Look, I Can Fly!

I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip to Skomer Island, off the West Wales coast. It is a wildlife haven, and uninhabited by humans (except the naturalists looking after the island and visitors). It has one of the largest puffin populations in Europe, as well as guillemots, razorbills, seals and so forth - a paradise. Puffins are easy to photograph on the ground, as they are almost tame, and you can stand still and they sometimes literally walk over your feet; photographing them in flight, however, is very hard, and I failed for an hour and a half - they were quick, unpredictable and frenetic - I was almost fast enough a couple of times but the auotfocus wasn’t. So I changed my approach and had a good look at where they were most frequently taking off and landing, and I then pointed my camera in that direction and waited for them to come into the viewfinder. It needed some patience but I was rewarded richly. This I think was my favourite on this occasion, showing that puffins seem to find flying difficult, and often crash land and fall over. This bird was just coming into land…

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

Any observations at all…

Technical Details

Nikon D850 with Tamrom 150-600mm G2 lens. I don’t have a gimbal and just perched the camera/lens on a nearby post to avoid aching arms and to keep the camera steady. Fairly basic processing, including the square crop, which I hope looks good.


I really like this head on landing pose. The head and the feet look very sharp and there’s enough blur in the wings to convey motion. One can imagine the birds in the background checking out this guy’s landing technique. For me, the back of the head and the black part of the shoulders seems to blend in a bit with the background and I could see darkening these areas. Congratulations on your patience paying off so well.

Oh my gosh, I love this image!!! This one put a giant smile on my face. What a great, unusual pose you captured. The colors are beautiful. This is just nit picking. The three B&W spots, which I think might be puffins could be cloned out or at lease the one on the R edge of the frame That one draws my eye the most and once it’s gone, the other two might be ok left alone. I also find myself looking at that small bright area on the bridge of the nose. Maybe darken that just a tad. Thanks for making me smile.

I really like this, Phillip! I think Puffins are really neat birds, I’ve never seen one in person but have seen a lot of pictures where they are just on the ground. So I think this is a great action shot. It’s very unique and I think having the blurred birds in the background adds to the overall interest of the photo. Nice unique capture!

You know, most birds are so graceful while flying. But those takeoffs and landings can be quite comical. Great catch, Philip.

Phillip, I love this shot, and for good reason, I love Puffins and I love face on shots of birds! I saw this the other day but didn’t have time then to comment. I also like that you included some out of focus of what looks to be Puffins on the ground that just seems to frame him nicely. Such a nice shot. I saw these for the first time in Seward, Alaska, and they were swimming underwater at the aquarium there. I fell in love with them right away.

Hi Philip
Puffins are right up there on my top 10 birds to photograph. I am glad you found a way to get some good shot. This one has a nice expression, with great color, feather detail and eye contact. Nice work.

Thank you Allen - I see what you mean about the back of the head etc. and I shall try to darken a little if I can manage that without effecting the overall “naturalness”. Ditto @Donna_Callais regarding the nose, though I kind of like that sparkly feel. Again, the out of focus puffins made me wonder, as they are so out of focus it is hard even to see that they are puffins, so thought they might just look like a spotty distraction, but then again, I sort of quite liked them and made for a less plain background: iI can’t quite decide!! @Vanessa_Hill thank you very much, Vanessa, for dropping by and posting a nice comment! @David_Bostock Yes, puffins are so comical-looking; they seem to be a species almost losing their ability to fly, careering through the air in a frenetic way, and then sometimes crash-landing and falling over!! I love them though and have booked my place on the boat to Skomer again this coming summer and can’t wait… @Shirley_Freeman I’d love to be able to see them fly underwater. I’d love to visit Alaska sometime, I think it seems to be a haven for wildlife! @peter Again, thanks so much for making some nice comments. Once again, thanks to everyone for helpful remarks, and looking forward to visiting your own posts.


They make for excellent subjects. Your approach paid off indeed, rendering a wonderful image. Congrats on the EP ! Cheers, Hans

Thank you Hans, and sorry for belated response!

Your patience was rewarded! Great detail and composition. Do you need the puffins in the background? I feel they add interest. This is a terrific capture.

Thank you so much, Anna, for your encouraging remarks and for takingbthe time to view the image. I’ve booked a return trip to Skomer this summer and hope to build on skills acquired on laat summer’s trip. Plus get a look in on the razorbills and other birds and wildlife such as seals. Philip