Time for the Farnes again...

Posted on 30 June 2018, 22:11

We’ve been having some glorious high pressure weather at the moment – which means, among other things, flat calm seas.

Just the job for a trip to the Farne Islands for photographic partner-in-crime Mark and I.

It was actually a bit of a faff to get booked onto the island I wanted to visit, Staple.

Two of the three boat trip companies that land on the Farnes weren’t doing that island today, and I will not do Inner Farne (too many stupid people who don’t understand how to deal with the feisty Arctic terns on the island – I once saw someone trying to knock them out of the sky with a walking stick!) but Billy Shiels was doing Staple, so Glad Tidings IV it was.

Before I even got on the boat, disaster – my lens hood fell off the end of the lens; bounced down the steep steps to the boat; ricocheted off the calf of the bloke in front, and disappeared into the North Sea.

Where it promptly sank into the depths…

Cack! £60 down before I even start!

It’s always something – but it could have been the lens (I was using my 100-400mm Mk II – the perfect lens for this stuff), which would have been the thick end of two grand in the drink.

Ah well – bright side to everything, and all that. As I’d be aiming to keep the Sun behind me when using the lens, the loss shouldn’t hurt the images.

I was really hopeful that the glass-like sea conditions would allow us to spot cetaceans – there have been umpteen sightings of Bottlenose dolphins lately, and a leaping dolphin is a bucket-list shot for me. As it happens we did see something – Harbour porpoises – but as you may know, “seeing porpoises“ is really just shorthand for “momentarily seeing a dorsal fin break the surface…

Never mind, the birds on Staple beckoned…

The predictability of species on Staple does however, imply a certain predictability in the photos people end up with – guilty – but a nice Puffin image is a nice image: and because the weather has been so warm and dry for a while now, the birds aren’t aal covered in clarts – to use the local vernacular – this year.

The pictures, then:


Puffin, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island – I never come away without at least one of these!


Puffin, Staple Island


Puffins, Staple Island


Guillemot, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Puffin with sandeels, Staple Island


Puffins, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Guillemot, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Guillemot inbound, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Kittiwake, Staple Island


Fulmar, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island


Razorbill, Staple Island


Puffin, Staple Island

Of course, there are Grey seals, too:


Grey seal, Inner Farne Island

And that was that for the Farnes – cracking weather, loads of birds, and some nice pictures. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday…

But as we were back on land by 1:30 pm, we scooted inland to see if we could catch up with the Spotted flycatchers in the Ingram valley.

Weellll… They were on site, but instead of nesting in the publicly accessible space they usually pick, they’ve chosen a private garden this year, putting them off limits.

Until one of them generously appeared at the edge of the garden just long enough for me to fire off a few frames:


Spotted flycatcher, Ingram

By now the combination of hot weather, sea air and my seasickness tablets were having their usual effect – I was more asleep than awake – so I was happy to call it a day then.

Most of these were converted as usual in Photo Ninja: but I’m using ACDSee Photo Editor 10 as my “pixel editor”. It’s really very good indeed for what I do after conversion – resizing, applying a signature; repairing (Clone/Heal work); its Light EQ function is worth the price of entry on its own; and it supports Adobe plugins, so I finish things off by selectively applying my “Deblur” algorithm preset (my favourite sharpener by a country mile) from Topaz Detail.

Better again, Photo Editor’s main functions are all available by keystroke combo, which speeds things up considerably.

And Photo Editor is a Raw converter too – and a bloody good one: The Fulmar, Spotfly and some of the Puffins were all converted and developed entirely in Photo Editor, and the results speak for themselves.

And it’s less than £23 today. Buy it! Even at its full price (£45 today), it’s an absolute bargain, and a brilliant end-to-end workflow tool.

(I’ll also mention that if you’re interested in a solution which includes effective Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities – if you’re looking to move away from the LightRoom/PhotoShop combo for example – ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is a no-brainer: all Photo Editor’s functions and more (it includes a content-aware Smart Fill which I really like) plus a great catalogue function. But unlike Lr, you don’t have to import anything).

On Staple I used my 7D Mk II and 100-400m Mk II lens, “naked” (no focal length extender). I’d forgotten just what a sharp little lens it is!

Back on land, I was back to my 500mm f/4 Mk II lens and Canon Mk II 1.4x converter, shooting handheld at 700mm.



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