As 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.
From 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 from 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:
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:
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.