Birds of Prey Event Report

After a successful two day event where Nottingham Outlaws members had the opportunity to photograph some of the Birds of Prey owned by a professional local falconer, Phil Hodgkinson presents a report on the shoot.

A couple of months ago my Father, John Hodgkinson, came to me with an idea for an event he would like to organise which he thought would be of interest to members of the Nottingham Outlaws PS.

We both attended a Birds of Prey workshop in August which we thoroughly enjoyed and gained many interesting shots of birds, most of which we would unlikely see in a natural environment, and afterward we discussed how much fellow NOPS members would have enjoyed the event. This was the foundation of John’s idea.

A key to arranging the event was to provide the same quality that we had experienced at a cost low enough to make it feasible to members so John felt it important to obtain the services of the same falconer and arrange a location which combined a picturesque area with enough privacy to host the shoot without worrying about public straying into shots. This put locating the falconer at the top of the list and with only a first name to go by, he knew it would not be an easy search.

Eventually however, despite a few red herrings and dead ends, John managed to find the falconer that he sought and begin negotiations of pricing and the scouting of a location. A few weeks later they had found an excellent location in Newstead Abbey and finalised a fee which would fit in with the pricing strategy that John had in mind and he began the invite process to club members and the list began to fill up.

The numbers who booked to take part was sufficient to spread the event over to days and was finally held on Sunday the 18th and Wednesday the 21st of October.


I attended the latter of the two dates after already hearing how much the members who attended on the Sunday had enjoyed the event and despite weather forecasts to the contrary, enjoyed a rain free day with some warming low sunshine in the afternoon which provided great lighting for photographing our feathered friends.

Birds, particularly those in flight, are not the easiest of subjects to capture which meant there was a steep learning curve for many of us but we all came away with shots we were pleased with. John Young springs to mind with this when, for a while, it appeared the only thing he was getting were some truly magnificent images of grass but I think the following photo may shed some light on this!

Missing the Shot by Phil Hodgkinson

Fortunately after a short time, our competition secretary honed his technique and got some fantastic shots!


The different kit and techniques varied throughout the group, which I found very interesting, from Flick standing at a distance (sometimes almost in surrounding shrubbery!) with his fixed length zoom to Lester Woodward showing imagination and creativity by using a fish eye lens for the flight shots and getting some marvellous close up action images.


As well as the experience of photographing these wonderful birds, some Outlaws members such as Lois Webb and Jon Fletcher to name a couple, even got the chance to fly them!

This was a nice gesture from the falconer which added to the enjoyment of the day and provided an experience that we rarely get the chance to participate in, one experience however was completely uncontrolled as an Owl decided to use my camera as a perch!, thanks to Lester for capturing it.

_-4 by Lester Woodward


Over the last couple of days I have seen some excellent images from members begin to pop up on Flickr and Social Media showing some real successes from the event, particularly as shooting birds of prey is a little out of many photographers comfort zones and not something they do on a regular basis. With this in mind, I have compiled a short slide show of the event which will feature at the foot of this report.


I would like to thank John for organising the event and Lee the falconer for providing us with his expertise and being most accommodating in the requests from club members to ensure they got the best out of their day. Finally John would like to thank all of the Nottingham Outlaws members who attended the event for their participation and making this location shoot a huge success which hopefully we can build on and see similar events in 2016.


 – Phil Hodgkinson, Media Secretary.

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