Category Archives: CoGC Workbook

City of Glasgow College workbook for self-initiated graded unit 2 project.

COGC: Scottish Wildlife—Evaluation

My thoughts of my graded unit project is that I was pretty successful for what I captured despite limited time. Wildlife photography is something unpredictable, like the weather it can change quickly, there is no guarantee of capturing what you would like. I set out the task of trying to capture a variety of wildlife to see in Scotland as part of wildlife tourism. I feel strongly for the protection of our wildlife and there has always been that small part of me that looks back thousands of years when Scotland t003hrived with wolves, wild black boar, bears and many other species that were hunted into extinction. Part of me feels wildlife has been severely limited in many ways and therefore with the interest in wildlife tourism it helps capture people’s love and imagination so they themselves become aware of what they have here to see, not just Scotland’s beautiful landscape to help protect what Scotland has.

I was inspired by photographs I saw for sale asprints in places like Edinburgh Zoo’s souvenir shop or from images captured of the wildlife on Visit Scotland’s wildlife tourism pages. You get a sense of the animals in their natural habitat rather than pictures just taken of them held captive in a zoo, the researched images were appealing and that’s what I aimed to achieve through the images I captured that not only gives an image for what Scotland has to offer but tells a story. Many of the animals aren’t native to Scotland so that was also challenging as much of their natural habitat can be somewhat different. The images _20A7511I captured I feel were very successful in this regard, a great example of the wolves I captured with the woodland surrounding them.

There were a few shoots I felt disappointed with, visiting Benmore Botanic Garden I was unsuccessful capturing any insects using macro technique and became increasingly difficult to find, with the restricted time and the one image I had for a red squirrel habitat I felt wasn’t sufficient enough, the perfectly lined trees felt slightly out of place rather than a natural wild forest. I was also disappointed with the shoot at Edinburgh Zoo as shooting at a downward angle wasn’t appealing, some of the animals I would have imagined and liked to have captured weren’t in the right place to capture such as the meerkats closer to the back fencing, or the inactivity of the monkeys I would have liked to have captured. This shows the nature of wildlife photography, there is no guarantee of capturing something appealing.

Benmore Botanic Garden Trees

Row of trees in Benmore Botanic Garden with sun breaking through.

Some places I had originally planned to visit such as Glencoe, I changed plan. Having visited the Cairngorms National Park it changed my perspective. I visited the Cairngorms early April for a one to one photographic day tour with a professional wildlife photographer, Neil McIntyre and having later visited the Cairngorms over the duration of a weekend later that month there were many things I discovered available in the surrounding area which opened up opportunity for capturing great images, therefore decided to stick around that surrounding area. The day tour with Neil McIntyre proved to be my most successful shoot, not only did I learn a good few things from Neil, the experience was worthwhile and thanks to his excellent work I was able to get close to the red squirrels and wild hare in their natural habitat. You learn from Neil that it’s not as straightforward as taking a camera out into the wild and hoping for the best, you get an appreciation that it takes time and hard work for wildlife such as red squirrels to grow accustomed to you. Also _20A6001why spending a dedicated amount of time in the one area can make the difference requiring a great deal of patience.

From previous coursework I have done throughout the year in telling a story, Neil’s work is certainly inspiring in that regard and when it came to showing me how to properly photograph landscape for habitat shots, it became apparent to me the finest smallest details, such as the patterns on a rock face. You can definitely see this in his work from images he has captured himself of empty trees that although no sign of the red squirrels, it tells a story of where to find them, where they live. It also helped greatly as I gained an important understanding of using the sun behind me to wait for it to break out from the clouds to light the foreground, using leading lines to capture stunning landscape images with detail in the sky using the correct exposure.

I felt it greatly benefited me having done the one to one tour with Neil McIntyre, he has a wealth of experience and knowledge in wildlife and landscape photography, he was able to offer me guidance if that’s the field I wish to go towards in my career as well as helped me improve my insight with techniques. A few examples of this was switching from manual mode which I usually use on my camera to aperture priori_20A5972ty with high speed drive mode when photographing the red squirrels. The camera does fantastic work for correcting exposure as the light behind me kept changing from the sun breaking from
clouds. The second example was learning the camouflage technique using the extended depth of field, something I would not have thought of or spotted myself. These small things greatly helped improve my skillset for capturing some fantastic images.

