Beautiful Birds of Prey (via a photography workshop)

Beautiful Birds of Prey {via a Photography Workshop}I’ve always been fascinated by birds of prey, the predators of the avian world. The thrill of seeing a sparrowhawk dart across the garden or a kestrel hovering over the fields when I was younger left me dreaming of one day seeing an eagle or an osprey.

I have seen many raptors since but when we were given the opportunity to help out with a birds of prey photography workshop by some friends, the opportunity to get close to some of these birds was almost too good to be true.

The workshop was being run by our good friends, Tony and Carol Dilger. They are both wonderful wildlife photographers and run occasional workshops to give people the guidance and opportunity to photograph nature.

This workshop took place at SMJ Falconry near Haworth in west Yorkshire and they gave us a variety of British raptors to point our lenses at. Tony gave us a talk beforehand, explaining the ideal camera settings and also some compositional techniques. I found the settings advise rather helpful, my cakes and breads are rarely travelling at the speed of a swooping peregrine falcon.

I didn’t have a long lens that are more suited to wildlife photography but we were able to get so close to the birds that my 105mm was often more than enough. The workshop started off easy, photographing a tawny owl and a short eared owl perched on a gate post. This eased us into the day.

We then moved into some woodland to photograph the birds with a different background before heading to some open land to photograph a little owl and a merlin. It was great photographing these birds, they all had heaps character and it was fun trying to capture that camera on film (well, digital sensor but that doesn’t sound so romantic does it!).

Beautiful Birds of Prey {via a Photography Workshop}


‘Click’ the young little owl was definitely the cutest bird we photographed, a tiny bundle of feathers with a piercing glare.

After lunch things got a bit more challenging, the birds were flying. Trying to photograph a bird moving at speed and getting that bird in focus with no blur {unless that blur is preconceived creative blur!} is a lot more difficult than it looks!

We started off easy with a barn owl, this stunning ghost glides at a gentle pace that even my unpracticed skill could just about cope with.

She had such personality, I thought she was going to land on me when she swooped in for this shot below but no, that fate was for Mr VB.

She perched amusingly on his lens for us all to guffaw at, and gave me a perfect photo for a caption competition! 

Beautiful Birds of Prey {via a Photography Workshop}

Beautiful Birds of Prey {via a Photography Workshop}


The birds got a bait faster after the barn owl. Next was a magnificent raven {not strictly a raptor but still a mighty bird }, I’m such a corvid fan but alas I got no usable pictures of him.

Then we were really challenged, an American kestrel followed by the tiny merlin. Both of these falcons flew with such speed it was nigh on impossible to track them with our lenses.

They did however fly in an almost predictable pattern making the job a little more achievable. The easiest was waiting for it to land on the falconer’s glove. I bagged that shot at least!

I would absolutely recommend a photography workshop like this, it takes you out of your photography comfort zone and encourages new techniques as well as subject matter.

It was great chatting with the group and sharing ideas. I’m thrilled with the pictures I got and the day was lots of fun.

For this sort of workshop, a little photography knowledge helps but you don’t necessarily need a big long lens.


Tony and Carol Dilger Photography

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By Rachel Davis

13 Responses

  1. Just when I thought your photos couldn’t get any better! These are gorgeous. Will definitely have to check out your friends’ website as my bf would love this – maybe a possible Christmas pressie;)

  2. love these – I am absolutely owl mad!

  3. Love this post! and awould love to go for such a photography workshop though I have doubts that I can capture the photos as well as you.

    love the shot of the gliding barn owl..
    think i would be scared stiff it an owl decides to perch on my camera lens!!

    • Thank you! She was such a lovely owl, I wouldn’t have been so scared! The workshop was fun, I’m sure you’d get some great shots, even if they aren’t the tricky flying ones. 🙂

  4. Dave Rowley says:

    Great photos! I really love the one of Chris with the bird sitting comfortably on his camera, and I love the big white owl. “my cakes and breads are rarely travelling at the speed of a swooping peregrine falcon” – maybe you could try this for a future post? I would love to see it!

  5. Ana Maria Locsiin says:

    Thanks for sharing.Beautiful pics.

    Sent from my iPhone

  1. September 11, 2013

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