I have just returned to the UK after yet another monumentally successful photographic trip to the Lauvsnes area of Flatanger Kommune; more specifically, the White-tailed Eagles of Ole Martin Dahle.
This area of Norway holds a very special attraction for me – an ancient landscape tamed by its inhabitants and unspoilt by the hand of modern commercial greed. Waters so crystal clear and packed with an abundance of life that forms the basis of a completely unspoilt and natural eco- system; where apex predators co-exist side by side with people who make their living from the very same waters.
As a native Englishman a lot of people find it strange when I tell them that if I had the money and opportunity then I would move to this coastal region of Norway in a heart-beat: it would be the only conceivable way that I could do photographic justice to this spectacular area as there is seemingly a new photographic opportunity around every corner.
From superb White-tailed and Golden Eagles to landscapes, and all points in between, this region of Norway has an abundance of photographic opportunities to offer the photographer who is prepared to make the journey. Irrespective of the costs involved I'd challenge anyone on the planet NOT to find a trip to Flatanger one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences they could have in their entire lives.
And nothing gives me greater pleasure than bringing clients with me who have never been before, and who, on their return home, feel the same way I do; wanting to go back, and the sooner the better!
This latest trip has been the most spectacular to date with beautiful light and more eagles than I have ever seen before; with up to seven of them in the air above our heads at one time. Trying to make the most of golden opportunities like this is hard work as you are constantly trying to work out which eagle is going to dive for the bait fish. Combine this with swinging a 4 kilo lens by hand whilst trying to maintain focus and composition, all from a boat that is rolling in the sea swell, well; all I can say is that after four or five hours you need a rest!
Through his knowledge and experience with these incredible birds he can put the visiting photographer in front of so much action that you are literally begging him for a ten minute break if you are not used to the pace!
And you have to understand that it is not just a case of turning up in just the right place at the right time, there's a lot more to the art of photographing these eagles.
If there is no wind then the birds can come in to the bait fish from any direction which means that you can not predict their flight path, and they may also be flying with their tails towards the sun which means that their all-important faces are hidden in the shadow cast by their massive wings.
You get the same result when the wind is blowing towards the sun as all birds like to fly into the wind.
But Ole Martin knows all the areas in and around the islands and fjords where he can find variations in the weather conditions that are sufficient to give you good images.
This innate ability he has for being able to put you in the right place time after time is down to his understanding and appreciation of good photography; something which is quite unique amongst guides.
July 18th 2011
Andy Astbury Wildlife in Pixels