Having revisited the Cairngorms National Park I did a photographic tour of the Highland Wildlife Park which was a slight disappointment photographing through the wired fencing and the tour guide had no knowledge in photography. I wouldn’t say it was worth £150 however did manage to capture a few fantastic images. If comparing that to the photographic tour I did with Neil McIntyre, there is a big difference. Neil as mentioned has a wealth of experience who can tell you where to stand and suggest what is best, this you can benefit from. Some sections of the park you could walk around yourself and _20A7592capture, the only difference with the photographic tour is that they feed the animals giving you the chance to see them closer.

Some images I captured were a slight disappointment such as the noticeable wired fencing in the backdrop when photographing the wolves or even the Scottish wildcat. Another disappointment was shooting down at some of the animals such as the monkey’s which is less desirable. I knew that from what I captured on the tour with Neil, the pictures I captured of the red squirrels and wild hare stood out as my best images. It was then challenging for me to try and capture images that could match that standard, especially in places such as Blair Drummond Safari Park or the Highland Wildlife Park.

Another slight disappointment was a shoot I planned for the Osprey Centre in Boat of Garten, I was limited to what I could capture due to the distance between the Osprey nest and the hide we watched from in the Osprey Centre. Saying that it was a wonderful experience getting to see the nest and the birds in flight and for the limited images I captured they tell a story with the male having flew back to the nest with food and the female taking off with it to eat. It wasn’t until later that I discovered therewas a Rothiemurchus hide for capturing the Osprey diving for fish which gets you close to thestunning birds, however from research on the BBC documentary, ‘Highlands:
Scotland’s Wild Heart, the BBC mentions it took them 5 days just to capture the action Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 20.59.05they wanted, so there is no guarantee. When you look at some of the images other photographers have captured of the Osprey closeup diving for fish it is spectacular and therefore I couldn’t help but feel I could have captured something spectacular, but with costs and time I’m pleased with what I captured given the limited time I have.

I feel that overall from the 11 shoots I done and some of which weren’t as successful as I would have liked, I managed to pull off many fantastic images that illustrates the variety of techniques which fits perfectly with the project requirements. It was a difficult task narrowing down my final best 20 images which was no easy task, especially knowing that I had to swap out many stunning shots in exchange for other shots to show for the variety of technique. Some techniques I struggled with such as the pan shot technique _20A8377using the slower shutter speed. I captured some pin sharp images using this technique, however didn’t feel the images were good enough to be placed among my final 20 images. Another technique that was tricky as I depended upon the sun was the silhouette
technique, I did use Camera Raw to help me achieve my desired result.

The techniques I used to show for variety throughout my final 20 images were:

  • fast shutter speed (red squirrel leaping in mid air).
  • shallow depth of field (wild hare, red squirrel and variety of other images).
  • silhouette (Osprey nest at Loch Insh).
  • extended depth of field (landscape habitat shots).
  • camouflage (wild hare).
  • Shapes (wild hare looking up hill).
  • Composition (framing the wolf).

The weather was sometimes unpredictable and challenging and managed to work around that. I tried to capture as much as I could using the sun for good lighting, I also managed to capture some dramatic skies such as one dramatic landscape shot I captured with the dark clouds, however never included it into the final 20 images. I did mention it would be nice to include a variety and this was perhaps the only thing missed out. Bearing in mind, wildlife photographers capture photographs of the wildlife throughout the different seasons of the year and I was somewhat fortunate enough to have a lot of good weather making the best of the lighting I had. Taking into consideration the time spent and travelling I made best for what was made available to me.

The research work I did towards each individual shoot was pretty straightforward, some of the shoots turned out different than expected and I do feel that for some of the research perhaps deeper research could have led me to something better.

