Sally Anderson Photography: Blog en-us (C) Sally Anderson Photography [email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Mon, 12 Feb 2024 18:48:00 GMT Mon, 12 Feb 2024 18:48:00 GMT Sally Anderson Photography: Blog 87 120 Lions in the Kalahari & the Pandemic All photos in this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without license or permission


The Kalahari lion is a sub-species of lion. Kalahari lions look different and behave differently to other lions in Africa as a result of their adaptation to desert conditions. They are bigger, live in smaller groups and have larger territories. Males have black manes.

An adult male Kalihari lion    A female Kalihari lion

Male and female Kalahari lions

In 2020, a female lion gave birth to three cubs – two females and one male – by a waterhole near one of the visitor camps in the desert. The camp closed during lockdown and remained empty until Spring 2022. In the meantime, the cubs grew considerably, with the juvenile females almost the size of their mother by October 2022. The juvenile male sported the beginnings of a mane. He is likely to be booted out of the pride soon, while the juvenile females are nearing the time that they will look for mates. When they, in turn, give birth to cubs, the pride will grow.

Juvenile male lion, his two female siblings and mother lion at the waterhole

The lion pride (l to r): juvenile male, two juvenile females and mother lion

The mother lion taught the cubs not to be afraid of humans in the camp. When it reopened earlier this year, the youngsters, especially the females, were naturally curious about the goings on in the camp and often prowled around the buildings. In the heat of the day, the lions sought refuge by lying underneath the guest lodges. Wire put around the bottom of the lodges solved this problem, but the lions simply took to the using the shade between the lodges.


It is not uncommon for safari visitors to come across a lion on occasion. On a bush walk with a guide, an encounter with a lion as well as other wildlife, is almost inevitable. However, the difference for this lion pride is that they have adopted the camp as their territory and humans are the interlopers, having been away for almost all of the lives of the juvenile lions.


As we were about to sit down to breakfast early one morning, the two juvenile females climbed onto the open walkway joining the main area with the small swimming pool. They walked among the deck chairs and regarded us as we stepped further back into the dimness under the covered area. Luckily, they did not seem keen to continue into the covered main area and climbed back down to the ground to skirt around it, peering in as they surveyed us. Then they came back onto the open walkway that joins the main area to the lodges, turning once again to look at us.

Curious juvenile female lion on the walkway Curious juvenile female lion peering into the main area

A juvenile female lion on the walkway at breakfast time; the juvenile female peering into the covered main area

Juvenile female & male lions at the walkway

Juvenile female and male lions at the walkway at breakfast time peering at the visitors

Upon leaving one of the guest lodges one morning, my step-daughter and grandson turned the corner from their deck to find one of the juvenile females loping towards them on the walkway, baring its teeth. Following the guidance given, they retreated quickly to their lodge, pulling shut the netted sliding door. The lion prowled around the deck on the other side of the netting for a while before losing interest. For much of the time during our stay, guides transported us between the main area and our lodges by bush vehicle, that being the only safe way to move about. You can be a few feet away from a lion, or any other wild animal, in a vehicle as long as you don’t stand up or make loud noises. The animal sees only the large shape of the vehicle and completely ignores it as being of no interest as either prey or predator.

Female lion ignorng a bush vehicle

A female lion eating a zebra ignoring nearby vehicle

The waterhole near the camp is frequented by numerous other animals, including a variety of antelope (wildebeest, impala, kudu etc), zebra, jackals, birds and warthogs. On one occasion a large male lion visited, causing the lion pride to disappear, returning only after he had moved on. It was only a matter of time before the abundance of prey gave the pride its opportunity…

A herd of zebra at the waterhole

A herd of zebra at the waterhole just before the kill

I saw the female lions running. Unfortunately, I was at my guest lodge just at the wrong time as the chase began. Everyone else saw the mother, one female and the male (rather desultorily) chasing a herd of zebra, their chosen target being on the verge of getting away when the second juvenile female ran in from the flank, causing the zebra to stumble into a tree. Once on the ground, the mother lion clamped her jaws around the zebra’s neck. My step-daughter and grandson had the best view of this while they were in the swimming pool about 100m away (sipping wine and diet coke as you do). One of the guides drove round in a vehicle, and nine of us (including the pool visitors in their dressing gowns) clambered in so that we could get close to the kill.

The adult female lion seizes the zebra by the tree which it ran into

It took around 15-20 minutes for the mother lion to suffocate and break the zebra’s neck. The zebra struggled every now and again, but eventually succumbed and we heard its death rattle. Meanwhile one of the juvenile females was tearing into the zebra’s stomach. She very carefully dissected the vibrantly coloured stomach out of the cavity, discarding it for the jackals and vultures to sniff around later. All of us were fascinated but had mixed emotions about the inevitability of nature and sadness at seeing such a beautiful animal die.


The adult female lion suffocates the zebra, watched and helped by one of her daughters

The zebra struggles in vain; finally the zebra is dead

The lion pride and its kill

The lions took it in turns to fill their bellies, putting their heads into the two cavities they had torn in the zebra’s body. The rest of the pride rested by the waterhole, drinking copiously. As each youngster came over after their turn at eating, they greeted their mother and licked each others’ faces, now covered in blood. It was as if they were saying “Thanks Mum”.

One of the juvenile female lions dissects the stomach

Juvenile and adult female lions drinking at the waterhole after the kill; juvenile male lion has had his fill

Mother lion licks the juvenile male's bloody face

One of the juvenile females is sated

Mother lion licks her daughter's face; it's a tiring business being a lion (juvenile male yawning)



Juvenile female goes back for a second feed; two cavities in the zebra's body

It wasn’t long before huge numbers of vultures and jackals were roaming around the carcass, waiting to seize a moment when the lions weren’t defending their prey. As we drove past on our way to a sleepout that night, there must have been 20 or more shadowy jackal outlines as close as they dared to get.

Jackals wait for their chance; vultures descend on the waterhole

By the next morning the zebra was more than half eaten, mostly just skin, legs and ribs left. As we watched a lion feed, we could see its head moving around under the zebra’s skin cleaning up the last meat between skin and ribs. When we returned later that day, the carcass had been picked clean.


