As luck would have it
I live on the shores of Belfast Lough. Now this has one or two disadvantages, like when there’s a storm, it can get pretty intense with the biblical rain and the roof wrecking high winds. It’s not all bad though, we even have the odd decent day.
We get to see all sorts of wildlife, Common Seals, who are my wife’s favourite, Oystercatchers, Curlews, and the crazy ‘Toe Dippers’! Yes at the first sign of sun you’ll find people in paddling or worse, swimming. Why? It’s the Irish Sea and it’s cold all year, period.
A few times a year, I catch sight of a Cormorant sitting pretty, sunning itself in the morning sun. I always have the same thought, ‘someday I’m going to photograph you’. I’m pretty sure it’s different birds. But there’s always an issue; the light hasn’t been right, it’s too bright, tides too far out make for a distracting background, etc. As always I like to shoot my personal work on black & white film, I’m looking for a very specific set of conditions which give me the minimalist look I prefer.
Then it happened… almost perfect conditions!
It was a cold morning with the sun fighting its way through the early morning mist with just about enough water to cover the beach but leave a few rocks sitting proud of the surface. Then I spotted the unmistakable silhouette of a Cormorant sitting on a rock trying to eek out whatever little bit of heat from the sun’s rays that he could. I had what I can only describe as a instinctive reaction. Spinning into action I hurdled my dog Tilly, she’s a very small Jack Russell (I hear the the Olympics beckoning me) took the stairs two at a time to grab my Hasselblad with the longest lens I had a 250mm, some Ilford HP5+ film and headed for the beach.
En route I stopped in my neighbours garden
Grabbed some shots from an elevated height in case the cormorant decided that it was camera shy. As I headed to the beach to try and get closer I convinced myself that as soon as the Cormorant would seen me it would become camera shy. Not being a wildlife photographer I had no expectations as to what the bird would do! Luckily for me the Cormorant seemed to quite like the camera, well it is a Hasselblad 😉 after about a dozen shots the cormorant decided I’d got enough and we went our separate ways.
The frame that I liked best was the one in which fate decided to give me a helping hand with the extra bird just as I pressed the shutter button. I could claim the credit but that would be unfair to fate. Whilst there I took the opportunity to capture a few frames of the small fishing boat. The Cormorant may not have been on my bucket list but I’m still grateful to get the chance to capture an image I’ve had in my head for very long time.