Latrabjarg Atlantic Puffin 36

Latrabjarg Atlantic Puffin 36

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was my third visit to Iceland, but Tony Wu’s first. As part of his pre-trip incentive to live out of a van with me for two weeks, I had promised him that I would take him to see Atlantic puffins. The bird cliff at Látrabjarg is among the best locations in the world to photograph them, but in order to get there it requires a long drive along some awful roads.

Our goal was to spend two days and nights photographing puffins, during which we were rewarded with ideal conditions. We kept an Arctic summer schedule by sleeping during the day while most of the puffins were out at sea fishing, anyway. By the time the light starting getting good in the early evening, the puffins had returned. The sun barely dipped below the northern horizon after midnight, so we simply stayed up and prepared for another round of fantastic light. I enjoyed photographing the puffins and observing their comical expressions, but I told Tony that I do not think I ever need to drive all the way out to Látrabjarg again.

Atlantic Puffin 7

Atlantic Puffin 7

I want to share another one of my favorite Atlantic puffin images from the bird cliffs at Latrabjarg in the Northwestern Fjords of Iceland.  It took me 9 years to return to this fantastic location so that I could photograph these cute birds.  I was fortunate that the clouds parted late in the evening allowing the sun to bathe the cliffs in golden light.  I like this puffins open beak with the fantastic bokeh background of the cliffs behind it.

Atlantic Puffin 18

Atlantic Puffin 18

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours editing, processing, keywording, and sizing my Atlantic puffin photographs for the web. As busy as my summer is, I am not going to finish processing the rest of my Iceland trip any time soon. This is one of my favorites. I like how the puffin’s breast is pointing forward with the orange bokeh from the sunset illuminating the cliff. I always preach that the most important part of a great wildlife image is not the subject, but what is going on behind it. Clean, simple background like cliffs and mountains in the distance yield the best results. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens on a Gitzo GT2931 tripod with an Acratech Ultimate ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

Atlantic Puffin 1

Atlantic Puffin 1

This is my favorite Atlantic puffin image from my Iceland trip. I had wanted to do-over the puffins I shot on my first visit to Iceland 9 years ago. I was glad they were still around, though not in the same numbers I remembered. I only spent 1 night photographing them on the cliffs at Latrabjarg, but was fortunate the sky was clear at sunset which bathed the puffins in golden light. Just when I thought I would have the cliffs to myself, a tour group showed up. I can’t complain because I moved around enough to avoid the puffin-jams and still photographed some beautiful poses. The cliffs are between 50-100m high, so I got as close to the edge as I was comfortable, but people have fallen to their deaths by getting too close, including an unfortunate German tourist a week after my visit. My heart went out to his family when I heard the news. I’ve got many more puffin & Iceland images to share in the weeks ahead.