Hello Sweet Peas!
Welcome to day 19 of Blog a Day in May!
Today is the first part of a double post. The second half will be published in the last week of May.
If you’ve been following my blog a while, you might have noticed that my photography skills are getting better, slowly but surely. My reasoning for getting into photography was quite by accident. I kept having photographers let me down, so I bought myself a camera and decided to do it myself. How hard can it be right? Turns out pretty hard.
That is the reason I signed up for a photography day with Walks With Hawks. I wanted to learn more about my camera and how I could improve the quality of my work…and get to hang out with some cool birds at the same time.
Walks With Hawks are a company based in the Cotswolds in England. They have over 22 different birds of prey and they do experiences all over! Now, I’ve seen a lot of bird demonstrations, I grew up fascinated by birds (my first job was in a Bird of Prey Centre), but these guys stand out from the rest. You can tell they are passionate about their birds, they clearly love them and are very knowledgeable about them! But above all, they respect their birds, acknowledging that they are wild animals and not pets. I think this is what sets them apart from other centres.
There were four of us on the Photography day. All of us from completely different walks of life, and completely different cameras. I will admit, when I first got there my social anxiety was peaking, I felt physically sick. This feeling lasted about 10 minutes after we got started. The Walks with Hawks team made me feel so welcome and so at ease that within an hour I was settled and chatting as though I’d known everyone for years. That’s a big deal for me, as anyone with anxiety will understand.
We started off with portraits. We went outside to a tree stump that had been set up and out came Lulu, the most beautiful owl I have ever seen. She was posing and giving us all her best angles (let’s face it, every angle is her best angle!), all the while we were advised on how to improve our pictures and adjust our cameras (learning lots about Lulu along the way as well).
Next, came the star of my day! When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Golden Eagles. I pictured them as these giant birds that towered over people. I was that kid who liked all the dangerous animals (who am kidding I still like all the dangerous animals). Well, this beauty wasn’t quite the giant I had imagined as a child, but he was certainly heavy!
My camera is very good at close up pictures, which is great for taking pictures of makeup. But the zoom isn’t all that great, so getting a close-up picture was feeling a little impossible. But the team encouraged us to try different levels and to get up close. Me and my little zoom lens ended up sat in the grass right underneath this huge eagle. Best Day Ever.
And then it got even better! As I mentioned, I’ve been to a lot of Birds of Prey centres, but I’ve never held a bird. Between anxiety and my nerve damage causing violent twitches I never felt confident enough to do it. Once again the WWH team were fantastic. They encouraged me (but didn’t pressure me), and guys…I held a golden eagle!
Words cannot describe how happy I am in this picture. And yes, he was very heavy, I had a sore shoulder the next day. After this amazing moment, we went onto trying to capture the birds in flight…this was when my camera died. Thankfully, I brought my charger, so I was able to save it and it meant I could watch and fully appreciate the beauty of these birds in flight! I didn’t manage to catch any pictures, but I’ve seen some of the photos the rest of the group captured. They were stunning! (I did manage to capture some footage of this, a video will be coming in part two!)
After lunch, we came back indoors and started working with the studio set up. In true, Little Miss Ay fashion, I had a camera that wasn’t compatible with the flash equipment! But, hope was not lost! I was able to use Nigel’s camera (our photographer/mentor for the day). His camera was a lot more swish than mine, so it was interesting to take pictures with it because it was so different to my own. And Henry (the barn owl), was the perfect model!
I can honestly say I learnt so much from this experience and I would (and do very often) recommend it to everyone! If you’re in the Cotswolds area in England you should give them a ring and book yourself onto an experience (not sponsored, genuinely love them!), they are number one for things to do in the area! Check them out for yourself!
I will be posting part 2 in the last week of may with all my pictures and video from the event! If you’re not a Sweet Pea yet, click that follow button to keep updated with all my posts. I am posting every day this month for Blog a Day in May! Come back tomorrow for day 20!
I am also posting every day on Instagram! (Lots and lots of pictures from this event as well!). Follow me on social media, links are below!
Love Ay xx