A female lion picks at the carcass the next day

Nothing left 24 hours later

Given the number of kills lions and other big cats must make to survive, it’s apparently surprisingly rare to witness a kill. It’s more common to see lions either eating a dead animal or lying beside their kill with full bellies, unable to move. Having adopted the camp as their home, it is likely that this kill may be the first of more that will be witnessed. It comes with the added uneasiness of lions and humans living in very close proximity.






[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Africa animals coronavirus desert Kalahari lion lions lockdown pandemic photography wildlife Sun, 30 Oct 2022 14:20:44 GMT
Photo Editing  

This blog is a starting point for helping you to decide whether you should edit your photos, and if so, there is advice about software you might want to use. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive review about different programs, about which there are numerous online reviews and videos. I discuss the programs I use and why I find them useful. Check out my other blogs for more detail about Luminar AI and the Topaz Suite

There are referral links (some with a discount) for some of the programs at the end of the blog. Use them if you wish.

Why do you take photos?

This is the first thing to consider. If you take photos only to use on social media, you don’t need any specialist photo editing software. There are plenty of free apps such as Snapseed or the basic phone or tablet photo editing tools that brighten or straighten images if needed. You can do a lot more with these too, such as adding contrast and saturation to make them ‘pop’ a bit more. Go easy on these controls though or photos can look unnatural. These adjustments do a very good job for small low resolution images for social media and you need look no further.

If you want to improve your photographic techniques, enter competitions or print images then you’ll want your images to look as good as they can. And if this is the case, then you probably want to set your camera to take raw images which allows for much greater processing or editing than you can do with jpegs.

Raw versus jpeg

Industry standard jpegs can be read by all software. Jpegs are processed images using algorithms set by the camera manufacturer and are compressed files so that a significant amount of data is lost which can never be recovered. For the vast majority of uses, jpegs are fine, and can still be tweaked to some extent in editing software.

Raw files are so named because they are minimally processed and not ready to be printed or displayed without further editing. Unlike jpegs, there is no single raw file format. Different camera manufacturers (and even different cameras from the same manufacturer) produce different raw file types (eg .RAW .RAW2; Canon uses .crw .cr2 and .cr3; Nikon uses .nef .nrw; Olympus uses .orf and so on). Raw files preserve the information captured at the time of exposure, but not all cameras can generate a raw file.

Camera settings menu for raw and jpeg

Taking raw photos means that there is an extra processing step and therefore it’s only required when photographers intend to make their own edits. Raw files have numerous advantages over jpegs, including producing higher quality and higher resolution images, being able to adjust the colours much more (such as altering the white balance) and being able to make marked adjustments, such as increasing exposure without reducing quality. Additionally, edits are non-destructive: the original data is retained even after editing, so a raw file can be repeatedly edited in different ways to produce different final versions. Raw images are a starting point for your creative edits, and therefore generally look flat and dull until they are edited. Once edits are made, images are exported from a software program as jpegs.


     Example of RAW image and processed jpeg

Some cameras can take RAW and jpegs at the same time. My opinion is that unless you have a specific need for jpegs (eg to immediately upload to social media) then it just confuses things to have two versions of the same image and it also takes up more storage space on your camera's media card. Needless to say, raw images take more space than jpegs (2-6 times more), so make sure you have a card with enough memory (or spares) for the likely number of photos you will take. So, if you plan to do creative edits on your images and want to be in total control of what your image looks like, always use raw. Otherwise take jpegs to save storage space on memory cards and avoid the editing process.

RAW editors

App photo editors cannot match what you can do with a Windows or Mac raw editor program; a lot will depend on how much editing you want to do and whether you are willing to pay for a software program. There is a wide range of raw editors which do similar things and have similar adjustment controls. I imagine that if you were to ask 10 different people what editing program they like best, you might get 10 different answers. You’ll need to decide what will suit you best (see Points to consider below). 

Some of the raw editor program names you’ll come across include:

Luminar AI, Aurora HDR, Adobe Lightroom, ACDSee Photo Studio, PhotoDirector Ultra, Capture One, ON1, Gimp, DXO PhotoLab, Paintshop Pro, Aftershop Pro, Darktable, RAW Power, RawTherapee, Affinity Photos, Photopea, Polarr, InPixio, Pixlr, Photoscape X etc etc.

As you can see there are many options. Some of these programs are free, and many of the paid for programs offer free trials so it’s a good idea to try them out before buying.

There are many online reviews comparing different programmes. Here are two articles as a good starting point:

Another free program not mentioned in either article is Faststone Image Viewer (, a good basic free easy-to-use editor.

These programs allow you to make adjustment edits to exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights and shadows (the brighter and darker parts of the image), cropping and straightening and most will do much more such as altering the white balance (how warm or cool a photo looks), healing spots or marks, sharpening and so on.

Points to consider:

  1. Most programs work on Windows or Mac, but not all, so check this first.
  2. Check whether a raw editor will work with the kind of raw files that your camera produces.
  3. Many of the programs can be used either as a stand-alone editor or as a 'plug-in' for other programs. Using one of these programs as 'plugin' means you can do some basic editing in Lightroom, for example, then export an image to Luminar AI (for example) and save back to Lightroom. If you use Lightroom as your catalogue of photos (more on this later), this is the way you’ll want to do it.

There are other types of editing software designed for particular editing functions, such as the Topaz suite which includes Topaz AI (for sharpening), Topaz DeNoise (to reduce noise) and Topaz Gigapixel (upsizes images). These can also be used as stand-alone editors or as plug-ins to other raw editing programs.

What I use

My main photo editor is Adobe Lightroom, which is one of the most common programs used by professional photographers. I use Adobe Photoshop when an image needs a particular editing function that cannot be done, or cannot be done as easily, in Lightroom. I use Luminar AI as a plug-in for Lightroom or Photoshop for some photos to further enhance them, to replace a sky or to create particular artistic effects. (Note: you can also do this in Photoshop but I find Luminar AI much easier to use). I use Topaz AI and Topaz DeNoise when a particular image needs to be sharpened or to reduce noise. Most of the time I only use Lightroom. Occasionally I might use Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar AI as well as Topaz. Quite often, I use Lightroom and one of the other programs. It very much depends on the particular image and what kind of edits I want to make.

