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We crouched low in a vibrant field of dandelions on the edge of a spectacular coastal cliff in the North of Iceland. It was bitterly cold, and the air was crisp, however we remained still, hands frozen but index fingers poised motionless above the shutter button ,waiting for the perfect moment to snap the money shot.

Above our heads hundreds of puffins flitted around like anxious bumblebees, ducking in and out of pot holes in the side of the cliff, plunging into the Arctic and emerging with a beak full of transparent sardines. A cautious approach meant we were within metres of hundreds of these comic creatures.

And though we snapped thousands of photos, each one better than the next, we continued to fail to capture the split second before flight, with wings outstretched and chests puffed out proudly. The key to wildlife photography is patience, and often you’ll be sitting observing a scene for hours on end before capturing the perfect photo. It’s all about timing, patience and a little bit of luck.

So with this in mind, after hours of staking out one of Iceland’s largest puffin colonies sitting on the edge of a cliff which dramatically dropped into the Arctic, I got half lucky. Half lucky in the sense that I was zoomed in too far so only got half the shot!

We left Tjörnes that afternoon without the shot that we were after, and so without further ado, I give you the almost money shot of Iceland’s famous puffins.

Despite having missed the shot it's still a half decent photo...literally!

Despite having missed the shot it’s still a half decent photo…literally!

The puffin is one of Iceland’s biggest wildlife draws. They arrive by the million for the breeding season between April and August, and nest on coastal cliffs all around the country in massive colonies.

With literally hundreds of puffin photos to sort through and edit, watch this space for more puffin tales!

About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    26 Comments

  1. That’s still a pretty awesome shot! In fact, I think you may have captured more interest by actually missing the shot if that makes any sense. It leaves us in suspense as to what those Icelandic puffins are staring at!

    • Thanks Chris! I never thought to look at it that way, but I like your way of thinking!

  2. Oh my goodness, I love puffins! I agree, that’s an awesome shot, even if it wasn’t the one you were after.

    • I love puffins too! They’re such gorgeous creatures – we literally spent hours before having to force ourselves to continue with our road trip lol! Thanks so much Heather – glad you like the shot!

  3. I love puffins and have adopted two through Audubon’s Project Puffin. Gorgeous, vibrant birds that seem to have so much personality. You are lucky to have been so close to them.

    • Wow what a cool project – I had no idea these kind of programs existed but will have to look into it. Definitely plan for a trip to Iceland – you can get so close to such large colonies – it was definitely a highlight of our trip!

  4. What a fun post, I love the almost perfect pic of the puffin and the stories of your journey. I have a beautiful tile of a puffin in my kitchen. They are such an amazing bird. Will watch your blog for more puffin tales.

    Minette
    —-
    Minette Riordan, Ph.D.
    CEO, MinetteRiordan.com

    “Align your financial and spiritual success now.”
    Take a Free Sacred Money Archetype Assessment
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    • Thanks Minette! So glad you enjoyed the post – I’ve fallen in love with puffins as well! Now it’s just a matter of sorting through our hundreds of photos to pick only a few!!

  5. Maybe not the shot you were envisaging but still an incredible photo! One that leaves a sense of mystery and therefore intrigue :)
    What a magical experience all the same! We really need to get ourselves to Iceland one of these day! Loving your photos and posts :)

    • I love your way of thinking! It really was such a magical experience – so surreal to have so many of them whipping around too!

      Highly recommend Iceland for your next trip; you won’t be disappointed it’s one of my favorite destinations – such a stunning country!

  6. WOW, I think its a pretty darn good shot! You have a great trainer. Puffins are so beautiful. Love your post! Great Job!

    • Thanks Pam! He has taught me well!! We have a few hundred puffin photos we can make you sit through once we arrive in Idaho!!

  7. Love these puffins, Megan!! They take me back to my days as a kid, immersing myself in the Enid Blyton Adventure series of books, where I first fell in love with puffins!

    • I haven’t actually read any of the Enid Blyton Adventure series – will have to remedy that; have been looking for great new reads! Thanks Wendy :)

  8. Maybe not the money shot, but still quite cool. I can’t wait to see the rest. Fun post. Thanks.

    • Thanks Rhonda! I’m sure it was quite an entertaining sight watching us sitting there, swearing as we missed shot after shot! Lol but it was a really great day and had a fantastic time being out in nature with these guys!

  9. That puffin is probably thinking, “Thank god she captured my GOOD side.”

    • Lol love it – it’s funny because I actually did get one with a full wing span, but he was facing with his back to us so it wasn’t really great at all :D!

  10. I love this shot! The fact that it isn’t perfect makes it more real and you can still see enough to imagine how amazing it must have been to be taking it.

    • Thanks Sarah! Really happy with the positive response from everyone lol even though I’ve been kicking myself for missing it! I’m actually starting to really like the half shot – maybe it worked out for the best!

  11. Are you looking to submit to stock galleries and such? Betcha the slightly irregular look might work for plenty of different folks – especially the ones that have a story about just missing the shot, missing the boat, or whatever. This kind of shot almost demands the rest of the story be told.

    • That’s actually a really great idea – one I hadn’t thought about before. Any suggestions on great stock galleries are definitely welcomed! Will start looking into this – thanks Chris!

  12. What a great shot! I think it’s on the money! I hadn’t seen a puffin until recently when some of the photographers I follow started posting photos of them, and now I really want to go to Iceland for more than the Northern Lights. They’re incredibly cute!

    • Thanks Sandra! Sadly we didn’t see the Northern Lights – but these little guys totally made our Iceland experience!! They’re so fascinating and we literally had to tear ourselves away from the colonies so we didn’t miss our hotel reservations each night!!

  13. I really love puffins: they’re cute and relatively easy to approach. Saw quite a lot of them in the Shetlands and Norway. That was in my pre-photography period though, but your post really stimulates me to go north again and do some wildlife photography… Nevertheless a lowely shot!

    • They’re definitely easy to approach! Just very skittish and always on the move lol makes it difficult to get a focused shot :D

      So very cool that you were in the Shetlands and Norway – both are still on our list of destinations to visit; would love to get there soon! So glad you enjoyed the shot, thanks Maarten!

      I hope you have the opportunity to make it up north again soon!

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