Photographing grey seals on the Norfolk coast

Photographing grey seals on the Norfolk coast

I had one of the best wildlife photography days ever last weekend and I’ve been a photographer for well over thirty years!
I headed to the Norfolk coast with a couple of photographer friends at an unhealthy 3.30 am. The weather forecast was good: light cloud early morning then sunshine all day. For once, the forecast was right and the clouds duly cleared, leaving us with fantastic light.
Our plan was to photograph Norfolk’s grey seals. The coast around Norfolk is a real hotspot for seals and I think I’m right in saying that the U.K. has 40% of the world’s population of these marvellous marine mammals.
We arrived at first light (well before first light actually) then loaded heaven knows how much weight of camera gear onto our backs and headed off. There’s no easy way to be a wildlife photographer!
You can photograph seals at any time of the year but during December and January grey seals give birth to their young, which means there’s lots of seal pups to photograph. A real added bonus.
We walked many miles to get our shots but it was well worth the effort. I finished the day with a wide range of images from the seal pups to female adults and the very large bull seals.


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The soft winter light was perfect for bringing out the texture of the pup’s fur without causing over exposure. It was also bright enough to allow for a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion of our action photographs.
We even had time for a late breakfast in a local café as well as a couple of tea breaks which I think is an integral part of a great photography outing.
So, all in all, our trip to Norfolk was a complete success and I will certainly be visiting many more times in the future. I will be running two landscape photography courses in Norfolk next year so it looks like this wonderful county will feature quite heavily in my itinerary for 2015. Can’t wait!!

Please remember though, the female seals and their pups are very sensitive to disturbance. It is important not to get too close to them. There have been cases of the female actually abandoning their pups when stressed by too much interference. Always show respect and give them their space!

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