lady luck will be shining on me.


Buy or rent a gimball head!! It's life changing for bird photography!

06/20/2019 10:04:57 AM · #13
Originally posted by vawendy:



Buy or rent a gimball head!! It's life changing for bird photography!


Oh new toy?!!! Any recommendations?
06/20/2019 04:48:00 PM · #14
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by vawendy:



Buy or rent a gimball head!! It's life changing for bird photography!


Oh new toy?!!! Any recommendations?


This is what I ordered. I didn't know anything about Gimbals, so I went relatively inexpensive. It works wonderfully -- but it did have problems in the cold (very stiff).

but OMG!!! it's soooooo nice for bird photography!

Gimbal
06/20/2019 04:53:50 PM · #15
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by vawendy:



Buy or rent a gimball head!! It's life changing for bird photography!


Oh new toy?!!! Any recommendations?


This is what I ordered. I didn't know anything about Gimbals, so I went relatively inexpensive. It works wonderfully -- but it did have problems in the cold (very stiff).

but OMG!!! it's soooooo nice for bird photography!

Gimbal


Thanks - that gives me something to start the though (buying) process
06/20/2019 05:24:09 PM · #16
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by vawendy:



Buy or rent a gimball head!! It's life changing for bird photography!


Oh new toy?!!! Any recommendations?


This is what I ordered. I didn't know anything about Gimbals, so I went relatively inexpensive. It works wonderfully -- but it did have problems in the cold (very stiff).

but OMG!!! it's soooooo nice for bird photography!

Gimbal


Thanks - that gives me something to start the though (buying) process


Hey -- I hear that Tamrom 150-600mm lenses for the canon are the PERFECT lenses for shooting puffins! Do you want to buy a used one? I could bring it across the pond. I'm heading there on July 1st!
06/20/2019 06:01:23 PM · #17
Wendy - you can teach me how to use my Nikon equivalent :-)
06/21/2019 05:48:59 AM · #18
Originally posted by Pangurban:

Wendy - you can teach me how to use my Nikon equivalent :-)


Oh no! I didn't know I'd be hanging out with a Nikon user!!

Oh wait..

I'm not Canon anymore...

Whew... That was close! :P

Message edited by author 2019-06-21 05:49:15.
07/01/2019 02:50:36 AM · #19
Thanks for all the great advice. I managed to get to Skomer - took the 100-400 and 70-200 and 50mm as that was all I could fit in my camera bag. I used the 100-400 90% of the time and didnt even use the 50mm. Amazing experience but very difficult photographing puffins in flight. I will be back there again next year for sure.
07/01/2019 03:53:43 AM · #20
Here are a few of my photos - I haven't had time to go through them properly yet

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07/01/2019 06:16:17 AM · #21
And one more I quite liked as felt like planes coming in to land :)

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07/01/2019 08:35:44 AM · #22
Looks like you have had a very successful trip!
07/01/2019 08:40:44 AM · #23
wow - these are awesome photos Paul, well done!!!
07/01/2019 08:54:02 AM · #24
Originally posted by SaraR:

Looks like you have had a very successful trip!


Very pleased for a first attempt but I want to have another go :)
07/01/2019 08:55:43 AM · #25
Originally posted by primabarbara:

wow - these are awesome photos Paul, well done!!!


Thank you
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