Tag Archives: scottish wildlife

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 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 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
IMG_0256dows.

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.

CoGC GU2: Scottish Wildlife — Shoot 5 Outcome

G0082141.JPGThe Highland Wildlife Park shoot was something rather quite unexpected, perhaps slightly disappointing, although can understand due to the nature of the animals and
safety of those they take on photographic tours, however for what it was worth I wouldn’t quite value the photographic day tour at £150. As the website described they would get you closer to the animals, however didn’t state how. The biggest disappointment was knowing that the tour guide for the tour was not a photographer therefore had no experience with photography which I found odd, he was a nice enough guy but again if you compare that to the day tour I did with Neil McIntyre there is quite the difference:

  1. IMG_1121.JPGNeil himself has more than 30 years of experience shooting wildlife and was able to pass on his knowledge and experience which I learned from. When doing a photographic day tour of the Highland Wildlife Park with someone who has know knowledge in photography there’s nothing to take from that.
  2. Being out in the wildlife it is more of an experience such as where to stand and how you approach. The Highland Wildlife Park we were given access to certain areas the general public wouldn’t have however still shooting through wired fencing. We were photographing the animals during their feeding time, that was a benefit but I wouldn’t value the tour at that price.

I managed to get some great pictures which I was pleased with such as the wolves eating etc, however a lot of the time we were left photographing either up or down at the animals which I felt wasn’t favourable. If I were to compare how many good images I captured through Neil’s photographic day tour to that of the Highland Wildlife Park there’s a telling G0031027.JPGdifference, then again it was to be expected as it’s a task in itself photographing through fencing and in restricted areas, especially the task avoiding capturing the wired fencing.

When photographing the animals, as expected I was pretty much limited regarding the techniques I could use and wide angle wasn’t ideal, especially when shooting through fencing and surrounding fencing to the back of the wildlife. I managed to capture the odd stunning shot however that made it appear as if I was level with the wildlife, an example being the Musk Ox which I may consider towards my final 20 images. It was difficult photographing much of the other animals due to the angles, but was pleased with shots I captured of the wolves as it appeared as if they’re in their natural habitat in the woodlands. I was disappointed with several images however such as capturing the wildlife with fencing or being slightly off focus such as the tiger and any closeups I did capture I wouldn’t quite place it as my one of my favourites.

For much of what I had captured I could have captured myself going around the park like a normal visitor. Some of the time I had to use a higher ISO for my 1_20A771050-600mm Sigma Sport lens as zoomed into 600mm the widest aperture is f/6.3 and using the faster shutter speed. I am pleased I captured a variety of shots of the different animals to give me options but will limit that as I want my final 20 to show a variety of different techniques and will only include if I feel it stands out.

The photographic day tour started at 8:30am in the morning and lasted throughout the day until 3:30pm in the afternoon. Within that time we were given a certain allocated amount of time photographing the wildlife whilst they were being fed. Thankfully I did take the Sigma Sport lens with me as I was unsure how close I would get to the animals and what I was to expect on the day.

Here is a contact sheet of some of my best shots I captured on the day:ContactSheet-001The first image of the alpha male wolf staring directly at the camera was one of my favoured portrait shots I managed to capture with the hint of the trees surrounding him, this certainly helped make the picture stand out; another shot I was fortunate to capture was one of the wolves eating a carcass showing it’s teeth, not only does it show the character of the wolf but was also pleased with the framing of the shot with the trees to make it appear as if in it’s natural habitat; the third picture was one of my best as I was lucky to capture the wolf eating with the expression on its face looking at the camera. I also captured it framed with the wood across the bottom and the tree, again appearing natural; The fourth image of the Musk Ox looking to play with another was another one of my favoured shots not just for the moment but also managed to capture them framed with raised bit of land to make it appear level with them which appears more natural; for the tiger, although a slight disappointment with it slightly off focus on the eyes but love the composition and finally one my favourite closeup portraits of a monkey with the sharp detail on its face and eyes as it calls out as it knows it’s about to be fed.