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Illustrated from my workbook, some of the post processing work I did were of images I had not yet completely decided whether or not I was submitting towards the final 20. The editing I feel shows a consistency which I wanted and aimed to keep the images looking as natural as possible with bear minimal editing. Upon attending a one to one with my lecturer I discovered there were several other techniques in post process I could have used that may have helped further enhance my images such as using Camera Raw to lens correct, fixing individual colour luminance and even the use of high pass filter for enhanced sharpening. Some of these were techniques I had forgotten about but I feel with more use and experience it will help me improve in that area. Unfortunately I had already ordered my final 20 prints IMG_1226prior to the one to one meeting as I knew I needed to give the printing business Deadly Digital time to print as they have a heavy workload of other orders to deal with.

After paying for and collecting my final 20 prints I am delighted with the quality of the metallic print and for many of the images you can see the quality most notably from the picture of the lions playing. I was told however that metallic does look similar to lustre however noticing the difference with certain prints. Having looked through the prints all have been printed correctly to the correct given A3 size which I’m delighted with. I was pleased that the pictures turned out bright and clear and none of the prints turned out dark. I feel the format I used having them printed was the right choice, a book format would have been nice but you do commonly find also separate individual prints sold in tourist souvenir shops in the highlands etc for the wildlife. It is also notable that several of the images I showed in post processing I decided not to use due to having to break down not only my best images but what I felt would tell a story as well as show the variety of techniques as mentioned.

CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 11 Outcome

_20A8836My final shoot I planned a visit to the Isle of May through Anstruther on the May Princess cruise. The North Sea was pretty rough at times and was sick 2 or 3 times, bags were handed out to passengers as it’s a common occurrence. This made the trip to and from the island not as pleasurable, however felt completely fine once on the island. Due to the winds and strong waves they cut our visit shorter so had roughly 2 hours on the Isle of May rather than the 3 hours we expected. Things were perhaps more difficult than expected with photographing the birds, I wanted to capture something a bit different from seagulls and due to the size of the island and limited time spent, there wasn’t enough time for me to spend capturing what I would have liked. There were a few surprising things I managed to capture such as a wild hare and fortunate at that time of the year to capture the puffins which I aimed to photograph. We were told strictly to keep to the paths as the wild birds such as the puffins have their holes they live under and for safety and protection of the birds someone could step on one of the holes destroying their habitat. The paths were fairly _MG_2907simple and straight forward to follow around the Island, so managed to find my way back to the boat fine.

As I wandered around the Island I tried to photograph many of the birds in flight, including attempting the pan technique but proved too difficult given how unpredictable their flight path was and often too distant. If I had more time I would have stayed in the one position patiently locked onto the puffins in hope to capture them as the would take flight, however being on a distant part of the island, again limited time restricted myself. I decided to take the opportunity to capture a few portrait shots of the birds such as the puffins just for something extra as the Scottish Seabirds are very popular for wildlife tourism in Scotland and whilst there I captured a landscape shot showing their habitat with a glimpse of the sea to the backdrop.

_20A8745Despite the strong winds the weather was pretty sunny with the clouds and so had good lighting for capturing what I wanted. With the bright sun I was able to capture many images with a lower ISO setting of 100 to reduce brightness from overexposure which was favourable for better quality images. With the increased shutter speed I captured many images such as birds in flight. As many of the birds were perched on the face of the cliffs and on rock formations below, much of what I captured was photographing down at them which I felt was less favourable. Depending on the weather the boat tours around the Island however due to the weather that was something we were restricted from. Despite shooting down at many of the birds I did try to use some framing techniques that created some interesting pictures. The few images I did capture of puffins with the slow shutter speed technique I felt were decent and felt it wasn’t enough to be placed towards my final 20 images. The attempt of the pan shot technique also proved difficult and for the one decent shot I captured it was of a puffin in the sky and didn’t feel it was good enough.

