Rain or Shine...

Each year in July I make a trip to Elliston, NL to photograph Atlantic Puffins and Black Guillemots. Elliston is a great place to view Puffins as their breeding island is only about 20 yards from the mainland and if you are lucky with the right conditions the Puffins will often land on the cliffs edge of the viewing area allowing for very close looks.

My plan was to head out at 3:30 am on Saturday morning since its a 3 hr drive and I wanted to allow myself as much time as possible at the Puffin island. As I always do I checked the weather the night before and to my disappointment it called for heavy rains through out the night and into the morning. Do I stay home and sleep in or do I risk the trip and hope for the best? Well no photos can be made just laying in bed so 3:30 am I was in the CR-V and off I went.

3hrs in thick fog, pouring rain and so much water build up on the roads it would have been better if I took a canoe instead of driving but I made it. As I figured, I was the only one at the view area. The rain at the time was light so I setup my camera gear covering it in one of those cheapy plastic covers and sat back watching the puffins flight path. I could tell the puffins wanted to land on the edges so I sat back quietly and waited. Within 10mins one puffin landed, then another, then another...once one puffin lands the rest become confident and join in...it had begun and I was the only one there to enjoy it. 

With basically no light and rain I was having to use high ISOs to get enough speed to freeze the subjects...lucky for me Jenelle had just purchased a D610 and it just so happened to be in my bag(lol I'm joking she let me borrow it). 

This image was shot at 1250 ISO and its very clean and sharp. I didn't use any noise reduction at all. What might look like noise in the BG is rain.

This image was shot at 1250 ISO and its very clean and sharp. I didn't use any noise reduction at all. What might look like noise in the BG is rain.

I have to admit Full Frame is the way to go. I love my D7100 but I cant push it in the ISO department and get the beautiful results like a Full Frame. The only reason I wouldn't go full frame all the time is that you lose the 1.5x crop factor of the DX. Now that we have both at our disposal I will certainly be using the D610 at times.

With the rain falling on the puffins they would often shake or flap their wings to dry off. This allowed for some great photo ops of puffins in action. 

Some puffins were still in nest building mode even though it was very late in the session for that. I guess it doesn't hurt to maintain your nest.

Battling the rain and winds can be tiring so a few puffins decided to hug the rocks and enjoy some rest.

With so many puffins around me (by this time there was atleast 30) I was continuously looking for that unique angle, action or perfect composition. I had spotted this one patch of purple flowers and kept my ayyention there for a while. One puffin decided this would be the perfect place to rest allowing me to capture the following two images which are my favs from the trip. This is also when I noticed a fellow flickr contact Steven had made the rainy trip over to the island. Its always great to see a familiar face and enjoy some photography together. 

Now that I had a few hundred shots under my belt I decided to try something a little more creative as the puffins seemed very interested in me. I grabbed my ultra wide lens which is my Tokina 11-16mm and belly crawled up to the cliffs edge and that patch of flowers. I laid motion less and within no time a few puffins became very curious of me.

This was shot at 16mm which meant he was probably 2 feet away from me. In the BG to the left is the breeding island.

This was shot at 16mm which meant he was probably 2 feet away from me. In the BG to the left is the breeding island.

The rains just didn't seem to let up and even the puffins were looking to the skies praying for it to clear.

At one point it got so heavy I decided it was time to head back to the CR-V since many of the puffins had decided to retreat to the island for cover...but not before I grabbed these few images..

After a quick sandwich and something to drink I couldn't rest just sitting in the vehicle. I cleaned the water off my gear and back into the elements I went....

Part two coming soon...