Birds Of Prey (Part 3) - Behind the scenes

6/25/2012 5:22:54 PM

Meet the reader

Amateur photographer Paul was keen to step up his photo skills.

Description: IMG_8884,

 “I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer who is still learning the ropes and enjoying trying out different genres. I’ve always had an interest in photography but only began to take it more seriously in March last year when I bought a second-hand Canon 400D. I then signed up to a couple of courses to learn how to use it. I’ve since been spending all of my spare cash on buying new lenses and equipment.”


Meet the pro

Professional photographer Lewis runs regular photo workshops.

Description: from

Lewis Phillips is a full-time conservationist, he uses his imagery along with lectures to give an insight into lectures to give an insight into habitat loss and countryside issues in the UK and other countries. Lewis sells his work worldwide through a number of agencies and his new photography workshops are proving to be very popular, particularly among wildlife enthusiasts who want to photograph native birds of prey. For more information on Lewis’s work and details about upcoming workshops, please visit his website.


Behind the scenes

Here’s an overview of how the day went.

Getting down low

Description: the white-tailed sea eagle

Here’s Paul photographing the white-tailed sea eagle. Getting down low for this shot enabled him to shoot from the same eye level as his subject, this also gave him the best-possible view of the bird. Lewis recommends always shooting your subject at its own eye level for the best results.

Little portrait

Paul is once again on the same plane as his subject. Using a wide aperture setting he was able to blow the foreground and background interest out of focus for more artistic photographic results. Lewis points out that when using a wide aperture setting you will need to ensure your focus point is on the eye of the subject matter

Paul Stephens’ thoughts on the day

What’s the best piece of advice you received on the day?

Lewis gave me so much valuable advice throughout the day, but what I found most useul were his tips on how to tweak my camera settings to get more interesting and creative shots.

Do you feel this experience has improved your photography? How?

Absolutely. The advice that Lewis gave me as well as his encouragement to think about every photo carefully before I took it was really useful. He also taught me to regularly check my exposure on the histogram, which meant I ended up with more quality photographs at the end of the day. This is a good practice that I’ll continue to apply to all of my photography in the future. I also learnt a lot about the birds themselves and the conservation efforts that Lewis and Eagle Height are involved with.

What was your favourite moment of the workshop?

The whole day was fantastic and I feel privileged to have seen and photographed such wonderful birds close-up, which would be so difficult in the wild. My highlight was photographing Skye, the beautiful White Tailed Sea Eagle, soaring above the Kent countryside and swooping over our heads.

Lewis Phillips’ thoughts on the workshop

How do you feel the course went?

I think the course went well and we were blessed with good weather, which is always a bonus when working outside.

How was Paul as a student?

Paul was an extremely good student. He listened well to all the advice given and I believe this showed in the work he went home with.

What was your personal highlight?

Paul took some great images on the day of birds that most people would not have normal access to. I was also able to give him an insight into all the issues that the birds face, which is an important part of the day to me.

What does Paul most need to work on?

I think Paul had good understanding of composition but needs to maybe explore different shooting angles so that he can achieve more original results.

What are your top three tips for Paul?

1.    Make good use of lines to lead the eye into the images.

2.    Try to compress the scene with a long focal lens.

3.    Get on the same level as the subject you are photographing.

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