The story behind a photo

10/30/2014

STORMY MURRES

 

In the summer of 2014 I participated in the field work in the Thule area in northern Greenland. Our base camp was on Saunders Island, which contains Greenland's largest colony of thick-billed murre, which simultaneously was the nature our biological work was concentrated around. The summer of 2014 was marked by historically bad weather - it was as if summer never really got started in northern Greenland. Periods of stormy weather were followed by periods of rain, which again went down in stormy weather. The days we work with the birds (or photograph, for that matter) were scarce.

 

The image (Canon EOS 1DX, 300 mm, F 2.8; 0.5 sec, f / 20, ISO 50) of murres are taken with excessive wind and the rain right on the edge of a steep cliff. I had days previously experimented with different shutter speeds of the camera, to try to find whatever shutter speed where the sea in the background got the right expression - a mixture of being blurred and that still could sense the wave crests. After quite a few attempts, I came to a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds was it that worked. The downside was that the murres on the rocky shelf of 0.5 seconds actually moving pretty much - too much to they appeared sharp.

 

That day I had been lying for hours in the tent waiting for the rain and the wind to stop so I could get out and work. Mentally I was exhausted after many days of bad weather, and physically made my back hurt after lying in the same position for days. Despite the rain clothed myself rainwear (it was still wet) and found my rain cover for camera / lens back and sat on the edge of the cliff. Camera tripod was indulged fixed to the rock and secured stable support for the long shutter speed despite a fiercely windy conditions. I fired between 200 and 300 images in which I tried to capture the white peaks at the right time. Back in the dry tent I could observe that, in virtually all the pictures were birds (motion) blurry sea is not "game" enough or birds looked into (left) in the rock, which served purely compositionally. Only a single photo worked, and had the right expression as I was looking for ...

 

The picture is part of the photo series COLONY - that can be seen  here:             

 

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