Recently I travelled to Hornøya, a small island located way up north in the Barents sea, on the border between Norway and Russia, in municipality of Vardø in Finnmark county, Norway. Hornøya is known for its large population of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, and cormorants. The island is accessible by boat from Vardø, if you’re a tourist there are several companies that offer tours to the island from here.

Puffin in Flight

Puffin in Flight

If you are interested in photographing puffins on Hornøya, you will need to bring a long lens. Puffins are very sensitive to noise and movement, so it is important to be as quiet and still as possible when photographing them. You can also try using a tripod or monopod to stabilize your camera and reduce camera shake.

When I visited Hornøya, I was struck by the beauty of the island and its wildlife. The puffins were especially fascinating to watch as they flew back and forth from the sea to their burrows on the cliffs. I was able to capture some great shots of them with my camera, but it was definitely a challenge. The birds move quickly and erratically, so it takes some patience and skill to get good photos.

Puffin in Flight

Overall, Hornøya is a great place to visit if you are interested in photographing puffins. The island is beautiful and peaceful, and the wildlife is truly amazing.
Puffins are adorable birds that are popular among photographers. They are known for their colourful beaks and their ability to “fly” underwater to find fish. Puffins are found from the east coast of Canada over to the west coast of Europe, and are consequently accessible to photographers around the world.

Puffin with Fish

The classic shots of puffins we see again and again are addictive, and you never really grow tired of them. You can’t help but take a simple portrait of a bird using a nice, soft bokeh. Everyone does it, but I highly recommend you follow suit, especially if it is your first time photographing puffins. Do it well, and you will be proud of the results. Add some sand eels and you’re onto a winner! The next one to tick off your list is a flying puffin. When puffins are nesting, the sky will be filled with birds returning to their burrows (yes, they live underground) and you can capture photos of them in flight.

Couple of things you should know about puffins; First, puffins only return to land over the summer months, spending the rest of the year living at sea. Therefore, puffins are not land lovers, and are instead much more suited to life on the waves. Puffins can be found in many locations around the world, including Iceland, Scotland, and the United Kingdom.

Puffin Looking to land

Puffin coming into land


When photographing puffins, it’s important to be respectful of their environment and not to disturb them. A long lens such as a telephoto zoom is perfect for capturing puffins on your camera without causing them to fly away.
If you are planning a trip to Norway, I would definitely recommend adding Hornøya to your itinerary. The two places to go for puffins on mainland Norway is Runde and Hornøya.

Puffin at home

Espen Lossius.

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