Benmore Botanic Garden: Outcome
Having done research on Benmore Botanic Garden I travelled out to the location with high expectations. The weather was good, the location was beautiful, although I did stumble across a few obstacles; I arrived a bit later and felt time was against me and having seen the size of Benmore Botanic Garden it’s a place you require a full day to navigate around. The second problem was perhaps the main problem and that being the absence of insects, this came of quite a surprise to me given the amount of plants, trees and flowers I saw which were beginning to blossom. There was one tree I came across with a lot of bees
swarming around the upper part of the tree, I had waited for considerable time however none would appear in sight. It makes you appreciate what wildlife photographers have to go through to capture shots that they want, a lot of time and patience is required and that was not in my hands, especially in a location with opening and closing times.
Struggling to find insects to capture macro shots I decided to dedicate the remainder of my time to navigate Benmore Botanic Garden for ideal spots to show the habitat where insects may nest and their surroundings. I am disappointed to say I was limited to what I could find, had I more time to navigate more of the location I may have found more. Upon scouting around I did find a pond with a tree which really stood out, it was tricky using the tripod in the uneven surface. I switched to my wide angle Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to capture more in the shot, my idea was to show some of the surroundings in the background but to use the tree to frame the shot showing the pond where insect life may surround it.
Another spot I came across was close to a Red Squirrel hide with a row of tall trees both sides. As the sun was beginning to set, the light breaking through the trees onto the grass really captured my eye. Again using the tripod with my 5D Mark iii and 24-70mm f/2.8 lens I took several different exposures to capture the ideal shot I wanted. Although I initially set out to find ideal backdrops for the insects habitat, this one spot stood out for me for the habitat of the Red Squirrel. The backdrop I captured may go towards as being one of my final 20 images unless I find and shoot something I may prefer for the Red Squirrel habitat.
From the research I had done, Benmore Botanic Garden, although beautiful isn’t quite the same as what I imagined it to be as this time of the year the place isn’t out in full blossom. I should have perhaps researched to find out what time of year is best for finding insects as well, although to get around that problem I have planned a visit to the Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World which has a lot of their natural plant life indoors to make them blend. I plan to capture macro shots of them where the backdrop colours blend as if they’re in their wild habitat. I maybe restricted from using flash however depending whether the indoor place allows flash photography or not.
Here are 3 exposures I shot for the Red Squirrel habitat:
Using the 3 different exposures I was then able to decide in post process which of the 3 was best suited for a possible final landscape image. I then began by opening the camera raw image and made slight adjustments.
After making slight adjustments in Camera Raw I then opened the file in Photoshop, duplicated the background layer and began using the Clone Stamp tool to remove a relatively small and distracting unwanted part of the image on the grass.
Before and After
The next step I implemented a warm photo filter from the adjustment layers in the layers panel to enhance the overall image.
I wanted to add a subtle hint of light rays to give it a little more atmosphere. First I created a round soft spotted scattered brush.
Using the spotted scattered brush I then painted the spotted scattered brush over the picture on a new layer and finally using Filter > Blur > Radial Blur I chose zoom to create the rays of light and reduced opacity of the light rays layer.
Finally to finish off the image I added my own warm tone gradient layer, set the filter to Overlay and Opacity to 10% to add subtle warmth.
Some of the skills used for the first shoot wide angle with extended depth of field, on that particular shoot I was unfortunate not to capture macro shots I mainly planned for.
I was limited in shots I captured for the first shoot, however thought it was worthwhile as it gave me a fair idea of the location if I wish to revisit and with having a possible photograph I may use toward my final set of images.
Here below you will find my contact sheet for the first shoot at Benmore Botanic Garden.
I would definitely say the fourth image from the first four photographs stands out as my favourite and best shot due to the compsition, lighting with the leading trail of trees the captures the eye. The first image with the fountain I do like however felt I could have captured better composition and wasn’t pleased with the limited space and distracting fencing in the backdrop. The second image I liked for the lighting and composition although feel I could have captured more in the image. The third image from the contact sheet I felt it could have been better with lighting and composition.
Another image I captured of the fountain from different angle, again I felt there could’ve been more to the backdrop surroundings and better lighting. The sixth image is one of my favourites for the composition and thought it would be a nice location shot for other insect life. Another image that stood out for lighting and my favourite for composition was the seventh image from the contact sheet, this was something I captured thinking it might even be relative to the type of habitat for wild hares etc. For the final image of my contacts I felt I could have found better although it reminded me of the habitat you find ants nesting.