Sometimes I like to revisit old photos. In part because I love looking at them and reliving the memories, but also because it can be fun to re-process them. This is one reason why I use RAW files straight from my camera. The RAW format is basically all the information saved by your camera and I like to use this as my starting point for processing. Others differ in their view on this and that’s ok, each to their own.
So, this is a shot which is about 18 months old now. I had a go at processing it straight away but was never really happy with the result. It just seemed wrong somehow. However when I got home the other evening I found myself wondering about black and white.
I love black and white images, they are that one step further removed from the reality we see everyday. This is Loch Faskally near Pitlochry in Scotland. I had planned a walking, (and photography), holiday for myself and Jake the dog not last summer but the one before. Unfortunately a few weeks before we went I hurt my left knee, making long hikes a bad idea. So the planned places to visit list had to be hastily revised. A walk round this Loch was added and I’m glad it was. Jake of course approved as it involved, running in woods and splashing in water, but then he’s easy to please.
The photo was taken hand held on my old Canon 10D, ISO 200, f 16 for 1/125th sec. My knee ruled out carrying a tripod. To get to this black and white image I took the original file and imported it into Adobe Photoshop CS3. (Yes I know it’s an old piece of software and I have CS5, I’m just more used to CS3). I then converted to black and white. You can do this using the auto feature but I find the images look rather flat that way, so I adjust the different colours manually. I tweaked the brightness and contrast etc and voilà. I like this version much better than the coloured one. Part of me misses the beautiful colours of Scotland but I’m sure I’ll get to see them in other shots. You’ve got to do what is best for each photograph and in this case it was black and white…
I remember a well known wildlife photographer telling me once that the most important part of a wildlife shot is the animals eyes, no exceptions. Without that the shot would be no good. I also remember thinking he was a bit full of himself and flat out wrong. For me it’s important for an image to tell a story, have atmosphere, or draw you in somehow. (To be honest I thought a few words about him that I won’t print here because they are a weeny bit rude as well… hehe)
I’d offer this image up as my justification. The eyes and expression on a face is important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the only thing that can make or break a shot. The shot above is one of my favourites from the last couple of years. It was taken in Scotland at the Highland Wildlife Park on a dreary day. These beautiful Macaque’s had just eaten lunch and then settled down for a cuddle and a nap.
A few minutes later the central Macaque turned towards me and snuggled back into the shoulder of his friend. In this case I think the expression on his face really is crucial. So I guess while it’s good to have ‘rules of thumb’, sometimes it’s still better to break those rules to get what you want… (and raspberry noises at that wildlife photographer)
Today was another in a long line of vets visits. You may remember that Jake the dog busted his leg way back in October. Well it turned out that he had popped his ligaments and snapped off the bottom of his femur.
Now anyone who has had a similar injury will tell you the bone healing is easy compared to the ligaments. The vets wanted to operate and put a metal framework in but I wasn’t keen. I don’t believe in surgery as a first resort. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with surgery the way I know some people are against it….. I just believe that Mother Nature is amazing at repairing things and we often don’t give her the chance.
Of course it’s a lot easier when you’re making the decision for yourself. But in this case, it was for my dog. I basically had three choices :
- Surgery to rebuild the ligaments and put a metal frame on the leg, pins etc….
- Strap up his leg with a splint and see if it heals
- Amputate the bottom of his leg
Not a nice list of options. However I decided to go for option number 2. I had a similar injury many years ago and that was the option I chose for myself, so I felt it was ok to choose this for him.
That’s when the on going visits started. Since the end of October he has been going in to the vets roughly twice a week to have his ‘cast’ changed. This was basically a splint bound onto his leg with lots and lots of bandages. It also had to be kept dry as once wet you couldn’t dry it off. Of course getting Jake to understand this wasn’t easy. So no walkies, especially in the snow. Well, 8 weeks later it was time to see if his leg was able to support him without the splint (I might add that he had broken 3 splints bounding about on it while it was bandaged up).
My heart was in my mouth as we got him down off the table and tentatively allowed him to put his foot down on the floor. Then disaster! He immediately tried to jump up and down, squealed in pain and hopped over to ‘mummy’ and refused to leave my side again.
Hoping it was just the initial shock I brought him home and flopped on the sofa feeling sick to my stomach. However slowly he started using his leg again and now 4 days later he’s happily bounding about on it. Phew! Obviously he’s not out of the wood yet and walkies are a long way off (I know how he runs about)….. but it’s looking like he’ll be able to enjoy a lovely holiday next summer exploring somewhere new….. All of these shots were taken on our trip to Bonny Scotland in August this year. Jake thought it was brilliant……