Exporting a photo from Adobe Lightroom to another editing program as a 'plugin'


Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

A common question for photographers is whether they use Lightroom or Photoshop. I think most photographers use both, but there are some who only use one. Photoshop has been around for decades, so those who were brought up on it tend to prefer it as their basic editing software, whereas Lightroom was born relatively recently in 2006, designed specifically for photographers.

They serve different purposes, though they can also do many of the same things. They both require perseverance to learn how to use them, though I think it’s fair to say that Photoshop is much more difficult to learn because it can do more complex things. There are hundreds of online tutorials and most of what I have learned has been by watching online videos.

Adobe Lightroom: Viewing one image in a folder

When I first started using Lightroom, it was possible to buy the programme outright, with free updates until a major overhaul might require an upgrade. Like many software programs, Adobe has switched to a subscription only model, so you get both Lightroom and Photoshop for the monthly cost (usually) of £9.99. I resisted switching for a while but the extra features, increased speed and the lack of updates to the previous version made me decide to take out a subscription. However, the annual cost for two incredibly powerful programs for anyone who regularly takes photographs and wants to produce high quality images is, in my view justified. There are often Black Friday or Amazon Prime deals as well, for which you pay an annual upfront, often significantly reduced, price. Even if you think you may never use one of the programs, it’s still a relatively good deal.

Adobe Lightroom: the catalog is in the left panel with a hierarchy of folders; metadata is within the right panels

This screenshot shows thumbnails of images in one folder

The main difference between the two is that Lightroom is both a raw editor as well as a database, while Photoshop is only an editor. Lightroom creates a catalog (US spelling) that identifies the location of each photo on your computer. When you ‘import’ a photo to Lightroom, you are not moving the photo into Lightroom but simply telling the program where the photo is stored on your computer. Each photo has a .xmp file attached that stores the edits you’ve made. The catalog stores all of this information separately to your photos. Typically, photos are stored on an external hard drive (or it could be on your computer’s internal hard drive if you don’t have too many photos) but the catalog can be stored elsewhere. One of the most common mistakes made as a beginner user is to move photos around on your computer and then find that Lightroom doesn’t know where they are. Any moving around should always be done inside Lightroom. Once you get used to this, there are multiple ways to organise your photos in ‘Collections’ and ‘Smart Collections’ (defined by particular criteria) without having to create multiple copies of images in different folders that use up storage space.

You can create keywords for images and there are sophisticated ways to search for both keywords and metadata (eg camera specific information). Once you have several thousand images, this becomes extremely useful.

Adobe Lightroom: editable columns at the top allow you to search using multiple metadata

Lightroom has features to automate and speed up the workflow for processing images. You can create presets to import from SD cards of different cameras, to rename images, to apply metadata (eg copyright) and to apply quick developing edits. You can easily synchronise edits to a selection of similar photos.

Lightroom displays every editing step in a panel list. If you click on the first one, you go back to the original raw image, and you can scroll back up and click to see the effect of any later step. After exporting an image in jpeg form, to print, upload to a website or send in an email, there is no need to keep the jpegs because you can always go back to the edits at any stage that you’ve made. Unlike Lightroom, if you make edits in Photoshop, you need to save a .psd file so that all of the adjustments are saved, otherwise you cannot go back to your edits.

(Note: In Lightroom be careful, because if you go back to a previous edit and then continue with further new edits, of course you’ll lose later steps in the first set of edits.)

Adobe Lightroom: Editing a photo in the Develop Module; the left panel lists all edits; you can go back to a previous step by clicking on it. The right panel contains editing function sections and easy-to-use sliders

A photographer can manage almost all edits that might be needed just using Lightroom. What Lightroom cannot do at all, which Photoshop can, is to create a composite from more than one photo (ie taking bits from different photos and blend to create a single combined image). Lightroom can create a composite of several photos displayed within a grid, however (example below). Both Lightroom and Photoshop can create panoramas from images stitched together and can also combine images with different exposures (exposure bracketing) into a HDR (high dynamic range) image. However, unlike Photoshop, Lightroom cannot stack images together which have different focal points (focus stacking). Lightroom can remove objects from an image as long as they are not too complex (I have spent many happy minutes cloning out electric wires and poles), but Photoshop can select, remove and alter complex objects with relative ease using its AI tools. So, there are some very good reasons why a photographer might wish to use both.

A composite photo created in Adobe Lightroom



This is an example of a photo for which I used four programmes, each for a specific reason:

 Programme:     Lightroom -------- Photoshop ----------------- Luminar AI ----------------------- Topaz AI

   Reason:           for basic edits     to increase edges            for further processing                   to sharpen

(At each stage, the image was saved back in Lightroom)

   Pic 1: Initial edits in Adobe Lightroom; wings too close to edge  Pic 2: Increased top and right edges of photo in Photoshop

When I import raw files from my camera to Lightroom, my import preset renames each image, applies copyright metadata and some basic editing including removing chromatic aberration and enabling a lens profile correction .  Once I had cropped any distracting things out of the photo, the flying pigeon was very close to the top right edges of the image (Pic 1). I used Photoshop to add more space at the top and right edges (Pic 2)*.

* Very easy to do but it doesn’t work for all backgrounds; best for those that are fuzzy or blurry, or skies. Crop tool (C)>click content aware>drag the edges as needed and wait to see the magic happen.


Pic 3: Further enhancement using Luminar AI

Pic 4: Sharpening of main pigeon in Topaz AI

I used a template in Luminar AI to add some pop and edited it a little (Pic 3). I then used Topaz AI with a mask on the central pigeon to sharpen it** (Pic 4).

** Click on mask and then Find Objects. It does a pretty good job of selecting people or, in this case, birds. However, it selected all of the birds so I erased the mask on all but the one central bird before choosing the best sharpening option (see my separate blog about Topaz AI).


Referral Links

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

You can get both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop via a 'Creative Cloud Photography Plan' with my referral link:

Adobe CC


Luminar AI


For a more in-depth look at Luminar AI read my blog here: Luminar AI

Try a 7 day free trial of Luminar AI with this referral link:

Luminar AI referral link

Topaz suite

For a more in-depth blog about Topaz programs read my blog here: Topaz Suite

You can buy each program in the Topaz suite individually or as a bundle. You can get a free trial, but you will not be able to save an image without their watermark using the free trial version. There is an April 2023 offer for Topaz AI suite.