_20A8744As the puffins were situated on the cliff edge it became difficult to photograph them from any other angle and the path leading onward was closer to them and didn’t want to frighten them away, therefore the backdrop I captured of the puffins was the North Sea and tried to use some of the cliff edge they were standing on to frame them. The favourite image I captured shows the wonderful contrast in colours between the puffs and their orange beaks and black and white coats to the brightened North Sea in the backdrop from the sun. In the backdrop a seagull soaring behind in flight blurred out. I couldn’t help but feel however that if given more time I could have captured perhaps maybe even better images although I was pleased with what I managed to capture.

Here is a sample contact sheet of the best images I captured from the shoot:ContactSheet-001The first image I managed to capture a wild hare camouflaged between the rocks on a grassy slope, this turned out to be one of my favourites as it has the viewer searching around for what is there; in the second image I managed to capture the hare running across the top with the North Sea to the backdrop, the sky helping make the wild hare stand out; one of my favourite shots I captured from the boat before entering onto the island was the birds on top of rock face with cliff face further to the backdrop behind them, I was also pleased with the lighting for this shot; one of my favourite shots of the puffins grouped together using the land to frame the puffins with the North sea to the backdrop that makes them stand out at the cliff edge with a seagull blurred soaring in the background; another shot of a puffin in perfect focus staring at the camera with other puffins blurred to the backdrop, for this I liked the composition; the final image was a favoured landscape shot capturing part of the North Sea to the backdrop with the surrounding land showing the seabirds habitat using the rocks in the foreground to enhance the image.

Here is a sample contact sheet for the poor images:ContactSheet-002

The first image shows clear overexposure which I had to correct due to the bright sun by lowering ISO to 100 and increasing shutter speed; the second image was failed attempt at the pan shot technique with the bird flying towards in my direction, plus wasn’t ideal photographing up into the sky, the puffin was blurred out; in the third image I underexposed too much and corrected this by reducing shutter speed and opening up the aperture; the fourth image was slightly over exposed and out of focus; in the fifth image not only did I capture the bird cut off from the picture it became difficult to capture due to the strong winds and weight of the lens; in the final image the slower shutter speed unfortunately captured the puffin with slight motion blur and was unusable.

For post processing I began making slight adjustments in Camera Raw by reducing highlights and shadows slightly to enhance the detail on the puffins. I also slightly increased the clarity and then increased sharpness.

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Using the dodge and burn tools I finished off the image having painted over the image to enhance the lightest and darkest areas of the image with the burn tool set to 2% exposure with Midtones setting and dodge set to 1% exposure with Highlights setting.

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CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 10 Outcome

004As planned I visited Blair Drummond Safari Park on my travel back from the Cairngorms National Park. The weather was a bit unexpected, there was a lot of overclouding and the sun did not appear till late, however perhaps the most difficult task was trying to capture the animals as I felt their enclosures were very small, for much of the animals I felt it would have been pointless photographing for this reason as there wasn’t enough room to capture something that would look natural. For much of the shoot I used my Canon 70D with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L ii lens, this being due to the close proximity for much of the animals. The first section driving through which became a task in itself as shooting through a window the colours do not appear the same. I knew this was something however that I could correct in post process using Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CC.

_MG_2721From the shoot I felt there were at least one or two images that I was fairly pleased with to show for some of the other animals there is to see for wildlife in Scotland, the lions were a favourite. One of the best images I chose from the shoot were two younger lions playing in the grass, as they were closer to the fencing to the back I tried to capture them without the fencing and was quite tricky also considering I was shooting down from the car window. Using the faster shutter speed with a wide open aperture and high speed drive mode, this helped for capturing various images of the young lions playing together. Again, I always try to focus on their eyes as the main focal point although sometimes tricky.

I also spent time at the birds of prey section when they were feeding them and showing the kids the birds in flight, it proved quite tricky though and using the slow shutter speed to try and capture a pan shot proved too difficult with how unpredictable the flight was for the birds. I did manage however to capture a few good shots fro_MG_2834m the fast shutter
speed but I thought I would leave it as I planned to visit the Isle of May for the ScottishSeabirds. There was also a small boat trip in the Blair Drummond Safari Park for photographing Chimpanzee’s which a few of the images I captured turned out to be some of my best shots, especially for capturing them for what looks like their natural habitat.

