WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Natural Design

Andrew Forsyth, United Kingdom

Murmuration in the storm

Andrew started following the starling murmurations, at their roosts in Brighton, on Britain’s south coast, in November 2013. ‘Many photographers have explored this subject, and so I challenged myself to find a new way to capture the spectacle,’ he says. The flock’s winter numbers are boosted by thousands of migrants from Europe. On their return from foraging each day the starlings gather in large groups to perform spellbinding aerial shows, before heading to communal roosts for the night. ‘I started simply documenting the murmurations,’ explains Andrew, ‘before moving on to setting them against cityscapes and then to creating more expressive shots using handheld, and longer exposures’. Towards the end of a large murmuration, the birds would split into small groups, performing ever closer to the water until they were only just clearing the surface. Despite the severe storms that hit the coast that winter, they continued to perform this routine every night. Shooting into the lashing rain, Andrew was constantly cleaning his lens. He balanced the motion blur he wanted against the sharp elements in the frame. With the stormy sea as backdrop, he captured the traces of the murmuring starlings, which look as if they are disappearing into the wind and waves.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens; 1/6 sec at f22 (+1 e/v); ISO 200.


Brighton Pier,  UK: latitude 50.8182, longitude -0.136654 Brighton Pier,  UK: latitude 50.8182, longitude -0.136654

Brighton Pier, UK

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Andrew Forsyth

Andrew Forsyth, United Kingdom

Andrew is a freelance photographer and digital asset management consultant based in the UK. He studied photography at university, then worked as chief photographer for the RSPCA for 15 years. Now travelling more widely as a nature photographer, he enjoys documenting urban wildlife, particularly primates, and is a previous award winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.