Referral link is

Topaz Suite referral link



[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) editing photos Lightroom Luminar AI photo photo editing photography photos Photoshop raw editors Topaz Sat, 17 Jul 2021 17:48:01 GMT
Luminar AI  

Luminar AI is incredibly easy to use. I don’t use it to edit all of my images, but many landscapes or photos taken on a dull day do benefit from it. It is also very easy to replace a sky which you might want to do if an image has a dull flat sky. You can also easily create artistic effects with overlays and textures. You can do all of these things in Photoshop too, but the intuitive and easy-to-use interface of Luminar AI makes it much simpler if you aren’t familiar with Photoshop.

I always use Luminar AI as a plug-in for Lightroom, but if you don’t have Lightroom you can use it as a normal image editor. I import photos into Lightroom from my camera with an automatic preset which renames files, adds my copyright and applies some basic edits to save a lot of time. I always work further on each one, but if I think a photo might be a candidate for Luminar AI, I use the export option ‘with Lightroom adjustments'.

Exporting from Lightroom to Luminar AI as a plugin by creating a .tiff copy of an image

The beauty of Luminar AI is its templates. The purchased version comes with a good range of templates. You can buy more template packs and there are often discount deals, as well as occasional free offers. However, I suggest starting with the basic ones. Luminar AI (as it says on the tin) analyses your photo and suggests which templates might work best. Or you can choose which one to apply. This is speeded up if you ‘favourite’ the ones you like so you can then simply click on favourites and choose one. A preview of the effect is shown. You can tone a template down by dragging the overall adjustment at the bottom of the screen. Or you can adjust the edits applied by the template individually by clicking on the Edit module (top of screen). A dot next to each adjustment shows you which ones have been used in the template which you can adjust.


(L) Luminar AI suggests templates that may be appropriate for the photo. (R) My list of favourite templates is on the right panel - just click on each one to see what it does.

There are masks in most of the adjustments which allow you to apply an effect to targeted area(s) of the image. Luminar AI has intelligent targeted adjustments such as ‘sky enhancer’ and ‘foliage enhancer’ which automatically target the sky or foliage with very good results.

Note: some of the templates are over the top in my opinion, but obviously it depends on the look you want)


(L) Image processed in Lightroom                                (R) Enhanced with one click in Luminar AI


Sky replacement

The program comes with a set of skies included but I think it’s better to use your own sky images, otherwise you risk a sky being recognisable as a Luminar sky. Keep a folder on your computer of your own cropped skies which you can add to custom skies in Luminar AI. Get into the habit of taking photos just of nice skies when you see them! It’s easy to try each one out to see what works best. Here is an example - nothing wrong with the sky in the original image of course - just to show some examples.

The original image (above) before replacing the sky with my own skies (below)

Note that the landscape is subtly relit to fit with the colours in the sky

I think it’s also the only programme that intelligently relights the scene according to the sky chosen and will create a reflection of the sky colours in water in the image. 

Original image with blue tones

Same image with sky replaced and pink/orange tones reflected in the water automatically

You can adjust the sky in a number of ways, horizontal and vertical shifts, sharpness, blending with the horizon etc. Luminar AI does a great job of blending the sky with any objects that intrude into the sky area. Here are a couple examples of Edinburgh skylines:

(L) Original                                                                              (R) Sky replaced


Original image

Effect of replacing sky in Luminar AI: slider for 'Close Gaps' needed to be increased for all cranes to be retained


Textures and Effects

Similarly, with a click you can alter the ‘look’ of an image using LUTs (Lookup Tables – which are a kind of colour filter similar to presets in Lightroom) as well as texture overlays. There are LUTS included with the program. Here is an example of a portrait before and after adding a slight sepia tone plus wrinkled texture overlay with the opacity increased to create a more subtle effect (but, using an inverse mask, texture was not added to the face). I wouldn’t necessarily want to do this to the photo, but it illustrates the kind of artistic effects that can easily be created. You can, of course, also use presets in Lightroom to alter colour tones, but wouldn't be able to apply a texture overlay. There are also different blending modes which are fun to experiment with. These work similarly to those in Photoshop

(L) Original image (R) LUT and texture overlay applied (not to face)

Another example, below, of applying a LUT and texture to an image


                                                    (L) Original image                     (R) LUT and texture overlay applied

Luminar AI is a program that you can use simply or technically. It is a one-off purchase for use on two computers with the option to buy extra add-ons, including templates, LUTs and textures. There are sometimes giveaways if you sign up to their online conferences or forum discussions.


You can try Luminar AI with a free 7 day trial . My referral link:

(Note: Luminar AI is not an upgrade of a previous version of the program called Luminar 4. It is an entirely new program)





[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) editing image Luminar photo photography photos software Sat, 17 Jul 2021 17:47:52 GMT
Topaz Suite The Topaz suite consists of Topaz AI (a sharpening program), Topaz DeNoise (a noise reduction program) and Topaz Gigapixel (an upsizing program). Each is dedicated to performing one particular editing function.

Lightroom does a decent job of reducing noise, as do other programmes. However, the consequence of reducing noise is the loss of sharpness, creating a ‘soft’ image. Sharpness and noise go hand-in-hand. Increased sharpness results in more noise and decreased noise results in reduced sharpness. Topaz AI increases sharpness and also reduces noise, and Topaz DeNoise reduces noise and also increases sharpness. There might be an argument therefore for only buying one of these programmes, but as they work in slightly different ways, focussed primarily on one function, I prefer to have both. They are bought with a one-off purchase price rather than a subscription and there are often discounts to be had, or you can save by buying 'bundles'.

Comparison view of original image zoomed at 100% and three possible sharpening adjustments

Topaz AI and DeNoise work intelligently and the auto functions usually do a great job without having to do anything manually. When using as a plugin for Lightroom, for example, the best option is to edit a copy of an image in .tiff format.

