Would love to know what you think of the cover - we went back and forth on the final choice several times!
This cover photo has certainly been a popular choice. Already I have been approached by RSPB members enquiring into the image, and so as the RSPB's picture researcher I have been in touch with the photographer himself to provide some more background to the image and how he achieved it. This is what he had to say.
"The shot was taken at Titchwell from the footpath looking back towards Thornham on 12-12-2004 using a Canon EOS 20D and a 100-400mm lens.
I had had a very unproductive day, however I had seen the potential for a good sunset landscape image and set up the camera and lens on a tripod in readiness, I shot a couple of test images before referring to the histogram and ensuring that I was exposing to the extreme right as is my usual procedure to this day.
Whilst I was shooting the setting sun the Barn Owl appeared in the field, I waited with baited breath hoping it would fly through the frame, eventually I got 3 images, 2 were soft with the bird looking a bit 'flat' but this one was lit by the reflected sky light from a pool of water as the owl flew across it."
Sometimes when everything comes together you can get a stunning shot like this, that even taken on older digital camera (as the 20D now is) can have the quality shining through with no digital trickery required.
Loved the issue and particularly enjoyed the Malta piece. From what I'm hearing though the Spring magazine sounds even better!
This beautiful scene wouldn't be suitable for the cover of a commercial magazine. The addition of a banner title and all the other stuff needed would have obliterated it. Since you're not in competition with other magazines on the newsagent's shelves I don't think matters very much what type of image you use , but I do think you ought to stick with the birds theme in keeping with your title.
Re the current cover photo: I have long been an admirer of Nigel Blake's work and this image is particularly well done. I use the word "image" rather than photograph because it is clear to even novice photographers that it is a computer compilation of two or more photographs. Photo manipulation is nothing new. The computer has simply replaced the darkroom and made it easier for everyone to produce better images.
Thanks Sue - glad we stuck with it!
The other main contender was a full frame long-eared owl (although we've gone big with that species on page 19). As you say this has the atmosphere.
Would love to hear any other feedback on this cover, or Birds covers in general - big bird or atmospheric shot, familiar species, or something unusual. What about something that isn't a bird?
I think it's stunning, very atmospheric!