Two places left on Photography Workshop

There are now only two places available on the Photography Workshop 26th February 2011.

Please don’t miss your chance –  Book Now if you want to come on this special one-day ‘no-frills’ photography course for the budget price of £35

The One Day Photography Course on 6th February is already FULLY BOOKED

Find out more about these ‘no-frills’ budget photography courses here in Kirkcudbright

How to Attract Wildlife to the Camera

My friend Ken Terry has been producing some lovely wildlife photographs again – this time of a red squirrel. Ken has been a regular student on my photography courses and photography holidays for some years and I have been pleased to watch and encourage the progress of his now formidable skills as an accomplished wildlife photographer.

Ken now has lots of tricks up his sleeve when it come to attracting wildlife to pose in the right position for his camera. Most often the way to a wild animal’s heart if though its stomach – especially at times of the year when food is scarce.

Ken’s photograph was taken about 7.30am one May morning 2010.
Logs from a nearby wood pile were arranged in the shade, moss placed over them and hazel nuts hidden away underneath the moss. The perfect attraction for a nut-hungry red squirrel.
With the trap in place, Ken sat back to wait for his subject.

Squirrel photograph Ken Terry

Ken Terry's charming photograph of a red squirrel - some strategically placed hazel nuts help attract this little chap to the right spot

  • Camera: Canon 1D Mk3
  • Lens: Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS lens
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture: f/4.0
  • Shutter speed: 1/160sec

Ken told me: “The shutter speed is slower than my usual speed for wildlife, but I didn’t want to put the ISO up any more or the aperture any wider – in fact I would have preferred a slightly narrower aperture about f6.3 to f8″.

Well done Ken, another beautiful wildlife photograph.


£10 OFF Photography Holidays & Courses

It’s time to be planning holidays and ventures for the coming year. So here’s good news to help you get extra enjoyment from your photography in 2011.

If you book one of my Photography Holidays or Photography Courses before January 16th 2010 – you can get a discount of £10.



To get your £10 discount, just pay your £100 deposit as normal and I will deduct £10 from the total cost of your Photography Holiday or Photography Course… it should be enough to buy a nice bottle of wine to celebrate the New Year. If you have any questions – please just get in touch.

Please note: this offer does not include my new ‘no-frills’ One Day Photography Workshops – now come on, be fair, they only cost £35 as it is.

Childhood dreams of Wildlife Photography

Two of us were working in the snow this Boxing Day morning – logging a very large conifer tree branch that had snapped off and come down in gales some weeks ago. The chain saw was screaming and making a din, there was a crash and a small avalanche of snow as the branch finally gave way and fell to the ground and Norene, bless her, appeared with steaming coffee and a mince pie.

As we stood warming our hands on the coffee mugs we noticed a mouse-like movement among the snowy pine cones and needles nearby. It was a little goldcrest – the smallest of all European birds.

This fearless little creature was heedless of our presence and the noise and disturbance we had been making – he flitted among the undergrowth with complete lack of concern. At one stage he perched no more than two feet away from my friend’s face. A brazen little fellow.

I hadn’t the heart to continue chain sawing his small patch of the world after that display of bravado, so we tidied up and left him to his search for food in the snowy wastes at the top of my garden.

Back indoors I looked up the goldcrest on Wikipedia. For such an extraordinarily beautiful and diminutive creature – how on earth did it end up with the scientific name of Regulus Regulus? Few things are less ‘regular’ than a goldcrest.

I makes me think that living here in beautiful Bonnie Galloway, which boasts such an array of unspoilt countryside and wildlife, perhaps it really is time to rekindle a childhood dream of becoming a wildlife photographer. In those days my hero was the pioneer bird photographer Eric Hosking. Mind you – again reminding myself by reading Wikipedia – Eric Hosking only made his big breakthrough as a professional bird photographer when he lost one of his eyes after being attacked by an irate tawny owl.

There are tawny owls at the top of my garden, too. Perhaps I’d best leave that fallen conifer branch where it is.

Photography Courses with Philip Dunn

Happy Christmas to PhotoActive Photographers

Here’s wishing all the photographers who have been on PhotoActive  Photography Holidays in Menorca, and Photography Courses in Scotland a Very Happy Christmas.

Norene and Philip Dunn hope you all have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.

All our very good wishes

Happy Christmas to all Photographers from PhotoActive

Happy Christmas to all PhotoActive photographers - Photograph by Philip Dunn


Ice Flows & Earthquakes?

It makes me think just how puny we humans are compared to the power of nature…

Last night there was an earth tremor here in Kirkcudbright. It shook the house and rattled the fillings in my teeth. It only lasted for a few moments and I think it only registered something like 3.2 on the Richter Scale – but this is Kirkcudbright in SW Scotland. Earthquakes just don’t happen here – or so I thought. The ‘epicentre’ of this particular tremor was across the Solway in Coniston, Cumbria and there, apparently, it knocked things off wardrobes and pictures off walls.

It seems that earthquakes are more common than we think in Cumbria.

