My 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 simple 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.
Despite 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.
As 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:The 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:
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.
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.