Headshots on Hornøya

The birds on Hornøya Island were spectacular! A couple species perched or nested fairly close to the rocky trail, so I was able to work on head shots of them.  Initially I focused on clear shots of their heads without any activity so I could capture the details in the eye and feathers.

The European Shags liked to stand on the rocky ledges near the floating dock and watch all visitors coming to the island. Their green eyes glowed and they turned their heads constantly from side to side, allowing me to get the right angle to light up their eyes. With the image below, I picked my aperture of f/6.3 for a shallow depth of field and was able to use a lower ISO since there was a lot of light despite it being partly cloudy.  I used a slightly fast shutter speed in order to capture a sharp image due to the high winds that made it difficult for me to hold the camera and lens still.

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Image: European Shag perched on a rocky ledge on Hornøya Island, Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, hand-held

The Atlantic Puffins stayed close to the vertical cliffs since their colonies were at the base.  I realized that when I stayed still for awhile, they became curious and came out of their holes to stand on rocks relatively close to me.  The coloration in their faces was amazing.  For this image, the light was less so I had to bump up my ISO to 800.  I was also able to improve my exposure by dropping my shutter speed a little without losing sharpness in the image since the location where I was standing was more protected by the cliffs.

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Image: Atlantic Puffin perched on a rock on Hornøya Island, Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 410 mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO 800, hand-held

After getting a few close-up headshots of these birds, I backed away a bit to get them in action.  It was fun capturing the Shags preening, as they tended to elongate and twist their necks to reach all their feathers.

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Image: European Shag preening on a rocky ledge on Hornøya Island, Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 240 mm, f/11, 1/800, ISO 400, hand-held

The Atlantic Puffins were also active in fluffing their feathers throughout the day.  The conditions became even more cloudy so I had to increase the ISO and drop the shutter speed even more, but I was able to keep the image sharp, despite being hand-held. 🙂

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Image: Atlantic Puffin preening on Hornøya Island, Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 410 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO 1250, hand-held

It will take me awhile to process all the images I took over on the Hornøya Island.  I’ll try to feature some of the other species as well in future posts.  We are heading up north to Berlevag, Norway tomorrow to look for some other species of shorebirds for the next couple days.  I hope to have internet connection up there to post more, but if not, we’ll be back to Vadso on Thursday!

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Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

20 thoughts on “Headshots on Hornøya”

    1. Thanks Chris! I know, I totally want to bring back a puffin too! Wait until I post a video of the colony! When you see them walk and land (face planting into the plants), it will make you want one even more!


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