Saturday, 26 July 2008

HH Images in August 2008 Bird Watching Mag

Several of my images have been used in a special article on cetacean-watching from the UK Mainland and are published in the August 2008 edition of Bird Watching magazine. The full-page Killer Whale image was taken just a few miles from our home and brings back incredible memories. It was one of five animals that I had spent the morning following with the Nature in Britain team and photographed it just four of five metres off our 36ft boat. It was the first encounter my daughter had ever had with any cetacean - at the ripe old age of 2 weeks old! Go girl!

TW3 19 - 26 July

I was office-based for most of the week working on some new projects for 2009 but managed another session with my baited Bonxies to capture some more aggression images and a few sessions with a nice assortment of summer-plumaged waders in the south Mainland. A fine flock of 20+ Knot gave OK-ish opportunities and they were joined by this stunning summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper - which landed right in front of me!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Iceland 2010 - NEW Pho-tour

I am now taking expressions of interest for a new pho-tour to one of my all-time favourite locations - Iceland. The trip is scheduled to run in late June 2010 (I am already booked solid for June 2009 here in Shetland). To register your interest please e mail me. Please note that I will only respond to e mails that contain a mailing address and a daytime contact telephone number.

One space remaining on Finland & Arctic Norway: 14 - 21 March 2009

This trip has once again proved exceptionally popular and has nearly sold out within just a few days of being announced. I now have just one vacancy as of today, Tuesday 22 July 2008. All of the trip details are here and a few more pix are presented to tempt you! I am also now offering the possibility to customise the trip to include 2 full days in a heated hide photographing Golden Eagles - contact me for more info.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Birds of Scotland

Of the 900 photographs published in the absolutely stunning Birds of Scotland, I was well and truly over the Moon, Mars and Jupiter when I was told that 96 HH images were accepted for publication. This is no mean feat as some of the best bird photographers in the UK submitted large volumes of work for this project and to be up against the best of the best was challenging. There are a lot of HH rare 'n' scarce species as one might expect, but what is personally pleasing for me is how many common species made it in to press that I had specifically set out to photograph on trips to the Scottish mainland and Orkney with this book in mind. So, having over 10% of the images is a bit of a personal milestone for me on a publishing project as large as this and I for one am bloody well proud of it!

I cannot speak highly enough of this book so here is the official blurb from the SOC web site:

The SOC is pleased to announce the publication of a major new book on The Birds of Scotland. This is the third in a line of Scottish avifaunas, following in the footsteps of the Misses Baxter and Rintoul's 1953 'The Birds of Scotland' and Valerie Thom's 1986 'Birds in Scotland'.In two full-colour A4 hardback volumes, containing some 1,600 pages, this encyclopaedia of Scottish birds is written by 150 experts and edited by Ron Forrester, Ian Andrews, Chris McInerny, Ray Murray, Bob McGowan, Bernard Zonfrillo, Mike Betts, David Jardine and David Grundy. All 509 species ever seen in Scotland are included, from the all-important breeding species and winter visitors to the regular migrants and one-off vagrants that combine to make the Scottish avifauna so varied. The significance of Scottish populations is placed in context, and threats and gaps in our knowledge are highlighted. Extinctions, colonisations and the ups and downs of many species illustrate the ever-changing nature of our avifauna stretching back through the 200 years of documented ornithology. Illustrated with 900 first-class photographs and 1,500 charts and maps, this landmark publication is a must for everyone with an interest in Scottish birds - from the casual naturalist to the professional ornithologist, and for visitor and resident alike.

Footnote - its also nice to see my contribution to all things Scottish in the references section...

Friday, 18 July 2008

TW3 12 - 19 July

After guiding all weekend and the early part of the week I spent the remainder concentrating on getting some more general stock, taking advantage of the dark, gloomy conditions at the back of Noss. That sounds a bit crazy but its really great light (or lack of it) to bring out the detail on Gannets and the low-noise high ISO settings on the Canon 1D Mark III allows me to be very creative. There were also some opportunities to photograph marauding Bonxies, including two having one hell of a fight over a dead Gannet. I also spent a bit of time in moorland photographing Bog Cotton but had more success with some really great Whimbrels.

Killer Whales managed to evade me on two occasions but one of our Shetland Wildlife groups scored with a pod on Yell and had some great views. On the subject of cetaceans, it was great to see the proofs of the new Whales and Dolphins of the European Atlantic which features a lot of my work. On the same theme, our Company of Whales holidays started back-to-back voyages across Biscay and we are now out there running four day trips until mid September.

Also in the week I put a hide up at a site where I have had some pretty good success with Otters in the last few months. It seems as though every time I enter a hide, the action starts right away - not that I'm not grateful! Within 5 minutes of waiting I had this Otter swim very close to me. So close, my 500mm f4 became redundant and I wished I'd used my 300mm f2.8. Well, you just don't expect those sorts of things to happen with Otters do you! So, a few shots from the week...

Thursday, 17 July 2008

HH Pix on Daily Telegraph Earth

My Killer Whale image taken a couple of weeks ago featured on the Daily Telegraph Earth website today. Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

HH short listed for BBBPY Again!

