Birds, Birds, Birds!


What excites me about nature photography is that it is limitless. There is so much wildlife and such variety of behaviour that even if I go out with an objective in mind, it doesn’t matter if that isn’t achieved, as there will be something new I have learned.

I remember Steve Smith FRPS, who talked about serving his apprenticeship for 3-4 years re-learning how to do photography in the digital age, and gradually I have understood what he meant – I look back just a few months and see my progress so far. I transitioned to using manual to give me full control on Laurie Campbell’s workshop, and now I can’t get AV to work right, I find I change the settings to suit the lighting and the subject/background almost without thought.

I sit for hours on cold hard boulders or kneel in the sand at the beach waiting for a bird to come close and risk being swamped by high tide. I freeze at my living-room patio door letting snowstorms blow in while waiting for a bird to pose in the right place. I risk vertigo at the tops of cliffs waiting for a fulmar chick to move. I exhaust myself walking miles in summer sun to get to a special spot. And then I upload the photos and spend hours processing the ones I like.

What keeps me enthused is that moment when you click the shutter and you know you’ve captured something good – and when you get back home and it’s still good. Even the shots that aren’t quite right give me ideas for the future, and that is another driving factor that keeps me out taking more pictures.

But why did I choose nature and more specifically birds? It wasn’t a conscious choice but a progression from armchair nature enthusiast; acquiring a house with a garden I could attract birds to, and then getting a camera to help me ID birds. It has been due to the excellence of the speakers organised by the club and the encouragement of its members that bird photography has become such a passion for me.

So it’s birds, birds, birds just now. But if it’s got feathers or fur, scales or carapaces then I’ll be interested. However, I do draw the line at 8 legs and multiple eyes!

My equipment: Canon 7D, Canon 100-400mm L IS with Advantage Camouflage Lenscoat, Giottos tripod, hiking boots and socks, waterproof over-trousers, Mountain Hardwear jacket, Berghaus hat and gloves, purple kneepads (they don’t do dark colours at Dobbies) and newest additions Icebreaker 260 leggings and Advantage Camouflage bag hide.

You can see some of my photos on

Stephanie Cowie

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