Lonely Planet Writer

How one photographer got up close and personal to photograph birds around the world

Breath-taking images of nature’s most beautiful birds from across the world have been released in a new book showcasing one photographer’s finest work.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops) male giving mating gift to female, Hungary.
Hoopoe (Upupa epops) male giving mating gift to female, Hungary. Image by Markus Varesvuo / naturepl.com / mediadrumworld.com

The stunning series includes a pair of male black grouse pitching against each other, a frenzy of gannets squabbling to feed off the Shetland Isles and two Steller’s sea eagles exchanging prey mid-air. Other light-hearted photographs depict a hooded crow attempting to attack a much larger eagle and a robin singing at the top of its lungs whilst perched on a branch. Another remarkable image shows a Great white egret splashing in water with the sun on its back whilst a Great grey owl can be seen spanning its wings in preparation to land.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) singing on branch near a house, Uto, Finland.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) singing on branch near a house, Uto, Finland. Image by Markus Varesvuo / naturepl.com / mediadrumworld.com

The incredible pictures have been revealed in the book, Birds in Pictures by world-renowned wildlife photographer and bestselling author, Markus Varesvuo and is published by Reed New Holland. Markus explained how he first got the idea for the book. “It’s been a long-time dream and aspiration to turn my bird pictures into a flagship book, to give readers pure, unadulterated joy and aesthetic pleasure in the company of the birds that live among us but whom we rarely pay much attention to,” said Markus.

Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) fighting over food with White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) Hokkaido Japan.
Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) fighting over food with White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) Hokkaido Japan. Image by Markus Varesvuo / naturepl.com / mediadrumworld.com

“Birds are amazing, watching them is fun, it takes you outside, where you can enjoy the fresh air, the open sky and make observations. Get reacquainted with the natural world. It’s a dual approach. One, birds are fascinating. They just are. Two, photographing them is an endless challenge, it tickles my competitive bones. It’s a competition against myself, to find a fresh approach, a new mood, capture something that’s not been photographed already a thousand times. I like the thrill of the chase, although I don’t chase after rarities.

Male King eider (Somateria spectabilis) in flight over water, Batsfjord, Norway.
Male King eider (Somateria spectabilis) in flight over water, Batsfjord, Norway. Image by Markus Varesvuo / naturepl.com / mediadrumworld.com

“All birds are nice; it’s more the elements around me that make my heart beat faster. Light is very important; it makes or breaks a picture. I love winter, I love the light on a snowy winter’s day, it’s just about the best this planet offers. Snow, blizzard, dark skies, ice, frost – the frozen world.”

Gannets (Sula bassana) diving into water, hunting for fish, Shetland, UK.
Gannets (Sula bassana) diving into water, hunting for fish, Shetland, UK.

Markus made an initial shortlist of 1400-pictures for the book and detailed the process to narrow these down further with the help of the book’s designer, Andrew Davies. “I made the initial selection, of course, it’s not like I sent the designer one-hundred-thousand-pictures. Instead I pared it down to one-thousand-four-hundred-pictures, the crème de la crème so to speak, and Andrew then made his choices,” added Markus. “We discussed the result and made changes, back and forth. It’s a long process, but necessary. I’m very happy with Andrew’s work. You really need to see the book and hold it in your hands, for the show to really begin.”

Birds in Pictures by Markus Varesvuo is published by Reed New Holland at £30, hardback, and is available from all good bookshops. It is available to pre-order on Amazon ahead of its release in June 2017.

By Media Drum World