Having come third in 2006 and fifth in 2007 , for the fourth consecutive year I have been short listed in the British Birds Bird Photograph of the Year competition. I know who the winners and losers are and strangely enough I have an identical image to the guy who came second! Thats because were were photographing the same bird doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time - but being the Muppet I obviously am, I decided not to enter it and probably lost myself second place! I cannot name him here as the official results will be announced in the August 2008 edition of British Birds, but he is one of my best mates and has my biggest congratulations. Well done Mr T. Like I said, the results with be in BB and I'll upload my short-listed image then. In the meantime, here are the two images that didn't make the short list, probably because the judges had fallen asleep (a) because they had drunk lots of red wine and / or (b) they got sleepy looking at pictures of Puffins. I'll also include the evocative poetry that you are forced to write when you enter something like this so that the tail enders can cut and paste it for their next entry. A word of advice though - remember to change the name of the species and the date.

Subject & Photographer: Little Gull by Hugh Harrop

Photographed at: Kuusamo, Finland, 31 May 2007

Equipment used: Canon EOS-1D Mark II with 500mm f4 IS lens hand held Exposure: 1/1600 second at f5.0. Evaluative metering reading under exposed by 1/3 stop. ISO: 200 White balance: Auto

Statement of manipulation: Levels increased slightly and unsharp mask rated at 150% on a radius of 0.3 pixels at threshold 2.Slight enhancement of saturation and rotated 2 degrees CCW to straighten image. Image cropped to 10 x 15 cm as per entry spec.

Circumstances: Late May 2007 saw me once again in Finland. A late evening visit to Lake Kuusamo was at first disappointing as the sun was still high and directly in front of us. At around midnight and as the sun finally dropped (!), a number of species like Arctic Tern, Whooper Swan and Common Terns offered some tremendous back-lit opportunities. Many Little Gulls were present, but their jagged flight made images tricky to say the least.

Subject & Photographer: White-winged Black Tern by Hugh Harrop

Photographed at: Biebrza, Poland 10 May 2007

Equipment used: Canon EOS-1D Mark II with 500mm f4 IS lens and 1.4x EF II converter all mounted on a Gitzo 1325 tripod with Manfrotto 501 video head. Exposure: 1/100 second at f5.6. Evaluative metering reading under exposed by 2/3 stop. ISO: 200 White balance: Auto

Statement of manipulation: Levels increased slightly and unsharp mask rated at 150% on a radius of 0.3 pixels at threshold 3. Slight enhancement of saturation. Some water droplets cloned off the head to enhance effect of sharp head. Image cropped to 10 x 15 cm as per entry spec.

Circumstances: The first half of May 2007 saw me in eastern and northern Poland and I made a three-day visit to Biebrza Marshes. The weather was wet and very humid with almost constant heavy showers and thus few photographic opportunities! This however proved to be awesome for viewing marsh terns, with many hundreds of White-winged Black and Black Terns in suitable habitat. A true spectacle in itself. Resigning myself to the fact that the sun was never going to come out, I decided to try my hand at some motion blur images which I?d tried here in Shetland on many a dull winter day! After spending a while studying the birds I noticed that when they were hovering for prey, the head remained almost still. The birds were not that close to me so I had no option other than to use a 1.4x Teleconverter. The fastest shutter speed possible to keep digital noise to an absolute minimum was 1/100 sec so I focused on the head of this bird and hoped that the rapid motion of the hovering wings told the story. It proved rather difficult as the majority of images showed at least some head movement and thus blur in all the wrong areas, but I managed several acceptable images in a variety of poses. This image was taken very late in the afternoon and I really wished I had wised up to what potential this subject really offered. I learned two fundamental things that afternoon: firstly, make the weather work for you as opposed to against you and secondly, take every opportunity that is presented to you!

Of course the third thing I should have learnt that afternoon was not to have bothered entering it!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

TW3: 5 - 12 July

A very busy week in the office updating and launching the 2009 Shetland Wildlife web site and working on the 2009 brochure meant very little time for photography though being desperate to get out and about, I did manage to squeeze in three private pho-tours for clients. A flock of migrant Crossbills at Sumburgh Head gave me the run around on several occasions as they either disappeared completely or decided to go and feed on thrift-heads at the bottom of a cliff! Anyway, I managed some half-decent shots but want to get better, particularly where composition is concerned - easier said than done when you are hanging off the edge of a 300ft cliff. Hopefully next week...

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Friday, 11 July 2008

HH's work on new RSPB Shetland Info Boards

Several of my images have been commissioned for the RSPB Shetland information boards including these at Sumburgh Head - Razorbill, Twite and Kittiwake.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sniping Around

Its always a great feeling to end a pho-tour on a high. For three of days early morning photo shoots (and I mean early morning!), my two Japanese clients and I have metaphorically murdered pretty much all of the Shetland moorland breeding species. But in these three days do you think we could pin down an approachable Common Snipe? No. So, I got my thinking cap on and worked out that the marsh we'd be in had at least 10 pairs of Snipe - but was missing something - a fence post. So, fence post nicked from my garden, strategically positioned in front of two dome hides, first flask of coffee opened and presto - Snipe on a post. Doomo arigatoo gozaimas, as one would say in Japan...

Monday, 7 July 2008

New Bird Images Uploaded to

New images taken on my April, May and June 2008 trips to Finland, Norway, Poland and Spain have been uploaded to the showcase birds gallery on the main website. Click here to view them.

It's Official - I am a case study!

Fortunately those are the words of Shetland Islands Council, not my shrink. Yes, I've been profiled by our local authority and you can view it here. More importantly, the Red-throated Diver image is HH pic and there are lots more on this new 'cooncil' site.

HH's work in new RSPB Shetland Booklet

Several of my images have been included in the new RSPB Shetland booklet which will be available very soon. Here are a few examples...