The Gull

On a trip to the Yorkshire coast earlier this year I found myself on a coastal path surrounded by sea birds. In particular, one bird caught my attention:

Herring Gull

A formidable looking gull sits amid a sea of clifftop grasses, eyeing my closely as I take the shot

Standing out brightly against the background blue sea and sat in its own sea of green clifftop grasses, this herring gull was watching me with a wary eye. I made full use of my enormous zoom lens (much to the envy of my friends) to get in close and personal. And what a striking bird it is! That fiery yellow eye framed in red is like something out of a Tolkien novel, and that cruel sharp beak makes it clear that this bird is equipped to survive! So often we see these birds but I have never stopped before and just looked at what an awesome evolution they really are.

Photographically I shot with a moderately fast aperture of around f9; the sea was a long way away so would easily soften into blur, and I wanted to capture the grasses local to the bird to give it a real sense of place. This is where these birds belong, not carrying out high-speed dive-chip stealing raids in some seaside town. This bird is in its element, and boy does it look it. Softening the grasses would have reduced that impact a little. The placement of the bird in the scene is important, to the left, looking right, with space to look into, it was a case of balancing the positive space filled by the gull, with the negative space of the blue sea filling the right. Lots of complimentary colours too, blue and green predominantly, with a little yellow that is quite happy with them both, and just that dull red of the eye – red is such a strong colour that it always pulls our eyes, and here it does exactly what I wanted – forces you to make eye contact with really quite a formidable bird

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