Sunday, 31 July 2016

Isle of May Landing 2016



In 2015 we took our first trip out to the Isle of May and what a wonderful experience that was, to be surrounded by so much life in the North Sea was amazing - CLICK HERE to view the 2015 blog.   The Isle of May is one of two islands we can see from our home in Dunbar, the other being Bass Rock and its colony of Northern Gannets. 

So in 2016 we decided to book another Scottish Seabird Centre boat trip out to the island that is home to over 200,000 seabirds including the Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Tern and many others.  We also chose the right day as we sped across the Firth of Forth in the Seafari RIB towards the island on a flat, calm sea.  The weather was a very balmy 27 degrees Celsius, Summer had definitely arrived in our part of Scotland.



The trip had two purposes.  The primary one was a family day out to the island and the secondary reason was to conduct some tests on the newly launched Fujifilm X-T2.  I posted a test of the Autofocus system on the X-T2 a couple of days ago, capturing Puffins in flight on the island.

This blog is about the three hours we spent on the island in the sunshine, sitting and being part of this wonderful natural spectacle that is literally on our doorstep here in East Lothian.



On the way back to North Berwick we passed under the overhanging cliffs of Bass Rock to admire the Gannet colony on this lump of rock that sticks out of the Firth of Forth.  I have a landing trip booked in two days time and this will be my 5th attempt in 2016.  So fingers crossed that it will be 5th time lucky.





Also on the way back our guide James had the pleasure of releasing a Puffling off the coast of the Isle of May, the first he had ringed and released on the island. The reason the Puffling was released off shore was to make sure it was well away from the gulls that prey on small Puffins.

The trip was once again a wonderful day out and this is something we plan on doing once a year while we are living in Dunbar.  For more information on the Scottish Seabird Centre visit www.seabird.org

All of the images were shot on a Fujifilm X-T2 with a  XF100-400mm + 1.4x converter or a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with either a XF10-24mm f4 or XF16-55mm f2.8 lens.










































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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE



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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Walking Across to Cramond Island


Yesterday we took a trip along the coast to Cramond for a picnic and a bit of family time.  We had our picnic and, because we arrived at low tide, we were able to walk along the causeway out to Cramond Island.  

I took along the X-T2 and the 16-55mm f2.8 to get some pictures while we were out on the island.

Cramond Island is a tidal about one mile (1.6 km) out to sea, which is connected to the mainland at low tide across the Drum Sands. A paved path, exposed at low water, allows easy access. This causeway runs at the foot of a row of concrete pylons on one side of the causeway, which were constructed as a submarine defines boom during World War II and are one of the most striking sights in the area. At high tide the path is covered by several feet of seawater which cuts the island off from the mainland.

At the outbreak of World War II, Cramond Island, along with other islands in the Forth, was fortified to protect the coasts in the event of enemy warships entering the channel. A number of these buildings remain and can be explored.

As rain clouds were coming up from the south I decided to set the X-T2 to record images in both RAW and in ACROS film simulation to give a moody black and white feel to the images.

For more information on Cramond Island CLICK HERE








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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE



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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Capturing Puffins in Flight with the Fujifilm X-T2



Since the launch of the Fujifilm X-T2 I have been asked many times how good the Auto Focus system is compared to the X-T1 and X-Pro2 and also compared to a pro level Nikon or Canon DSLR.  

The question regarding the X-T1 and X-Pro2 is easy to answer because it is a huge step up from the X-T1 and a definite improvement on the X-Pro2s excellent AF system which I have used for shooting motorsport and international rugby.  

Now the second question regarding the comparison between the X-T2 and pro level DSLR is harder to answer because I haven't used a DSLR since I sold my Nikon gear in 2014.  The X-T2 is definitely on a par with the D800 / D700 / D300S I used but how it compares to a Nikon D5 or D500 or Canon 1DX MkII or 5D MkIII is difficult for me to answer.  

All I can say for definite is that the AF-C tracking on the X-T2 allows me to take shots of moving subjects with ease and the images are crisp and sharp, and that is all that really matters.  

So the X-T2 can track a moving race car and produce a sequence of images all sharp and technically perfect.  This is great news but race cars are predictable and fairly large objects to lock on to.  The only downside to a race car is they are shiny and sometimes in bright sunlight the AF can lose the lock, but this has only happened on one occasion in the last three months, which is a better hit rate than I had with my D700 / D300S.




So I decided that I needed to test the new continuous AF on something a little less predictable and a lot smaller in size.  I booked an Isle of May landing trip through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, with a view of trying to capture Puffins in flight. 

The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) is quite small, 30cm / 12 inches in length, but is very quick.  To compound the difficulty in trying to capture the birds in flight is the fact they fly quite low to the ground to evade predators such as the Black Backed Gulls.

Using the XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 lens with the 1.4x converter I set myself the task of capturing these beautiful birds in flight.  Shooting images of the birds on the ground is easy, there are thousands of them all over the island and everywhere you look there are Puffins.  Capturing images of them flying is a totally different challenge and one, that I am pleased to report, the X-T2 rose to admirably.


Using the X-T2s AF-C custom settings I selected Set 5 to start with.  This is set for Erratically Moving and Accelerating / Decelerating subjects, which describes Puffins in flight pretty well.  I had the camera set for Zone AF, with a 9 box square selected set to one side of the other of the viewfinder depending on where the Puffins were flying in from.  

The AF system coped very well and the shots I missed were more down to user error - trying to keep the bird inside the AF Zone in the viewfinder rather than anything the camera had done wrong. 


I then moved to a different part of the island where there were more birds flying around.  This added the complication for the AF system where birds were flying across the frame between me and the subject bird.  So I switch the AF-C Custom function to Set 2, which is 'Ignore Obstacles & Continue to Track Subject'.  This solved that particular problem and now the camera would track a bird in flight and not be distracted by other birds flying into the frame. 


The camera's drive was set to CH and with the 'Boost' function switched on to increase the AF response time, but I selected 8fps rather than 11fps.  The reason I did this was to save me time sifting through even more images in post production and also I tend to allow the camera to track the bird and then I would fire 2-4 frames as it reached the right point.  I did shoot some sequences at 11fps but only when I needed to.  I have the front function button set to select easily between 8 and 11 or 14 fps if using the electronic shutter.

I could've switched the camera to 11fps all the time and shot thousands of frames but I don't like shooting that way.  I used to shoot film and I still work on the fact that frames cost money.  Well not money now because digital shooting is free but now frames cost time! (which as a professional photographer is pretty much the same thing.)

The results on this page speak for themselves.  Capturing Atlantic Puffins in flight in not an easy task for any photographer or camera but the Fujifilm X-T2 is certainly capable of doing the job with relative ease.  

I have a final attempt to land on Bass Rock next Tuesday after four abortive attempts in the past three months.  Weather and sea state permitting I look forward to giving the X-T2 another test on capturing Northern Gannets in flight on Bass Rock.











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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'