Northumberland

24th-28th June 2010:

I’ve just had a short holiday, during which I relaxed for the first time in ages which allowed me to be really productive (photographically speaking). It gave me some time and patience to think about what I was doing a bit more and really allowed me the space to be a bit more creative, so I feel it was quite a success!

The product of this will be several series’ of images that will follow in subsequent entries. So this is just to give a background as to what to expect. I found myself getting really engaged with some of the places I visited, including Berwick upon Tweed, the Farne Islands, Lindisfarne and Edinburgh. Several themes/subjects evolved over the few days – They were all thought provoking and evocative places.

What I want to share first is my perception of the nature of the other visitors to the Farne Islands. Having been there once before, I found the atmosphere to be completely different and I felt what I encountered to be quite comical, yet also a bit sad, both for human nature and for the genre of photography.

The number of “wildlife” photographers present on the trip seemed to make up about 80% of the group – as soon as we got within a 600mm lens distance of the islands, an arsenal of cameras were raised and began their machine gun fire.

Once on the islands, it rapidly became clear that they were all there solely to capture their idea of a “perfect shot”of the various birds that nest on the Farne Islands. Not only was each one there for exactly the same reason, but they all looked pretty similar too – their clothing (camo’ gear, including hats and the “wildlife photographers gilet”), 10x the amount of equipment they needed, and they all seemed to be giving each other shifty looks as to who had the best camera and the biggest lens!

Their devotion to getting the perfect shot (or thousands of) was unrelenting – the sight of them was quite something to behold. But what struck me was their complete lack of any regard for context – all with their huge lenses trying to focus in on solitary birds. I felt this did the birds a huge injustice, as a perfect shot of each different species does not say all that much about the birds themselves, merely gives a descriptive/objective view of each birds physical characteristics. The puffins for instance, seemed to an amazing sense of humour and interaction with each other and the context in which all these different birds were nesting was in itself infinitely fascinating. Although I seemed to be the minority in thinking this…

One could argue it is a good thing for photography that so many people have taken up the hobby, but I think it is quite sad that so many of them can not look past the limits of their huge lenses, or be  a bit more creative – there are now about 30 people in this world who undoubtedly all now have thousands of nice photos of birds, all exactly the same as each others!

So I felt obliged to go out of my way to take a deeper look at the birds and their environment, from both a physical and artistic point of view – and I hope I have achieved a much more honourable representation of the entire situation!

But here’s a few photos of them in action:



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