From that shoot I can’t say I had a great variety to choose from or at least anything new, I already captured shallow depth of field shots, fast shutter speed and closeups so the inclusion of one of the images of the lions was something I came to the final decision on including towards my final 20 images.

Here is a sample contact sheet of the best images from the shoot:ContactSheet-001

The first image I felt I captured well considering the restrictions I had photographing from the car and managed to frame the shot just as the monkey looked up at the camera; Another favourite shot were the group of deer gathered in front of the large tree trunk eating; the other two shots were some of my favourites of the two lions playing; I was pleased with the fast shutter speed shot of the vulture, however failing to capture its full wing span I decided not to use it as I planned for the Scottish Seabird shoot on the Isle of May; the final shot I loved the composition showing the environment with the two chimpanzee’s framed beautifully with the silhouette of the trees to the backdrop, this stood out as a favourite.

Here is a sample contact sheet of the mistakes and bad images:ContactSheet-002

From the first image you can see the haze glaring across the photograph due to shooting through the car window which ruined the shot, plus the road to the backdrop was less favourable; the second image was a shot I captured but was far too underexposed and with the lion being inactive it was less favourable; in the third shot of the 2 lions play fighting I accidentally cut them out struggling to capture them in time without the fencing showing to the backdrop and was off focus; using the slower shutter speed for the fifth shot, the unpredictability of the bird proved too difficult to capture pan shot especially from the angle I was situated, it was overexposed and completely out of focus; in the final shot you can see the cage which I captured by accident.

In Camera Raw I reduced the highlights and shadows to enhance the detail in the image and to improve contrast between the lightest and darkest areas of the photograph. I also increased the clarity and reduced saturation by 10. Finally increasing the sharpness to enhance the detail on the lights and surrounding grass.

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The next step I opened the image in Photoshop CC, duplicated the background layer and painted over the entire image with a large brush using the burn tool set to an exposure of 2% set to midtones range and then painted over the image using the dodge tool set to an exposure of 1% with the range setting set to highlights. Finally reducing the opacity of the layer to 50%.

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The final step I made to my final image I created another duplicate layer, then choosing Image > Adjustments > Desaturate to turn the image black and white, then reducing the opacity of the layer to 10% to give the overall image a slight desaturation.003

CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 9 Outcome

_20A8486As arranged I arrived early afternoon to the Osprey Centre in Boat of Garten. Similar to the dolphin’s you don’t know what to expect and what you will capture, however I was lucky enough that when I arrived the female Osprey was sitting guard in her nest as the male Osprey was off fetching food for the female. Photographing the Osprey was pretty challenging, they are a very protected species by the RSPB which I can understand and therefore limited access from the viewpoint of their nest. The Osprey nest is a good distance from the centre which I can respect and therefore I was limited to the shots I could capture of the Osprey. I also tried to avoid photographing where the camera points down at the nest to appear more natural.

As much as I would have preferred to have captured some stunning closeup shots of the Osprey in action, I did manage to capture the female taking off with her food as the male returned to the nest with the catch which was a special moment. From that the female was spotted off to the distance perched on a dead tree eating the fish, I did manage to
capture a few interesting images from that which could be classified with a camouflage technique. To capture the Osprey in action I used my Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens with my 5D Mark iii set to high speed drive mode and with a faster shutter speed I was required to use a higher ISO number to capture the correct exposure. I did use a narrower Red Squirrel Habitataperture for some images for extended depth of field so my settings varied.

I was severely limited to techniques I could use for photographing the Osprey and their nest and since I already had a silhouette shot of an Osprey nest from Loch Insh I decided to concentrate on a composite image which tells a story. There were telescopes put into position to help spot the Osprey and this helped for direction when looking for the female perched on the dead tree eating her catch. There were several other birds I managed to capture in the surrounding forest area just outside the Osprey centre at the car park and was delighted with some of the pictures I captured. I also managed to capture a landscape image of the forest that really caught my eye with the light breaking through the trees, using the extended depth of field with the narrow aperture, slower shutter speed I managed to capture a stunning landscape which has potential to be used for some of the wildlife I’ve already captured such as the red squirrels etc.

