Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays

5* Shetland's only Five Star Tourism Awarded Wildlife Experience
Call:  (0)1957 710 000

Shetland’s Simmer Dim Nature Photography

With Brydon Thomason & Richard Shucksmith

Holiday overview at a glance:

  • Leadership and expertise of two guides
  • Maximum of eight photographers (one-to-four guest/guide ratio)
  • Group rotations – for most of itinerary guests are rotated between leaders on either one-to-two or one-to-four photographers ratio
  • Opportunity to track and photograph Shetland’s otters
  • Unique opportunities to photograph northern specialty breeding birds from purpose built hides
  • Boat charter for gannet feeding frenzy photography opportunities
  • Sunrise/sunset opportunities to capture inspiring landscape images
  • Develop and hone field craft skills and subject knowledge


  • Saturday 17th June to Saturday 24th June, 2017
  • Saturday 24th June to Saturday 1st July, 2017

Our unique wildlife photography holiday in the enchanting Northern Isles is led jointly by Brydon Thomason and Richard Shucksmith. With their unsurpassed insight and local knowledge as well as their expertise of a native and resident Shetland based wildlife photographer, this tour/workshop offers a totally unique and innovative opportunity to capture inspiring images of Shetland and its wildlife…

To nature and landscape photographers the Shetland Isles is a truly tantalising location. Majestic cliff scenery, unspoiled wilderness, teeming seabird colonies and moorlands that are alive with some of the nation’s rarest and most evocative breeding birds – all offered in what is literally around the clock light. The opportunities are world renowned.

This specialist photography workshop is designed so that we can work with guests with a reasonable level of understanding of nature photography through to experienced and committed photographers. Through our group rotations we are able to pair guests off so that everyone is on similar if not equal levels so everyone gets what they need to out of each assignment.

The tour is timed to maximize opportunities and so runs over the height of the northern summer, known locally as “simmer dim”. We will be based on Shetland’s northernmost island of Unst for most of our stay, at the very top of the British Isles. The island is celebrated for a diverse range of wildlife habitats from blanket bog to seabird cliff, freshwater marsh, heather moorland and the strange moon-like “fellfield”, and is home to Hermaness and the Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserves. From here we are also well-placed for exploring the neighbouring islands of Fetlar and Yell, and the north Mainland.

The Wildlife

Special target birds in our itinerary will include arctic and great skuas (better known locally as Allan’s and bonxie’s), puffin, gannet, black-guilemot (or tystie as we call them) many species of breeding waders including curlew, golden and ringed plover (many with chicks). On Fetlar we may be lucky enough to find the rare red-necked phalaropes as they feed on a freshwater loch. Weather permitting; we shall make boat trips out to the gannet colonies at Noss or Muckle Flugga where we have innovated exciting opportunities to photograph gannets at their very best!

Time will be allocated to each of these species so that photographers can enjoy time to work on one species at a time, maximizing potential for producing exciting and creative images.

Purpose built bird hides are one of many ways we demonstrate how hard we work for photographers and the images they create. Brydon has created a niche in the islands by innovating and building hides for several of Shetlands most iconic breeding birds, some of which feature in this itinerary. Guests will be rotated in two’s or three’s to work on both arctic and great skua in hides designed especially for each species where they will enjoy exciting opportunities to photograph these fascinating species at bathing pools. There is huge potential here for inspiring behavioral images as birds bathe interact and often disputes and fights breakout.

Otters are very much a specialty of ours and the experience and images our guests enjoy is simply unrivalled. By rotating guests in two’s throughout the itinerary all photographers have the exclusivity of joining Brydon to work with Otters by learning the vital field craft and skills needed to photograph these fantastic creatures.
This exhilarating opportunity to learn about and enjoy the opportunity to photograph wild otters is very often the highlight in an already action packed, unique and rewarding itinerary. With our field experience and local knowledge we have an excellent chance of delivering this “holy grail” to our clients.

