The wild north-west
Duncan Steward was drawn to spectacular scenery of the Faroe Islands and their abundance of bird life
After many trips to Scotland and some to Iceland, I thought it was time I paid a visit to the Faroe Islands. That the islands were located geographically between Scotland and Iceland, and resembled topographically a mix of both, was most appealing. The fact that approximately 300 different bird species have been recorded on the islands only added to the photographic potential from my point of view – especially because at the time of year I planned to visit, June or July, the islands’ famous puffins are in attendance.
As a child I had visited Lundy Island, and the name Lundy is thought to come from the Old Norse for ‘puffin’. That claim that sounds plausible given that in the Faroe islands, the puffin
Dropping through the dense clouds that often shroud the coastline, and then glimpsing the towering cliffs, was breathtaking
is known as ‘lundin’. One of my objectives was to capture images of puffins, so a visit to Mykines, the most westerly of the 18 islands, was planned. The first glimpse of Mykines when descending into Vágar Airport is an experience in itself; dropping through the dense clouds that often shroud the coastline, and then glimpsing the towering cliffs emerging straight out of the ocean, was breathtaking.
Plans… and backup plans
For photographers who want to get close to puffins and other
nesting sea birds, Mykines is a dream location. Whenever I’ve been on short photography trips, I’ve found that researching and identifying possible locations in advance really does pay dividends, especially when shooting time is in short supply. However, the unpredictable and changeable Faroese weather will put your ability to adapt your plans at short notice to the test on a daily basis.
On the first day I arrived on Mykines, high winds were a problem, especially when attempting tripod-mounted long exposures. Later in the week, low cloud and fog dominated much of the day, and my travel umbrella saw action on more than one occasion! The fact that it remained light from 4am until well past 11pm extended the shooting day considerably, and meant that I had time to revisit missed locations when conditions improved.
01 Chu rch at Vidareidi settl ement , Vidoy islan d Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-105mm, f/3.5-5.6G ED, 1/320 sec, f/18, ISO200
02 02 Gásadalu r villa ge, VÁ gar islan d Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED, 1/500 sec, f/16, ISO640
03 Gull with youn g, Mykines islan d Nikon D5100, Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED, 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO1000