Tag Archives: birds of prey

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.


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%.


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.


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


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.