Bempton Cliffs Reserve, on the stunning East Yorkshire coast, is home to one of the UK's top wildlife spectacles.
Approximately half a million seabirds gather here between March and October each year to raise their families on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. This is life on the edge: the sights, sounds and smells of soaring and swooping seabirds combined with panoramic sea views. Simply unforgettable.
Our visit is timed to coincide with the arrival of the puffins in their numbers. And we can expect to see the iconic birds flying out to sea and returning with a bill full of fish provisions.
The gannets will also be in full flight, gathering nesting materials from the cliff sides, and soaring just metres from our heads. These yellow-headed beauties are very photogenic and, as they greet their mates, we’ll often see the welcome home ‘beak slap’.
We’ll also see razorbills, guillemot and kittiwakes as they jostle for space on the cliff sides. Head inland and the birdlife changes. Tree sparrows, whitethroats, corn buntings, skylarks, linnets, reed buntings, rock and meadow pipits are all known to frequent the area.
In this 3-hour workshop, we get hands on learning to capture avian portraits and birds in flight. The key to this is not only understanding how our camera equipment works, but also the behaviour of the birds. By understanding this, we increase our chances of capturing that perfect in flight shot and environmental portrait.
We start the session with a quick meet & greet, and we then make our way to the cliff tops. Once there, we’ll scout the location to find our subjects and look at capturing some wonderful bird portraits.
From our meeting point, we’ll move across the cliffs to locate the gannets riding the thermals. These guys fly just metres above our heads and are often at eye level. Here we’ll learn how to track, compose and anticipate the bird to capture those in-flight shots clearly and sharply. Where possible, our trainer will be shooting tethered to a tablet screen, making it easier to demonstrate the types of images we will be aiming for.
We finish the session with a challenge. The 15-minute photo challenge is a favourite of our trainer. It’s a chance to take the knowledge gained during our time together and put it into practice. 1-2-1 critique will be available after the workshop to further help you on your journey.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the cliff top path, this workshop is not suitable for those with limited mobility.
It's important to note that this is a 'wild' location and the birds are completely free to do as they please; they are not managed in any way. With around half a million sea birds it's unlikely we'll have a 'no show'. However, wildlife has no respect for our timetable!
You will need:
To have a good basic knowledge of your camera: i.e. how to change between shooting modes, adjust ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
A camera with interchangeable lenses. Focal lengths covering 70-300mm. However, if you do have access to a 150-600mm or 200-500mm or similar please feel free to bring these along
This is a beginner/intermediate level course.
You should be familiar with your camera controls i.e. how to change between shooting modes, adjust ISO, shutter speed and aperture