Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) don’t fly so easily over the North Sea, but stretch awkwardly along the surface and with every wave encounter a salt spray staccato that threatens to throw you off balance. In an almost desperate search for balance, the eyes are fixed on the horizon and gaze across the sky at narrow figures adorned in black and white, accented only by pale orange smudges on the tip and tail. Puffin. The very next moment they may be out of reach. And in doing so, you want to capture this unforgettable moment, examine it and share it with others. The question arises that if the human eye is having difficulty with these magnificent creatures at such a busy moment, what chance does the camera have?
“Weight is of the essence,” said National Geographic photographer Robert Ormerod on a recent assignment on the east coast of Scotland. “Usually you have to carry a lot of heavy equipment, and that can affect your freedom of photography.” For several days, Robert swapped his professional camera gear for a Canon PowerShot Zoom to capture some of the best moments near home—something to consider. About the challenges of viewing, setting up and capturing the perfect moment with a traditional camera.
Wind-blown on a RIB from North Berwick, a coastal town on the south bank of the Firth of Firth, Ormerode’s first stop is Bass Rock. Standing almost vertically above the waves, the 320-million-year-old chunk of volcanic rock looks almost like a giant iceberg, shimmering white and filled with gannets that hunt, nest and swim across the sky here. These large seabirds reach populations of about 150,000 during the high breeding season and, much to the delight of the photographer, nest in colonies densely along rocks – although this can be difficult to see. It’s relatively easy to take a good snapshot of a gannet on a rock face, especially with image stabilization that prevents the twitching and twitching of the RIB that brings wildlife lovers closer to the rocks every day. It’s a little more difficult to catch the accurate, black-outlined beak or the piercing blue eyes of a booby in a more targeted shot. “As long as the lighting is good, it’s fine to photograph a moving object from a moving boat,” explains Robert. “With more manual cameras, you’ll need enough light because the shutter speed has to be fast enough to avoid blurring the image.”
Devoted problem solver. Tv advocate. Avid zombie aficionado. Proud twitter nerd. Subtly charming alcohol geek.