Since I moved to Norway it has been a wish for me to visit the bird island Runde at the Norwegian west coast. From April until August Puffins nest on the island. From August the birds don't come back to land until April next year. So if you want to photograph them, it has to be between April and August. In the previous years I didn't have the time to make this trip happen. But this year it had to happen. And it did.
I visited the island for 3 days in mid-July. Before I started the trip, I already had the images which I wanted to take, in my mind. I wanted to get portraits, birds in the landscape, (orange colered) back-light, flight shots and my favorite: panned images. Sadly the weather wasn't in my favor. The whole time I was on the island, the sky was filled with thick clouds. So I could forget about the (orange colered) back-light and really had to push the ISO in order to get some flight shots. But I still could go for the other shots.
During the day the Puffins are out fishing on the sea. Sometimes they shortly return to feed their chicks in the nests, to only leave the land as fast as they arrived. In the evening the birds stay on land for a couple of hours. This is the best period to photograph them. Luckily there are several Great Skuas nesting on the island, which gave me a nice subject to photograph during day time.
The first day I focused on observing the birds, in order to get to know their behavior. Once you know the behavior of the birds, it is a lot easier to get the shots you want. It helps you to predict what the animal is going to do, so you will be ready for the action shots. While observing, I made the first portraits and "birds in the landscape" shots.
After having learned a bit about the behavior of the birds on the previous day, I focused on getting action shots on the second day. With the Puffins I really had to push my ISO up in order to get some shutter speed.
Having trained my focus tracking skills the day before, I only focused on panning shots on the last day. I knew it was not going to be easy, but it was what I wanted. I think I passed on quite some situations where I could have made some nice other pictures, but I kept my settings on the slow shutter speed the whole day. And in the end it payed off.