Topaz AI
Topaz AI has several sharpening settings, including ‘out of focus’ ‘motion blur’ or ‘soft image’. The auto function decides which one is best for a particular image. You can also combine these effects with three other settings of ‘normal’ ‘noisy’ and ‘very blurry’. So far I have found that either the 'motion blur' or 'out of focus' options with the normal setting gives the best results,

A comparison view of an original image zoomed at 100% and three possible sharpening adjustments

A split slider view of the effect of Topaz AI to sharpen the flower

It is even is possible to 'rescue' very blurry images which you might otherwise delete. Here is an example:

I find it best to first look at the comparison view of all three adjustments and choose the one that looks best. It's useful then to look at the image in one of the other view formats such as the side-by-side comparison of the original and the edit as in the screenshot above, or a very useful split slider view.

Topaz Denoise

Topaz DeNoise is great for removing noise from images either taken in low light or with a high ISO without resulting in blurring, and i find that this is a big improvement on what can be achieved with the noise reduction slider in Lightroom. It has three settings: ‘standard’ ‘clear’ ‘lowlight’ and ‘severe noise’. So far for me, the standard setting always seems to work best. Even images taken with a relatively low ISO can be improved, but again, this will depend on how much time you are willing to spend editing images and whether the differences are important for your purpose.

Original image taken at ISO 1600; a noticeable difference is apparent with the 'Standard" option on the right of the split screen in Topaz DeNoise without resulting in blurring

Original image taken at ISO 2500 t; a noticeable difference is apparent with the 'Standard" option on the right of the split screen in Topaz DeNoise without resulting in blurring

I have found Topaz particularly useful for wildlife images, or images taken in low light. Of course, it all depends on what level of detail you aspire to in your images, and sometimes the difference will only be visible with a trained eye or when zooming in. The example below illustrates the differences between an original image taken at ISO 3200 which is not very sharp to begin with; noise reduction applied in Lightroom and Topaz DeNoise applied (you may have to zoom in depending on the size of your screen).

Image taken with ISO 3200 original image - noise very visible 


Noise reduction in Topaz DeNoise with sharper details

Topaz DeNoise comparison view of original image

Topaz Gigapixel, which I have not used, might be useful when a photo is significantly cropped and the image needs to be bigger, for example to print. Wildlife photographers might have the most use for this when a photo needs to be cropped significantly to zoom in on an animal.

(Note: I have seen reviews that say Photoshop can upsize well for 2-3x increases, but that Topaz is the winner for any increases beyond this which can apparently be up to 6x)


These programs are easy to use, but they can also be used in a more targeted way with masks. If a photo has a very short depth of field, for example an animal with a blurry background, then you’ll only want to sharpen the animal and not the blurry background. You can create a mask of the particular area of the image that you want to affect, like the adjustment tools in Lightroom and Photoshop. The programs auto-detect certain objects in the image such as people, animals, birds and then you can refine the edges of the mask if needed.

                        Mask applied to the deer only for sharpening                                                  Mask applied to the bird only for sharpening

If you think you’d like to give a Topaz program a try, use the link below. They offer a free trial period, but you cannot save an image using the free trial without a watermark. You can purchase the programs separately or as a bundle.


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[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) photo editing photography photos Topaz AI Topaz DeNoise Topaz Suite Sat, 17 Jul 2021 17:47:43 GMT
PAGB Newsletter: Lockdown Photography I was asked to write a short article by the PAGB (Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) summarising my lockdown photography and blogs. The article appeared on September 15th 2020 in e-news issue 266 pages 12-13, which you can read here






[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Coronavirus Covid19 Covid-19 East Lothian lockdown pandemic photography rural community Scotland Thu, 24 Sep 2020 14:19:13 GMT
Lockdown Blog #5: Lockdown and Lockdown Easing

Scottish Government travel advice pandemic slogans on the A1

We are now several months into ‘lockdown easing’*. However, new restrictions are beginning to come into force and who knows what things will be like in another few months. It seems an appropriate time to write what I think will be – though these are uncertain times - my last Lockdown Blog.


Empty supermarket shelves before lockdown

Lockdown happened suddenly but even before March 23rd people had started to behave differently and ‘social distancing’ was already a new phrase. Panic buying in the weeks leading up to lockdown led to empty supermarket shelves.


Unusual empty streets in Edinburgh: The Royal Mile on March 23rd 2020

The only event in the 2020 Science Festival: an outdoor photography exhibition on Portobello promenade;

The festival staff practise social distancing

Whenever I went out on essential journeys or local walks, I took my camera with me to photograph changes to the environment. Shopfronts with closed notices; barriers at beach carparks; empty streets and train station carparks; closed playgrounds; mothballed Fred Olsen cruise ships in the Firth of Forth; seafront benches moved to discourage people from sitting in them; painted stones with messages of hope; police beach patrols; socially distanced queues at the supermarket or a bank. And lots and lots of Covid-related signs, rainbows in windows as well as pavement and cycle lane widening measures. All these became the ‘new normal’.


Socially distanced queues at the bank and supermarket


Empty streets in Haddington, normally a bustling market town


East Lothian's popular beach carparks closed to encourage people to stay at home


A chemist remains open with a warning notice but a bakery is closed


Lothian buses mothballed; out-of-service Fred Olsen cruise ships anchored in the Firth of Forth


An empty station carpark at Longniddry; benches moved from North Berwick harbour to discourage people sitting


Closed cafes


Scottish Seabird Centre closed; Coronavirus countryside rules


A playground out-of-bounds for children; Glen Golf Club in North Berwick closed


Nobody around to enjoy North Berwick-in-Bloom's flowers; Aberlady nature reserve Covid-19 measures

Due to my husband undergoing medical treatment, we had frequent hospital appointments in Edinburgh during lockdown. So, I made the most of the time I had to wait (I was not allowed to accompany him) by taking Covid-19 photos around the hospital.


Coronavirus warning notice and testing centre at the Western General Hospital

New cycle lane created on route to the hospital

My route to the nearest town takes me over the A1 and it was fascinating to see how the Scottish Government’s travel advice pandemic slogans changed over the months. From ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ to “Stay Safe, Protect Others, Save Lives’ to ‘Plan Ahead, Stay Safe, Save Lives’ and finally ‘Local Travel Restrictions, Stay Safe’ as areas in the North of England went back into lockdown.

Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows


Aberlady Church with a Covid-19 funeral notice; hand painted stones with messages of hope and thanks line Port Seton promenade

As businesses and organisations began to open up again, it provided opportunities to document how new measures were put in place as well as the opening days at various sites.


