Photographing Grey Seals on the Lincolnshire Coast

This weekend I’m away with Guy and Cat Edwardes photographing Grey Seals with their pups in the wild as they congregate on the Lincolnshire coast. I love doing their workshops, especially their wildlife workshops….they are so thrilling and very good and helping me tweak my relevant skills. I’m hoping to get some great photographs of these amazing creatures displaying their various behaviors and interplay between the young pups and their family units. I’m not particularly looking forwards to the freezing cold North Sea winds or the scrabble across the mile wide wet sand flats….but hey, it’ll be a challenge and certainly different to my usual photographic endeavors!

Unfortunately, the accommodation doesn’t have any internet access and mobile phones where sporadic…I guess that’s the Lincolnshire coast for you!

Day 1

After a very pleasant drive up to the Lincolnshire coast the night before, we embarked at a civilised 7:30 am in the car to the edge of the coastal area. It was very cold and the wind was icy and savage. Today was going to be quite tough physically. We ventured very huddled and slowly to the shore edge to photograph some very shy and skittish grey seals. They weren’t very playful and spent most of their time bobbing in the water looking at us….not quite what we where hoping for. but it did give me ample opportunity to work how to compose a grey seal shot…they are very long and it’s very easy to end up with a photo which makes the seal look like a giant slug.  I had a thrill when one of the younger pups headed straight for me, i got a great head on shot….terrific!

We then broke for a very sand covered lunch, by now the sand had gotten everywhere! After we tried our hand with some ultra wide angle portraits with a very nonchalant young grey seal. This was done at around 16mm, were were very close!

We headed back the coastline for some more long lens work, only to find the Seals were even more lethargic than before. Then a light sand drift allowed us some great shots with another seal…which was very nice but covered all of us in sand particles. We returned to some portrait shots using a wide angle and flash gun to balance the light between the seal pup and the setting sun, I managed a few nice sunbursts in the background…but soon a load of wet sand sprayed onto my wide lens, rendering it pretty useless for the rest of the shoot. We finished off our day with a few shots of some playful pairs in the water under the warm light of the after glow…not bad for iso 6400!

it was a very slow and dark walk back to the car park. My waders had leaked, I was very cold and very soar. But a very memorable day and very happy with my photographs considering the lack of commitment from the seals”

Day 2

After a great night’s sleep, we awoke to howling winds and a slightly warmer day. It was still very cold, but a few degrees warmer. The sky was mostly overcast and the sun didn’t peak all day long. In fact the light was very flat and dull. Which was a real pity because the seals were in a far more playful mood today, typical. We started of with a few close up portraits using a 16mm and a flash….that’s right I was about 5cm from these dudes noses….and they REALLY smelt bad! The we each took one of the playful couples and used our best “sneek up and shoot” techniques, learned yesterday to get our own set of shots. These were a lot of fun, it’s just a pity the light was so flat and dull. There were a few Sander lings about and the odd photographer too! With an impending storm cloud looming overhead, we packed up at about 3;30pm and trekked back to the car in my “oh so comfortable and leaky” waders. It was certainly nice to get back home and sit in a hot bath for 1/2 hour and soak! Even better than having internet access again! LOL!