Here is a sample contact sheet of images I was disappointed with:ContactSheet-002The first image of the wolf was a disappointment due to capturing the back cross hatched wired fencing, I did try to take out in post processing but the higher ISO grain noise makes that extremely difficult. This would have been one of my best images had the wolf been closer to blur the background out more; the second image was one of my absolute favourites for the way the wolf was walking towards, again it shows the character of the wolf and loved the framing of the shot, however it was a big disappointment with the eyes completely out of focus; for the third image of the Scottish wildcat it chose to eat at the back of the enclosure with the wired fencing and shooting through the fencing was problematic especially shooting down at the Scottish wildcat; another disappointment and example shooting upward was the snow leopard on top of the rocks as you can barely make out the creature; the second shot of the snow leopard eating, again it was one of my favoured shots but disappointment due to the wired fencing you can see slightly blurred across the face of the snow leopard which ruins the overall image and finally although I loved the shot of the tiger walking towards and looking at the lens, the eyes were slightly off focus due to the woods and fencing.

A sample of post process work I did for one of my best images I began by making slight adjustments in Camera Raw, first by reducing shadows to enhance contrast in the shadows and then by increasing sharpness. I also added a slight increase to the clarity:

postprocess1

Using the Smart Sharpen tool from the filter menu I reduced the grain noise in the image as well as enhanced the sharpness by 10 to retain sharp detail on the wolf.

postprocess2

After reducing the grain noise and retaining sharpness in the detail, I used the burn tool at 2% to paint over the midtones and the dodge tool at 1% set to highlights to enhance the overall image.

postprocess3

The final touch I made to the photograph was by adding slight colour desaturation. I began by duplicating the second background layer, then choosing Image > Adjustments > Desaturate from the Image menu. From the layers palette with the 3rd background layer selected I reduced the opacity of the layer from 100% to 20% for a more realistic look.

postprocess4

COGC Graded Unit 2: Isle of May Seabirds Research—Shoot 11

During summer last year as part of summer project work I visited the Scottish Seabird Centre and booked one of the boat tours that lasted 1 hour taking me around 2 of the islands, one of which was the famous Bass Rock off the coast of North Berwick. I know from that experience that there are a lot of seabirds surrounding the rocky cliffs with many in flight. I fully expect the Isle of May trip to be similar as it is in the same region. During my photographic shoot with Neil McIntyre I mentioned to himself about the Seabirds shoot and as he kindly recommended there are private boats that taklanding-on-the-isle-of18-eliseandlife-isleofmaye you from Anstruther to the Isle of May. As he mentioned the Scottish Seabird Centre are very restrictive in limiting access, it is for this reason I decided to book privately for a boat to the Isle of May from Anstruther.

The weather is forecasted to have the sun with clouds which is something I would prefer, especially for capturing some landscape images if I can. I would hope to capture some close images of the birds especially the puffins and there may also be the slight chance of capturing any seals if lucky. For this shoot I would more than love to capture pan shots of the birds using the slow shutter speed technique as I feel this will be my best opportunity. This being due to the fact birds tend to follow a more predictable flight path compared to photographing the likes of squirrels that are sporadic in movement. The ideal shots I would like to capture would show a bit of character and action. It would also be nice to capture a silhouette shot of the birds depending where the sun is situated, shooting into the sun may help for this.

I will be travelling to Anstruther by car and booked the May Princess boat through the
Anstruther Pleasure Cruise which can carry up to 100 passengers. The trip to Isle of May on boat and ashore the Island lasts around 4 and a half to 5 hours. Depending on the weather which should be good it allows a slow tour around the ent2955940_2cf7b453ire Isle which would be the perfect opportunity for using my Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens to capture any sea life on the outskirts of the Island. Given that I will be on the boat I will be sure to wear waterproofs to keep myself dry. Both my 70-200mm and Sigma 150-600mm lenses are ideal not only as they are waterproof but for their own individual use. The 70-200mm lens will be ideal for capturing the pan shots required and for distance subjects using the Sigma 150-600mm lens.

The Isle of May is 5 miles from the Fife coast is open to visitors between the beginning of April until the end of September. The island is meant to have stunning scenery which will be perfect for any landscape images I aim to capture. Theremum-and-pup should be sufficient enough time given there will be an estimated 3 hours on the Island which gives me ample amount of opportunity to photograph what I would like. The Isle of May is home to a wide variety of wildlife with an estimated 250,000 seabirds including; 120,000 Puffins, which between April through to mid August is said to be the best time for capturing these spectacular birds; large groupsof Guillemots, Razorbills and Shags are also available with 150 seals living on the Isle of May all year round. There will also be the slight chance of spotting Dolphins and Porpoise if lucky with the odd spotting of a whale if lucky.

Sources for research can be found here:

http://www.isleofmayferry.com/
https://seabird.org/index.php