Police patrols in North Berwick

Covid testing station in Cockenzie

I have photographed the re-opening of a bowling club, a golf course, historic castles, coastal walking routes, local shops and takeaways as well as the first pubs to open, a walled garden, a sports centre and a Farmer’s market. A neighbour’s children started their first day of High School and they were kind to let me take photos of them setting off for school. As people started to go out more and the new rules about wearing face masks came into force, there were new perspectives of people going about their everyday activities.


Takeaways reopen with Covid-safe measures: Alandas ice cream and Drift cafe in North Berwick


Haddington begins to open up again


North Berwick opens up: The popular Lobster Shack with a social distancing queuing system & increasing pedestrian space in the narrow High Street


Kilspindie Golf Course reopens: club captain, Dr Mitchell and Do Not Sit Here benches


Greenkeeper prepares for reopening of Haddington Bowling Club; mother and daughter meet for the first time since lockdown


Greggs and The Cheese Lady - the smallest shop in Haddington - reopen 


The 'new normal' in Princes Street, Edinburgh


One way systems in place at Gullane beach and Yellowcraigs

I was pleased to witness kite surfers returning to the Firth of Forth for the first time on a beautiful but very windy sunny day, as well as the first outing of both East Lothian Yacht Club’s sailing dinghies and North Berwick coastal rowing club’s Covid-safe St Ayle’s skiff.

Kite surfers return to the Firth of Forth


First outings for East Lothian Yacht Club and North Berwick Coastal Rowing Club

Amisfield Walled garden reopens a few days a week with a booking system in place

The first day back at school; also the first day of High School for twins Louisa & Imogen

First day for visitors to Historic Scotland's castles: Tantallon Castle & Dirleton Castle.

Andrew Spratt aka Man at Arms welcomes the first visitors


Fringe by the Sea in photographs only this year; The Morrison family enjoy the first day at the Museum of Flight after lockdown


The first Farmer's Market in Haddington after lockdown


A protest about theatres remaining closed at the Lyceum in Edinburgh; James demonstrates 2m rule on first day pubs are open in Leith

It felt like I had taken more photos than I normally would; however my computer tells me that I have taken approximately 3,300 fewer. Covering events and Edinburgh festivals and travel around the world in normal times clearly makes a big difference to these statistics.


Enjoy Leisure staff clean between pool sessions on first day of North Berwick sports centre reopening;

that's known as a 'fogger' or 'mister' apparently

*There are many new phrases that govern our lives now that didn’t exist before the pandemic eg lockdown and lockdown easing, Covid-safe, social distancing, the Rule of Six.


[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) closed businesses closures Coronavirus Covid19 East Lothian Edinburgh lockdown lockdown easing pandemic reopening Scotland social distancing Sun, 13 Sep 2020 18:30:25 GMT
Lockdown Blog #4: Lockdown Food

Even before lockdown on March 23rd in the UK, the supermarket shelves were emptying. It was reminiscent of my first supermarket trip after being snowed in for 4 days during the Beast from the East in 2018 – when almost all of the aisles in the local Tesco were empty. This time, toilet rolls, tinned goods, pasta, flour and eggs were impossible to find.


Empty vegetable crates and empty tinned goods aisle in Asda

However, our experience of lockdown has been very positive as far as food is concerned.  Because the catering industry closed down, its usual suppliers needed alternative sources of income and turned to home deliveries.  Many local food and drink businesses which were closed down also created a home delivery system. Local agricultural suppliers did the same and, since East Lothian is the ‘Food and Drink County,’ there is no shortage of produce. Our local vegetable suppliers have included The Mart in East Linton, East Coast Organics and George Anderson in Tranent, but we also indulged in an occasional delivery from Valvona & Crolla in Edinburgh.

My attempt at a Covid-19 related food rainbow

So, we have benefitted by being able to obtain high quality local produce. Meat from John Gilmour butchers in Tranent normally destined for fine dining restaurants in Edinburgh; vegetables grown locally which taste far better than the supermarket variety; flour from Mungoswells malt milling; Ballencrieff sausages; gin from North Berwick distillery; dairy produce from Yester Farm Dairies; artisan cheeses from The Cheese Lady in Haddington.


Yester Farm Dairies makes its first home delivery; Svetlana Kukharchuck, affineur, aka The Cheese Lady

We also discovered The Veg Shed vending machines in Athelstaneford - albeit late on during lockdown - a fantastic source for potatoes, free range eggs and other veg. It is hardly surprising that I have put on a few Coronavirus pounds despite daily exercise.

The Veg Shed, Athelstaneford Mains Farm

Tony’s Roaming Chippy parked up in a number of East Lothian villages once a fortnight serving delicious pre-ordered fish & chips and we have been regular customers during lockdown. The highlight, however, was a home delivered fine dining three course dinner from Wedgwood on the Royal Mile to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, with sirloin steaks the star of the meal.


Tony's Roaming Chippy van in Athelstaneford Village

Here are some of our deliveries and meals created during lockdown. My husband is the cook and I take no credit for the food, only the photographs. We have been happy to support local business and hope that many of the businesses mentioned here will continue to make home deliveries despite lockdown easing.

A 'two-person' meat pack from J Gilmour butchers; a vegetable delivery 

One of our deliveries from The Cheese Lady; another fresh vegetable delivery


A North Berwick gin delivery


More fresh vegetables and more cheese :)

Recipes from 'Roasting Tin Around the World by Rukmini Iyer': highly recommended


Another recipe from the book: crabmeat mixed with cream cheese and spices on puff pastry with a tomato salsa; a fresh salad



Brunch courtesy of John Gilmour and the Veg Shed for the eggs


[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) East Lothian food food suppliers home deliveries local produce Lockdown Scotland Thu, 23 Jul 2020 10:40:09 GMT
Lockdown Blog #3: Lockdown in Camptoun Camptoun in LockdownCamptoun in LockdownLockdown Portraits

As lockdown in Scotland enters Phase 3 with things returning to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be, it is timely to write my next blog about the community I live in and show some of the portraits I have taken to document how people here have managed during what must be the strangest period for all of us.

