Photography Travelogues by Peter Eastway – Antarctica 1/3
August 5, 2011 2 Comments
Winter was holding on tightly in Antarctica, but a slight reprieve in the weather allowed us to venture out from our vessel and explore the snow covered foreshores within Foyn Harbour. The weather varied from heavy cloud to overcast with sporadic spots of sunlight, not ideal, but it hardly dampened my enthusiasm!
The radio cracked into life and our guide responded, turning the zodiac around and speeding off in between icebergs. One of the other zodiacs had found a leopard seal snoozing on an ice floe and we were off to investigate. A hundred or so metres away, our guide cut the engine and we slowly and silently drifted into position. It was a young leopard seal and while fully aware of our presence, was barely interested.
On an Antarctic expedition, everyone is a photographer and all ten of us had our cameras trained on our new friend. The guide moved the zodiac around, providing a variety of angles and giving everyone the opportunity for a clear angle.
Using a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III and a 300mm f2.8 lens, I was able to shoot a series of images from full length to much closer, but there was very little time as you never knew when the leopard seal might decide to leave. Shutter speeds were kept high using 1/3200 second at f3.5 and ISO 100, plus I had image stabilization turned on. The image is sharp!
As the zodiac turned around, I kept my camera focused on the leopard seal, firing quickly. Just when the leopard seal lifted his head, the zodiac turned a little further and one of the guests in front of me obscured my angle. There was hardly any time to notice and I just kept shooting. It was only later when reviewing the images in Capture One that I noticed the best shot of the leopard seal also had the red suit of the guest in the foreground.
However, there was a solution.
Here’s the full frame. You can see the problem easily.
Cropping the image helps by limiting the problem, but it is still there. I have also tweaked the file a little in Capture One, adjusting exposure and brightness, and ramping up the saturation to increase the colour in the background.
The solution can be found by using the Advanced Colour Editor. I chose to add a Local Adjustment layer first and used the Draw Local Adjustment brush to cover up the unwanted red colour in the image.
With the selection made, I used the Pick Colour Correction tool to select the reds and then dragged the Saturation slider back to -100, removing all colour in this area. Since the background is already white, the effect is pretty good and to a casual observer, you’d never know there was a problem.
By selecting other colours, further refinements can be made. In theory, I didn’t need a separate adjustment layer to achieve this result as there are no reds anywhere else in the scene. However, the combination of a local adjustment layer mask and what is effectively ‘colour masking’ can be very powerful.
To complete the image, two more local adjustment layers were added, one to increase the clarity around the leopard seal, and a second to add some highlights to the subject’s eyes.
The image was enlarged and using a small brush, the eyes were masked. Then it was simply a matter of adjusting the exposure and contrast sliders to produce an effect that was natural – well, at least it is natural to my non-technical eyes.
While I might not be able to adjust the light like this for scientific applications or even a book on wildlife, as an improvement for an album or audio visual on my trip to Antarctica, it seems to give the leopard seal a little more zest.
To see more of Peter Eastway’s images on Antarctica, visit his website at http://www.petereastway.com/showpics.taf?portno=57&PortName=ROCKHOPPER%20EXHIBITION