I travelled to Norfolk with a couple of friends for my annual seal photography trip just before Christmas. After checking the weather many times the forecast was good, sunshine all day, perfect for this type of photography.
I also needed to check the tide times because if there is a really high tide predicted the seals get pushed further up the beach which makes it hard to get a shot with a decent background.
The tide times were fine so we were good to go. I love being on one of Norfolk’s wide open beaches watching and photographing one of the UK’s greatest wildlife spectacles. There’s so much to photograph from seal pups interacting with their mothers, huge bulls protecting their patch of beach to last year’s babies messing around in the surf.
The most important element to this type of photography and location is to make sure that you are sensitive to the animal’s welfare, which in this case means using a long lens so that you can keep a good distance away from the subject. I will never get too close to any seal just to get a shot. As long as you are sensible a great day’s photography is available to anyone with a reasonably long zoom lens.
The key techniques for this type of subject are the same as they are for any type of action photography. A fast shutter speed to freeze any movement and to stop camera shake, good timing to capture a unique moment, good control of depth of field, correct use of auto-focus modes and of course patience.
I have photographed Norfolk’s seals many times and have built up a really nice collection of images. The only thing I haven’t managed to capture yet is two bull seals having a dispute over territory. I saw a fair old fight taking place this year but I was the wrong side of a wooden breaker to record it. Still there’s always next year. I’m sure I’ll be back on Norfolk’s wide beaches once again watching and listening to this yearly spectacle as the drama plays out.