Light path

Charlie Hamilton James's Image

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.

Behind the lens

Charlie Hamilton James


Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife and conservation photographer for National Geographic Magazine. He specialises in stories and issues in South America and East Africa. He has shot 14 stories for National Geographic.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • 24mm f1.4 lens
  • 1/6 sec at f11  •   ISO 400
  • River Boyd, South Gloucestershire, UK
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