Landscape photographers will have the opportunity to capture inspiring and dramatic images with Richard, who’s images of Shetlands breathtaking wilderness are renowned. Using the very best of the magical ‘mid simmers dim’ light, often throughout the night, Richard will offer opportunities to stay out late or get in early starts for guests keen on landscape photography.

Moderate fitness and agility level is required for this trip – some parts of the itinerary involves a fair amount of walking, perhaps up to five miles a day. Note especially on Otter tracking days the terrain and pace can be challenging however there is always the offer to help with carrying gear – something that we regularly do for guests when working on otters.

What do I need to bring?

Warm clothes (layers), hat, gloves, waterproof coat and trousers, sturdy walking boots/footwear all recommended and also avoid bright colours.

Best suited for DSLR camera equipment and any or all of the following recommended:

  • Spare camera body
  • Telephoto/zoom lens – optimum would be 400 or 500mm however 200 or 300 2.8 with Teleconverter also suitable.
  • Wide angle/zoom lens for landscape
  • Tele converters
  • Tripod (bean bags can be provided)
  • Memory cards and backup storage device
  • Spare batteries and charger
  • Filter kit
  • Cable release
  • Binoculars
  • Laptop – very useful for sharing/showing images if opportunity allows

Please do not hesitate to ask if any of the above items of kit/clothing might be an issue and we will help and advise on alternatives.

For Nikon users kit and or lenses may be available for hire.

Your Accommodation

The first two nights and the last night will be spent at the Sumburgh Hotel, which is convenient for arrival and departure, whether by air or by sea, and for exploring the Shetland mainland. En-suite rooms.

The rest of the holiday will be based at the Baltasound Hotel, Britain’s most Northerly hotel, on the isle of Unst. Baltasound Hotel have recently been awarded a certificate of excellence form Trip Advisor. They offer comfortable well-equipped rooms, and in the restaurant you will be able to enjoy some of the best cuisine Shetland has to offer, which makes full use of the freshest local produce.

Guest Review:

Hello Brydon
I really enjoyed my trip with you and David.
The people skills of the both of you make everybody feel very welcome and that can make or break a trip. There are very few companies that deliver what they promise in their brochures or on their website but you do more than that. Having been on a Shetland trip before showed me how much your company stands out. Never had I thought to see wild otters this close in their environment. It was only possible because of your tracking skills and great knowledge about otters. The choice of taking only two people at a time to minimise disturbance works very well. So while some two people are off to find otters others of the group are photographing birds from a hide near the bathing pool of the arctic skuas. This hide gave good opportunities for getting pictures of all kinds of bathing birds. I also enjoyed Hermaness for photographing sea birds.
The combination of seeing and photographing otters and birds make this trip stand out from other trips offered on Shetland
If at all possible I will be back to Shetland to do another trip with you.
Keep up all the good work
Dick van der Lely

Hi Brydon and Team. Sorry I’m slow replying but 6000 pics takes me a lot of sorting! I’m probably not ruthless enough yet but I’m still trying to discover what I think makes a good pic. Thank you for a great Holiday, which also gave me great opportunities to find, see and photograph various wildlife that I have failed to find for years. I learnt a lot re technique. With the chance to argue out the pros and cons with experienced photographers my pictures clearly improved during the week. A special thank you to Brydon, the Otter-Spotter, for the fantastic opportunities he consistently found for us all. James Hogg

Booking – Holiday Dates

Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to five miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,460
Saturday 17th June to Saturday 24th June, 2017 Sold Out
Saturday 24th June to Saturday 1st July, 2017 Only two spaces left
Please note all holidays commence at 18:00hrs in the evening of the first day and finish after breakfast on the final day when we can arrange and advise transport for onward travel.

Contact Us to Book

Contact us for more information or to enquire about alternative dates for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday.

Telephone: +44 (0)1957 710 000    Email:

  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietry
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. There will require a reasonable level of fitness. We can also provide holidays at a more leisurly pace; please contact us for details

View Terms & Conditions for booking