Lorna and one of her three horses, Colin. They have provided me with photo opportunities when out in the fields

I live in a rural East Lothian community. It is not a village and has no centre like most villages in the county, having grown from small holdings and converted farm steading buildings. It is spread out across fields. The numbering of the properties drives anyone trying to find a particular house mad, since no 7 of the holdings is nowhere near no 8. No 1 is about as far from no 2 as can be. The numbering of the steading sends frustrated Amazon delivery drivers circling round and round, lost in the maze.


Toby lets off steam outdoors playing hopscotch; Alice with her rainbow drawing

We moved here from Edinburgh 10 years ago. Having lived in cities all of my life it was a major change of lifestyle. However, despite knowing my nearest neighbours, I rarely came across others within the area. At the beginning of lockdown, a WhatsApp group was started and it has been a major benefit to us all, allowing us to share information and resources.

Lisa relaxes in the garden she and her husband created during lockdown

The range of things that have been lent, shared or swapped is just amazing. Many seeds and plants, from courgette seeds to broccoli plants. Those with bigger vegetable patches planted more in order to provide a source for others. Some of us who have never grown vegetables before are trying it out as a result. With only a gravel courtyard, I now have two kalibos cabbages that are growing rapidly in pots. We enjoyed some pak choi grown by a neighbour with a SE Asian dinner my husband cooked.

Thomas is growing gooseberries; Georgie and Charlie help out in the polytunnel growing vegetables

An order for a 12.5kg bag of local Maris Piper potatoes was shared with others. Orders for bedding plants, compost and other gardening and DIY supplies such as plywood, were also shared. It was easy to leave things outside another’s house to be collected. Someone else has always had whatever anyone needed including baking paper, yeast, superglue, a jelly mould, paint, paving slabs, and ground coriander. I needed some sealant for a leaky window and was unable to source it online, but after a message to the group I immediately had several offers. Someone else wanted some glass to build a cold frame and I just happened to have some panes taken out of shed windows.

Charlie & Georgie say 'Thank you' to keyworkers along with their Labrador, Mara

Warnings about ticks, plant infestations and rats were sent via WhatsApp. The rat problem appears to be a specific lockdown phenomenon with our Factor reporting a rise in issues across the properties they look after. Noone had ever seen a rat here before but there were numerous sightings over several weeks until we were able to close off one particular run under houses that they were using. Did they come from Haddington since there wasn’t enough for them to eat from closed food businesses there? Who knows, but thankfully they seem to have moved on.

Alice carrying out a tallying task set by her teacher counting the different kinds of vehicles that pass through our community

Advice about how to fix a fridge or water supply came in very useful for others. Fraser, furloughed, started painting areas around his house after moving in just before lockdown. He clearly had too much time on his hands as he continued to paint all of the communal walls around the steading, which was a huge improvement and they now shine bright in the sunshine.

Camptoun in LockdownCamptoun in Lockdown

Fraser - master painter; Charlie, Shane & Georgie are competing with each other to grow the best potato plant

One neighbour cut his hand while slicing food; another neighbour is a nurse and was able to offer advice about whether it needed stitching. It did and he was sent off to A & E.

Lisa, a nurse, came to the rescue when a neighbour cut his hand

There are a number of children in the community. A family with an orchard laid out an Easter egg hunt amongst the trees and invited other families to ‘book’ a 20 minute slot to find them. Home schooling has, of course, been their experience, interspersed with time to let off steam on scooters, bikes and trampolines outdoors.

Home schooling for Imogen, Eva & Louisa; trampoline acrobatics

Alice & Toby playing outdoors in a cardboard playhouse overlooking the Firth of Forth

Initially lots of information about local businesses that started home deliveries came in very useful for items that were almost impossible to find elsewhere, such as eggs. The first day that Yester Farm Dairies offered a delivery, there were many takers here. Takeaway food has also provided a break for those who cook, with pizza deliveries and a mobile fish and chip van in the next village in Athelstaneford once a fortnight.


Yester Farm Dairies makes its first home deliveries; Jean is delighted with her delivery of milk, cheese, eggs and yoghurt

When the ‘Beast from the East’ blew in, we were snowbound for 4 days. I saw more of my neighbours in those few days than I would normally have in a few weeks. Likewise, lockdown has had the positive effect of creating much more of a community feel in a location where there isn’t any physical community hub. We have also found out much more about each other’s hidden talents. Two of my neighbours, I discovered, are artists in their spare time. One family has taken up beekeeping. Another spins wool from a neighbour's sheep and makes her own jumpers. Several are keen musicians. Few of my neighbours probably knew that I had changed career a number of years ago to being a photographer.


Charlie & Shane in beekeeping outfits; Jancis spins her own wool from a neighbour's sheep


Alan plays the mandolin and misses sessions with his band 'The Tone Poets'; Ava & Harley played 'Over the Rainbow' during lockdown

Another couple, one of whom celebrated his 80th birthday in lockdown, put on a fireworks display for the rest of us, which just happened to coincide with one of the most beautiful fiery sunsets we have seen this year.

East LothianEast LothianCamptoun overlooks the Firth of Forth and offers a good view at sunset with a fiery orange sky and the twin peaks of the Lomond Hills in Fife in the distance

Camptoun looks out over the Firth of Forth towards the twin peaks of the Lomond Hills in Fife

I cannot finish before mentioning one more person who, although he does not live here, is here almost every day and feels like part of our community: our Royal Mail keyworker hero, Johnston Craig. He not only brings our vital post and deliveries, but also good cheer. And he has become a more well-known local figure after taking photos of the rainbow drawings on his rounds that appeared in the local press as well as compiling a video diary for BBC Scotland’s Landward TV programme.

Camptoun in Lockdown - our PostieJOhnston Craig

Johnstone Craig, our Royal Mail postie

We all recognise that we are very lucky to live here - and the restrictions of lockdown have been much less for us since we have easy access to the outdoors than others. And, of course, East Lothian is a wonderful place to live, anyway.


The photographer and one of my other interests during lockdown



[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Covid-19 East Lothian lockdown lockdown portraits pandemic rural community Scotland Sun, 12 Jul 2020 16:23:08 GMT
Lockdown Blog #2: The Changing Landscape in Lockdown Scotland followed the rest of the UK into lockdown on March 23rd 2020. The weather then was still very cold and Spring was yet to arrive. As I write this in Summer, we have gone through three seasons during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We wondered if there were more gulls around during ploughing and planting given the increased lack of food in coastal towns

One of the benefits of lockdown is the opportunity to pay a lot more attention to to the changing landscape as the seasons unfold and the landscape alters from brown ploughed fields to green crops. As we go out for our daily walks, the subtle changes to the landscape are much more noticeable: the growth of a crop in a field; the beginnings of buds; or the colours of the hedges and trees.