Here is a sample contact sheet of some of the best images from that shoot:ContactSheet-001

The first image was one of my favourites as I managed to capture the female just as she was taking off with the fish which you can see clutched in her claw and was pleased with the composition; the second and third images I used for different perspective both of which have the eyes searching for the female Osprey, the portrait shot I wanted to show more of the landscape leading to where the female Osprey was perched to make the viewer feel closer. For the fourth and fifth picture I was delighted to capture two of the smaller birds on the trees and the lighting captured my eye; the final image showing the landscape shot I captured through a forest with the light breaking through, one of my favourite landscape shots.

Here is a sample contact sheet of some of the bad images:ContactSheet-002

The first image shows the ledge from shooting through the window, the weight of the Sigma 150-600mm lens can sometimes be troublesome holding for a lengthy period of time handheld; the second image I captured the female Osprey flying back to the nest, however it was out of focus and I felt in the third image there was too much over exposure on the leaves from the sun and not as favourable on the angle.

For post processing of my favourite shot I reduced the highlights and shadows, increased clarity and slightly reduced saturation to enhance the atmosphere of the forest, then increased sharpness of the overall image using Camera Raw.

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Using the brush tool I began creating a scattered spotted brush by increasing the scattering and spacing.

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Using the spotted scattered brush tool created, I painted over the image with smaller and larger brush sizes to desired effect with a light coloured brush matching the lightest areas of the photograph. Secondly using Filter > Blur > Radial Blur with zoom setting I created the blur effect with the new layer and finally I reduced the opacity of the rays of light to desired effect for the final image.

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CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 8 Outcome

001As I had booked the Dolphin Spirit Cruise in Inverness I knew that there was no guarantee I would get to see the dolphin’s, although I was expecting there to be other wildlife surrounding the area. As expected and was unfortunate we never got to see the dolphin’s on the cruise, however it was interesting hearing about the surrounding area which gives me enough information about the wildlife surrounding such as a place you can visit for photographing red kites as they are fed every day at 2:30pm. Due to there being no dolphin’s in sight and constantly keeping an eye out on the water I was limited with what else I captured. There were some pictures I captured of the birds surrounding land that I managed to capture, but nothing I would have personally favoured. I was fortunate however to capture a bird flying low across the water at speed using the pan technique which I captured razor sharp, however it’s a consideration as to whether or not I feel it’s good enough to be placed among my final 20 images.Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 16.57.43

The Dolphin Spirit Cruise toured around the Inner Moray Firth and although it can carry up to 70 passengers I was fortunate I had room for myself to capture anything I wanted. The weather turned out fantastic for it with the sun and clear skies. The tour lasted for over an hour which gave me plenty of time to get back to Boat of Garten for the Osprey Centre in the Cairngorms National Park. I was hoping I would find seals however unlucky. From the shoot capturing one pan shot technique it certainly gives me the option to use towards my final 20 images.

Here is a sample contact sheet of the best images from that shoot:ContactSheet-001

The first image was arguably my best shot from that shoot having captured the low flying bird pin sharp with the landscape showing the blurring of the movement; in the second image I liked for landscape and composition whilst capturing some of the birds on land, it also captures some of the surrounding water where the dolphin’s may be and the final image of what looks to be a lone heron at the edge of the water.

Here is a sample contact sheet for the worst images:ContactSheet-002

These were failed attempts using the slower shutter speed as I tried to capture a pan technique, not only were they out of focus but blurred. The third image illustrates not only it being out of focus but did not favour shooting up into the sky. Comparing the pan technique to my favourite image you get some of the backdrop to show for the fast movement of the flying bird, an empty sky doesn’t turn out the same results.

For the best image I made slight adjustments to enhance the image using Camera Raw, first by enhancing the highlights, slightly increasing clarity and then increasing sharpness. Finally for better composition I used the crop tool to get rid of unneeded space and using the shore line to straighten the image.

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After opening the image in Photoshop CC I then used the dodge and burn tools to enhance the lightest and darkest areas of the photograph to give it more punch.

