On the 15th of August I arrived bright and early to start my three days at Birdfair 2014. My remit was simple, take photos that would represent the fair and the experience of volunteering and to keep the Birdfair Twitter and Facebook feed ticking over.
What Is Birdfair?
Held at Rutland Water, Birdfair pulls in over 20,000 visitors over the three days yet outside of the wildlife and birding circles its virtually unheard of. The list of exhibitors is extensive and include many from the world of optics and photography, including Nikon, Canon, Leica and Park Cameras as well as holiday companies, camping gear, conservationists and book shops.
In event tents guest speakers talk on chosen subjects. Those ‘in the know’ recognise many of the author names but to those outside the area will still recognise many of the names. Crowd pleasers like Chris Packham and Simon King of Spring Watch and Autumn Watch, Bill Oddie of Bill Oddie fame and Big Cat Diary presenter Jonathan Scott and his, way too talented, photographer wife Angie.
The atmosphere during the weekend is a unique one. Here in a nature reserve in the UKs smallest county is a collection of people that have an immediate affinity with each other, who’s love of the subject means they can, and will, talk about birding with any one and everyone. Without doubt, the best part of Birdfair is the people and the energy they bring to the event.
Taking Photos of The World’s Best Nature Photographers
Working alone I walked a path around the event, nipping into marquees before heading off to the larger talks by the ‘celebs’. This gave me the unique experience of seeing Birdfair both as a volunteer and visitor. Catching people at work was a real challenge. Volunteers were tolerant and the celebs wanted to be caught right.
Imagine though, trying to quietly sneak up on Jonathan and Angie Scott as they enjoyed a coffee to snap them in their ‘natural environment’. Here are two people that take images of big cats, elephants and hippos that I could only dream of doing, and there’s me, bumbling my way through tall grass. Luckily, like so many of the speakers, they are truly lovely people. Jonathan even remarked on how well I was ‘finding the angle’, kind and flattering words indeed.
The Birdfair Twitter account was manic for the weekend. I had to put my phone on silent most of the time as it was constantly pinging that someone had mentioned Birdfair. It seems the community spirit of these people extends into the cyber world. As I write this my time as the voluntary social media guy is coming to an end and I know I’m going to miss it. Teaching Social Media to apprentices I see time after time how difficult it is to get this kind of interaction. Again, there really aren’t people like Birdfair people!
Prior to my arrival a desk had been put aside for me and I was able to retreat there when necessary. About every 2 hours I returned to upload the card to the laptop and handle any social media I hadn’t been able to in ‘the field’ (literally). Working with Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw I edited images and then uploaded them to a cloud based folder. This made the images available to the local press and Birdfair as quickly as I could.
This worked well but I couldn’t help having a niggle in the back of my head that I have Lightroom Mobile and I really should utilise this more. Already this week I’ve started examining my workflow further and started to use Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile. No doubt I’ll be writing about it here and on TipSquirrel in due course. Am I a Lightroom convert? Very nearly!
My Birdfair weekend was very enjoyable and already have the date in next year’s calendar. Thank you to everyone that made me feel so welcome, volunteers, guests, speakers and exhibitors, I may be a visitor to your world but I was made to feel like it was my home.