I doubt there are many subjects more difficult to track and photograph in flight than Puffins. At full tilt I doubt there is an auto focus system in the world that can keep up with a Puffin and accurately track it as it moves across the ocean at speed and distance. They are incredibly difficult to track and capture and it takes a lot of practice and a lot of frames to capture something truly special. And to make things even more difficult the goal is not only to try and capture a sharp photograph, but to capture the subject in beautiful light and with ‘gesture’. All these difficulties make it incredibly rewarding when it all comes together in just the right photograph.
This photograph was taken out at Grimsey Island on my recent Ultimate Puffins workshop (Read the Trip Report) and really works for me in terms of subject, light and gesture. It is ultimately a very simple photograph, yet it holds wonderful emotion. I was standing near the edge of a 400+ foot cliff in strong winds near midnight. The Puffins were soaring on the wind currents and the late evening light was bathing them in a warm glow. I used the Canon EOS 1DX MKII with the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS MKII lens. I don’t recall how many photographs I made that evening in an effort to capture moments such as these, but was a great many.