WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Runner-up 2013

Behaviour: Birds

Charlie Hamilton James, United Kingdom

Light path

This dazzling picture of a kingfisher was taken on a river in southwest England, close to where Charlie lives. He has been passionate about kingfishers since he was a teenager, and as with all his photography, he tries to devise new ways to present familiar scenes and subjects. To create this image took two days and a lot of prior experimentation. Charlie lit the kingfisher's flight path artificially, while simultaneously creating a shadow on the bank to highlight the colourful trajectory. Firing two strobes at the end of the exposure caught the detail of the head and wings. The result is a vivid scene, showing not only the kingfisher taking a fish to its young in their nest hole but also the family's riverine territory. The other parent is on a perch downstream, busy digging a new nest for a second brood.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 24mm f1.4 lens + cable release; 1/6 sec at f11; ISO 400; two Canon strobes + one 2.5kw blonde light.

River Boyd, South Gloucestershire, UK: latitude 51.5023, longitude -2.37505 River Boyd, South Gloucestershire, UK: latitude 51.5023, longitude -2.37505

River Boyd, South Gloucestershire, UK

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Charlie Hamilton James, United Kingdom

Charlie is a National Geographic magazine photographer who specialises in conservation issues with particular interest in Africa and the Amazon.

  • Lookout for lions
  • Treading water
  • Filthy riches
  • Inside job
  • Wild West stand-off
  • Children of the rainforest
  • The beautiful end
  • Big chick check-up
  • Patient care
  • Vultures as individuals
  • Vultures as commodities
  • The last stand