Harry Martin Photography


Thoughts, Photographs, Ramblings of a madman.

Skye Diaries - How I Got The Shot

Backdated to 13th May 2015

This image (click for larger versions) was entered into WEX Photographic's weekly photography competition on Twitter called #WexMondays and they invited me to share a 'behind the shot' blog explaining how I captured my entry.

I've recently moved up to the Isle of Skye to start a new job as a wildlife & landscape photography guide working with Marcus McAdam Photography. My main task over the past few months has been finding and photographing the amazing wildlife Skye has to offer. Part of that of course has involved many hours spent out in the field, on the coast tracking down otters and hiking ridge lines in search of eagles.

This photograph was captured down on the coast near my house in the North of Skye. I was waiting patiently in the pre-dawn hours for an otter to appear but was instead treated to a close encounter with this wheatear. By simply sitting still and letting yourself become part of the landscape the wildlife will start to treat you as such. The advantage of this is that it minimises stress and disturbance to your subject (one of my top priorities) because it is up to the animal how close it wants to come and for how long.

With my comfy seat (as comfy as you can get on rocks anyway!) I watched this bird and its mate flitting around the rocks feeding and gathering nesting material for over an hour. They didn't stick around long enough for the dawn light to strike the rocks but the low contrast, diffused light helps to bring out the detail in its intricate plumage. The settings I used for this image can be found below in the caption.

Difficulty rating = 5/10

Although I took this photograph using a 500mm lens plus a 1.4x teleconverter don't assume you need a huge telephoto lens to capture images just like this. I stress to all my customers that it's not all about the gear; far more important is fieldcraft, creativity and for a shot like this, patience! I kept low to the ground to avoid any distractions in the background, isolating the subject and making it stand out more.

I thoroughly recommend to everyone, no matter where you are, to find somewhere quiet and sit patiently for a couple of hours - you'll be amazed at how quickly birds and other animals will become accustomed to your presence and behaviour as though you're not there. As a wildlife photographer I live for the moment an animal begins to ignore me.

I chose this image as my entry into #WexMondays a couple of weeks ago simply because I love wheatears. They have to be the best looking spring migrants in my opinion, and as they arrive in fairly large numbers they are a relatively easy subject to find and get to grips with. That's it for now but stay tuned for another Skye Diaries coming soon. Until next time, happy snapping!

If you'd like to see more of my work feel free to peruse my galleries and for all the latest images and news be sure to like my Facebook Page and/or follow me on Twitter.