I’m just passing through!

Atlantic Puffin Alan Hewitt Photography

Atlantic puffin – ‘low profile walk’, Fujifilm X-H1 & 100-400mm lens.

I’m always keen to stress the importance of how fieldcraft is as important as knowing how to use a camera or understanding the basic principles of photography. Even some basic knowledge about a species can help you get your camera and lens set up appropriately and pointing in the right direction before the action starts. Spending some time thinking about the behaviour you are seeing from your subject, or those around it can be done while you are enjoying photography too – it’s not always about sitting in a library!

This photograph of an Atlantic Puffin was taken on a recent ‘one to two’ wildlife photography workshop on the Farne Islands. Normally I am a bit hesitant in keeping photographs where one of the subjects is so dominant and out of focus but it shows interesting behaviour from the main in-focus subject. This Puffin is demonstrating what is known as the ‘low profile walk’. Its purpose is to attempt to reduce aggression or show respect or submission to other Puffins when it lands outside of their own burrow territory. It signals an acknowledgement that it means no harm and is just passing through. This low profile walk is often accompanied by brief and rapid movement spurts.

It’s useful behaviour to look out for, it brings the potential to photograph any conflict which may arise with other Puffins and also the likelihood of a rapid take off back to its own territory.

While I took this shot, I alerted my clients to get ready for some action and sure enough the puffin made its way to the edge of the rock, spread its wings and jumped forwards to take flight.