Shetland’s Simmer Dim Nature Photography

Holiday overview at a glance:

  • Leadership and expertise of multiple guides
  • Designed for just six-eight photographers
  • Group rotations through itinerary- track & photograph Shetland’s otters, two guests each day
  • 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

2020 Dates:

  • Saturday 13th June to Saturday 20th June, 2020
  • Saturday 27th June to Saturday 4th July, 2020

This unrivalled itinerary offers photographers the widest range of opportunities to capture the very best of Shetland throughout the magical Simmer Dim peak of summer; from dedicated otter tracking days, Gannet feeding frenzy boat charter, visiting three National Nature Reserve seabird colonies, purpose built bird hides, landscape opportunities, hands on learning of field craft and photography techniques and much more…

Designed by a native Shetlander with 30 years experience of the islands and their wildlife along with the renowned expertise of Richard Shucksmith, Josh Jaggard our renowned wildlife photography holiday/workshop offers the unique combination of opportunities to learn not only about techniques but also field skills and a sensitive approach towards 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.

An itinerary overview

Through the week we must remain relatively flexible so as we can get the very best out of what elements are over our week. At a glance we will shoot the following locations/species;

  • Sumburgh Head
  • A day trip onto Noss National Nature Reserve
  • Gannet feeding frenzy exclusive boat charter off Noss NNR
  • Each photographer will be paired off in rotations of two’s for dedicated day of otter tracking
  • Hermaness National Nature Reserve
  • The island of Fetlar for Red-necked Phalarope

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 Shetland’s most iconic breeding birds, some of which feature in this itinerary but may vary from season to season. 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 behavioural 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 to work on Otters with us 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, whose images of Shetland’s 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 involve 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. The rest of the holiday will be based at the Saxa Vord resort on the isle of Unst which offers a superb base for logistics and access to our north isles shooting locations.

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: £1,595
2020 Dates
Saturday 13th June to Saturday 20th June, 2020 3 space left
Saturday 27th June to Saturday 4th July, 2020 Available
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

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email:

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
  • 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. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.

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