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I then duplicated the background layer and used Image > Adjustments > Desaturate to make the top layer black and white and then reduced the opacity of the desaturated layer to 15% for the final touch.

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CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 7 Outcome

004As planned after doing the reindeer shoot I arrived at the Loch Insh boathouse for the wildlife guided boat tour around Loch Insh. From the research I had done about the boat tour I had imagined that there would have been more to it, however it was slightly disappointing. It did mention about the possibility of spotting Osprey on Loch Insh and from the shoot I managed to get one several pictures of the Osprey nest which I was fairly pleased with. A lot of the birds that were mentioned on the guided tour around the Loch were said to be on the surrounding areas. The boat itself was further out from land and therefore even with using the 150-600mm Sigma Sport lens there wasn’t enough zoom to capture much and for me it wasn’t good enough to place towards anything I would wish.

_20A8280The wildlife boat tour was booked for 4pm and lasted for 1 hour. The area the boat stopped for the Osprey nest was perfect enough to capture several images, although I never spotted the Osprey themselves I felt this was ideal for capturing something environmental slightly different from the normal landscape shot that captures their habitat. The tree itself was dark due to coming from behind which influenced me to capture a silhouette technique as this was something I never had. I took several shots of the tree and nest both landscape and portrait for variation of choice. The hopes were to capture any birds flying past using a pan technique but found it was difficult as the shoot was indoors on the boat shooting through smaller win
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The wildlife tour by boat on Loch Insh cost £7 per adult which I feel for what it was worth, capturing that one image stood out and feel it’s good enough to include for my final 20 images. I did use a faster shutter speed of 1/800 of a second for capturing the exposure darker to help create silhouette, a wide aperture of f/6.3 and ISO setting of 100. There wasn’t too much information about the tour on the flyer in the boathouse from where I originally found out about the boat tour or on the website, but was worth checking out. I suppose it is just your luck whether you find the Osprey or not. There was also a nature walk, however uncertain with how long it is I decided to avoid much of it, for the woodland landscape it wasn’t my favoured choice as I wanted to capture something to relate to the red squirrel habitat. It did mention however that there were red squirrels but I wanted something more eye catching that would help stand out.

Although limited here areis a sample contact sheet of my best images from that shoot:

ContactSheet-001

The first image is a picture I captured of a closeup of the Osprey nest, with the overcast sky I decided to enhance the image to enhance for silhouette; in the second image it was another favoured shot I captured of the Osprey nest only with portrait; another shot I captured of a bird flying past the boat, wasn’t the best of images but limited with this shoot, not something I would favour for final 20 and the final image I captured on part of the nature walk for habitat landscape with as I captured the sun glaring off the water and much of the land where the birds nest.

Here is a sample contact sheet of the bad images and some mistakes made from the shoot:ContactSheet-002

The first image image the birds dipping into the water water not only very quick but too distant and therefore turned out to be a poor image; in the second image the first picture I captured was over exposed and didn’t help shooting through a window at an angle; another attempt you can see the underexposure and the lack of contrast again due to shooting through a window on the boat and the final image attempting the pan shot technique with birds flying past on land, the birds were completely blurred out, plus they were too distant.

The first step to enhancing my favourite image I began by lowering the shadows and greatly increasing highlights to enhance for silhouette and reduced the temperature to add a slight blue tinge to give it more atmosphere; secondly I increased the sharpness of the image using Camera Raw.

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Using the Image > Adjustments > Curves I began by moving the white slider at the bottom in a little to where the detail ends and added a slight S curve to add more punch to the lightest and darkest areas.

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The final slight adjustment I made to the photograph was further enhancing the sharpness by using the Unsharp Mask tool under the Filter > Sharpen menu.

