Where To Find Them?
There are plenty of places around the British coastline where you can photograph Puffins including the popular Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast. There are plenty of boat excursions which run from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands but the boats can get rather full during the summer months.
What Gear To Take?
Puffins aren't the biggest birds so you'll need a long telephoto lens to get frame-filling shots. Taking a support
is a good idea and if you plan on staying in one place, a tripod
is fine, however you may find a monopod
is easier to walk with and will take up less room. Just be careful where you put your support down as some Puffins do nest close to the public walkways.
Bright sunshine plus a black & white bird can cause a real headache for photographers. Check your exposures and pay attention to your histogram to make sure there aren't any blown out highlights. You can also meter manually, taking a reading from a near-by patch of grass. Working manually is particularly important when you're trying to capture Puffins in-flight as the change in background can confuse the camera's meter and cause it to under or overexpose the shot. Try shooting in RAW too so you can make adjustments to the image's highlights and shadows once you're back home.
Setting The ISO
For shots of the bird's in flight as well as on the ground you need to set an ISO sensitivity that'll give you the shutter speed you need to shoot blur-free shots. Many DSLRs now cope well with high ISOs so this shouldn't be a problem.
Single-Shot Or Continuous AF?
For birds on land, single-shot AF is fine, however for ones in-flight, switch to continuous AF and track them, panning as you go to keep them in the middle of your frame. To capture them in-flight, study the birds as they come into land and see if they tend to land in one particular area. You should start to see patterns emerge too where the birds will follow a predictable path when they reach a known point. Side-on or front shots work well but due keep an eye on your backgrounds because even though there's not usually much around, other visitors, birds and light-toned rocks and vegetation can all cause distractions if placed in the back of your shots.