And then there’s all this ice! Great rafts of this terrible stuff are now crashing down the River Dee on the ebb tide. Like most of the other boat owners who have boats berthed on the pontoon in Kirkcudbright Harbour, I’ve had to try and protect my boat from these dangerous ice flows by suspending planks of wood at water level around my boat. A slab of ice four inches thick travelling down river on the ebb tide can do a lot of damage to a boat .

ice kirkcudbright

Slabs of ice heap up on the banks of thr River Dee, Kirkcudbright as the tide ebbs.

A small group of us were this afternoon standing on the pontoon and we watched one of these ice flows hit a buoy in the river. The heavy buoy was all but submerged and sunk by the power and weight of the ice.

Yes, we think we are so smart with all our sophisticated technology these days, but compared to the power of nature, we really are pretty puny. Still all this icy weather has made for some interesting photographs.

Brrrr! Plan a holiday in the warmth for 2011 – find out about Photography Holidays in Menorca

Photography Courses & Holidays E-brochures

My apologies to those of you who have tried to send for e-brochures for Photography Holidays & Photography Courses – the link on the small banner on the right side of the inside pages has been broken – my fault.

photography courses photography holidays e-brochure

It is now fixed.

If you would like to know more about the Photography Holidays & Photography Courses coming up in 2011 – I can usually send you the e-brochure within 24 hours.

If you would also like me to send to a copy of our paper brochure – please fill in the form here.

Once again – sorry if you could not find the e-brochure page when you needed it.

PhotoActive teams up with Jacobs Digital

The PhotoActive website is now an an official affiliate of Jacobs Digital.

Jacobs is the Largest independent photographic retailer in the UK, operating out of 20 stores across the UK, from Newcastle to London. A true specialist for the amateur, enthusiast, hobbyist and professional photographers with over 10000 products online.

The aim very soon is to connect directly to Jacobs Product feeds – this will enable you to get all the latest live product details as they are stocked at Jacobs –

I have, and still do, use Jacobs myself for most of my photographic gear, and speak from personal experience when I say that their after sales service was excellent. It is true that you may find certain photographic products cheaper elsewhere by scouring the internet, but I prefer to deal with people who are prepared to offer sound product information when I am buying, and reliable after sales service when I have bought.

I also like the fact that when I telephone – a real person answers the phone and I am never fobbed off.

Jacobs Digital are reliable and I highly recommend them.

Winners of Photography Courses

The winners of a photography competition for photographers who work or are involved in fish farming – a major business in Scotland – have been announced. Both photographers will win photography courses with me here in SW Scotland

I was one of the judges for the competition and the winner – Alan Dykes with a wonderful photograph of a dolphin leaping out of the water with a fish farm in the background – photograph below. Alan wins a fully-inclusive Weekend Photography Course with me here in Kirkcudbright at the Selkirk Arms Hotel.

Photography Course Winner Alan Dykes - Dolphin

Photographer Alan Dykes took this great shot of a dolphin near a fish farm to win a Weekend Photography Course with Philip Dunn

Photo Competition Runner-up was Carol Small with a picture of a woman feeding fish on a fish farm – photograph below. Carol wins a one-to-one Photography Course for one day with me in Kirkcudbright.

Feeding time at a fish farm - photo competition

'Feeding Time' Carol Small captured the action to become runner-up and win a one-to-one photography course

Other photo entries can be seen on Flickr here – there are some great photographs among the entries and choosing the winners was far from easy.

The Aquaculture Team of Intervet / Schering Plough Animal Health UK ran the photography competition to promote the launch of a service SliceMonitor to its UK customers. This service is available to customers in the UK who use a products called Slice. SliceMonitor is an integrated programme to help salmon producers get the very best from Slice.

Knowing that many of their customers were interested in photography and work in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, the company decided to arrange the photography competition with photography courses as prizes.

Find out more about Photography Courses & Workshops with Philip Dunn

More Garden Wildlife Photography

Ken Terry, one of my regular photography course (and photography holiday) students sent me the fabulous shot below after he saw my picture of the sparrowhawk photographed through my kitchen window. Ken went one better than me by laying his hands on his big (500mm I think) Canon telephoto lens in time to capture the sparrowhawk eating its prey.

Ken Terry said:

I saw your blog and I had the same experience in February this year.

This was taken through the kitchen window like you. I chose to watch it for a while in case getting my camera out frightened it away, but once I had observed what it was doing with a dunnock (I think) I got my big lens out and fired some shots off hand held. The problem is that the double glazing has given peculiar imagery on the background branches.

Wildlife Photography Ken Terry Sparrowhawk

Ken Terry's great wildlife photograph of a male sparrowhawk with its prey - the picture was shot through a double-glazed window

I, like you think this was a male sparrowhawk. The male goes for smaller birds; a dunnock is a small bird and the male tends to have an orangey hue to its breast.

At work I heard a wood pigeon hit an office window and then I saw the sparrowhawk that must have been chasing it. I only caught a glimpse, but I imagine that would have been a female. But I’m no good at telling the sex as I’ve only usually just caught glimpses of them.

Ken Terry is a very accomplished wildlife photographer and this is just another example of his skill. Thanks for sharing the photograph, Ken.

After posting about the sparrowhawk, someone emailed to ask is I did not feel sorry for the blackbird. Of course I did, but this is wildlife and nature in operation, and I feel very privileged to witness such events and to be able to photograph them – especially when they happen right outside the kitchen window.