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CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 6 Outcome

As I had visiteDCIM103GOPROG0123909.JPGd the Cairngorm reindeer centre in the past I knew from previous research what to expect. I was well prepared with my waterproof trousers and hiking boots to go up into the hills where the reindeer can be found, as it is the only free ranging reindeer in Scotland they did mention to us that there is no guarantee of seeing them. I travelled by car and arrived just in time for the final tour to view the free ranging reindeer. I was informed previously that the reindeer at this time of the year are shedding their winter coats and this was mentioned on the tour. After paying the admission fee at the reindeer centre it was a drive along to a car parking area where they meet as a group to hike across the hills to the reindeer. The walk was fairly straight forward leading down one hill across a bridge and up another and we were informed about their behaviour for safety precautions.DCIM104GOPROG0134194.JPG

As there was a large enough group of people for viewing the reindeer I tried to capture a mixture of images between the reindeer by themselves as well as with the peo
ple. The weather was very overcast for most of the time spent with the reindeer and it wasn’t particularly easy to capture reindeer with scenic shots, this due to the location photographing the reindeer uphill so tried to capture the reindeer along the hill. You could see for the most part that their antlers were in the early stages of developing. I was pleased to capture one or two images that I was pleased with, but again very limited in technique. I did try a variety between wide angle and closeup shots for a little variety which gives me options if I want to include in my final 20. The large area the reindeer were kept in was fenced off and so I tried shooting in the opposite direction.

DCIM106GOPROG0156055.JPGPhotographing the reindeer was not so much a problem, some were very tame and others distant, we were warned however not to touch their antlers as that can be seen as a challenge to them. For me the experience was worth it, especially learning more about the reindeer as the information you learn of the animals I feel is every bit as important as the photography, this helps you better understand their nature which I feel can help take better pictures. The preferred backdrop I _20A8256would have liked to have captured with the reindeer was facing downhill which proved problematic as photographing the reindeer shooting downhill I feel wouldn’t have looked right. From my experience when shooting level it gives more of a natural feel and that’s what I aimed for.

Overall I was limited with shots I could say I would place up with my best which was a little disappointing, it wasn’t an easy location to shoot in, however I was delighted with a landscape shot I managed to capture for their natural habitat when walking back down from the hills to the river crossing, it was the perfect moment as the sun had just broke through from the clouds behind me which lit the landscape in front of me whilst capturing the dramatic dark skies in front of me, it turned out one of my best photographs which is something I can take from the day to use towards my final 20 images. My hopes for capturing shots using a pan technique I left for the second shoot which was a wildlife boat tour of Loch Insh later that same day.

Here are is a sample contact sheet of the best images I captured:ContactSheet-001I was pleased to capture the first image with a glare of light breaking through onto the reindeer and captured the closeup of the reindeer eating; the second image i favoured of the two reindeer with the landscape behind them; the third image was one of the fewer shots I captured of them grouped without the visitors in the shot with some of the landscape to the backdrop; I liked the 4th image again for the landscape with the reindeer grouped closer and the one standing closest which I liked for portraiture and the reindeer closeup eating with the backdrop; the final image was arguably my favourite shot, although landscape it is fitting for the habitat of much of the wildlife including the reindeer. The sunlight lighting the foreground set off with the dramatic dark skies to the backdrop.

Here is a sample contact sheet of images I did not prefer and mistakes:ContactSheet-002You can see from the first shot someone was standing in the shot and was very difficult to move as I was surrounded by other reindeer and people; second image was the mistake of over exposure which I had to correct for both my cameras; although I liked the stance of the reindeer, I also included this image to show shooting up hill as less desirable, although I liked the landscape; The fourth image shows the difficulty and limitations of capturing the reindeer with people walking around them; in the fifth image with the reindeer facing uphill it wasn’t a favoured shot especially for composition and finally the underexposure of the landscape river, again having to correct the exposure using my wide angle lens.

The post processing work I did for my favourite image from the shoot I began by reducing the highlights slightly using Camera Raw with the slight increase in the shadows to bring back detail from being over and under exposed in certain areas. I also increased the clarity slightly to enhance contrast and finally I increased the sharpness.

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Once opened in Photoshop I duplicated the original background layer then used the burn tool to paint over the entire image with 2% strength set to medium tones and finally using the dodge tool set to highlight tones set to 1% painting over to enhance highlights.

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The final image I wanted remain as natural as possible and therefore didn’t require much editing.