I had never noticed the unusual purple buds on an ash tree before they start to flower

A crab apple tree in full Spring bloocm


From bare branches to leaf cover

We live in a largely arable area of the country in East Lothian. In past years the local farmers have sown and harvested a variety of grain and vegetable crops. We noticed that the variety this year appears to be much more limited – grain and potatoes mostly.  We suspect that the type of crops planted have been determined by which can be harvested mechanically with as little human intervention as possible given the potential lack of immigrant farmworkers.

From brown ploughed fields with seed potatoes being planted to green crops

Usually, a solitary farm tractor weaves its way criss-crossing a field. Occasionally, several farmworkers team up for planting. It reminded us that the lot of a farmer can be a very lonely one out in the fields all day alone.

During the first weeks of May the weather warmed up and the countryside burst into yellow hues with oilseed rape fields and gorse bushes in full bloom.

Mothballed Fred Olsen cruise ships in the Firth of Forth framed by gorse

As Summer approached, the lack of rain over a number of weeks made the fields very dry and the little rain we did have quickly soaked away into the ground.  Huge wheels with watering cables started to appear around the fields.


The highlights of rural rambles have been horses: playful horses enjoying the warmer Spring weather, riders out for exercise and a newborn foal.

A neighbour's horses enjoying the Spring sunshine

Riders in front of Ballencrieff House

A newborn foal sticks close to its mother

I was hoping for an explosion of poppies like a field I found last year, but so far there has only been a scattering of them around the crop fields. I have paid more attention to flowers on walks that I don't recognise and online research usually reveals what they are. 

These pretty purple flowers are purple or blue tansy or lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)

These colourful orange flowers are called fox and cubs

but also known as devil's paintbrush, grim-the-collier or orange hawk bit (Pilosella aurantiaca)


But I did find some poppies, too

Despite lockdown easing, we are not likely to venture far this year. We certainly won't be going on holiday anywhere this year or next - for a couple who travel a lot to far flung places, this is a big change for us. Soon the landscape will change again as the crops are harvested and Autumn approaches. 

Coming next....Lockdown Portraits




[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) changing landscape countryside Covid19 crops farming landscape lockdown pandemic plants seasons trees Fri, 26 Jun 2020 15:35:12 GMT
Lockdown Blog #1: Wildlife in Lockdown Scotland followed the rest of the UK into lockdown on March 23rd 2020. The weather then was still very cold and Spring was yet to arrive. As I write this in June, Summer is here, but Scotland remains in a more restricted lockdown than England.

Ploughed field early on in lockdown

Luckily, we live in a rural and agricultural area. Without the freedom to take walks around East Lothian’s many beauty spots as we usually do, we have got to know the countryside on our doorstep much better. We’ve discovered that we can create circular walks around field edges. It has given us the opportunity to pay a lot more attention to the changing landscape as the seasons unfold and the landscape alters from brown ploughed fields to green crops. And I have been surprised just how much there is to photograph. Here is a selection of my encounters with the local wildlife in lockdown.


Swan Family

The highlight has been watching the unfolding story of a pair of mute swans we found in a small reservoir (that we didn’t even know about before lockdown). The female swan was nesting when we first saw them, and soon revealed that she had 4 or 5 eggs. We discovered later that there were six eggs.

Female mute swan nesting

The local farmer feeds them daily, as she has done for several years and knows them well and assured us that the cygnets would hatch around May 14th. As it turned out they appeared on May 18th, a miserable day when I had to stay in the house all day for work over the telephone, and so I missed the cygnets introduction to the water, which my husband witnessed. One rolled down from the nest, one fell in upside down (righted by its mother) and another slid down. But only 4 eggs had hatched. We visited every day for a while, but it became clear that the other 2 eggs were not going to hatch and eventually they disappeared one by one.

Four cygnets hatch but two eggs remain unhatched

On one visit the male was nowhere to be seen, but on another visit we discovered him walking around in the nearby wheat field, so presumed he must have been hiding there. 

The swans share the reservoir with a coot pair and their strange looking chicks, as well as some mallard ducks and duckling and an occasional visit by a grey heron.

A grey heron and a strange-looking coot chick

Swan family update: Some 4 or 5 weeks after they hatched the swans lost one of the cygnets. From a total of six eggs, three cygnets appear to be thriving and growing rapidly, looking more and more like small swans. When the cygnets were about 8 weeks old, the male swan disappeared. He sometimes flies off for a day or two, but after more than a week missing, we have to conclude that, sadly, he is no longer alive leaving Mum to bring up the cygnets by herself.

The cygnets have learned to swim keeping one webbed foot out of the water

By 11 weeks old, the cygnets are beginning to lose their down

Blue tit fledgling

A shorter story took place in our garden. I was reading the morning papers when I heard a thump as a bird crashed into one of the windows. This happens fairly regularly. I noticed a very small - possibly dazed - blue tit fledgling on the step by the door. A bit later on I noticed it was nestled in a flowerpot. It called out constantly and looked skyward for attention. I took some photos and left it alone.

Later on when I went into the garden I could hear it chirping but couldn't see it. We found it in the shed perched on a bicycle pedal. Its parent wasn't going to find it there so I picked it up. It settled on my arm for a bit then few off into another flowerpot. It seemed only able to fly a few feet and certainly not upwards. Eventually its parent found it and spent the rest of the day feeding it, returning regularly. We put a bird feeder nearby with seeds. Although the fledgling was only a few feet away, it relied on its parent to fetch the seeds and put them in its beak. Click on the image below to see an animation of the blue tit parent feeding its young.

Blue tit fledglingBlue tit fledgling

As dusk approached I spotted a rat scuttling around the garden, probably attracted by the bird food. It ran past the startled fledgling and off into the neighbour's garden. In ten years we have never had a problem with rats, but they have become a problem during lockdown: and there are reports that they are becoming more of a pest in the country due to the lack of available food in towns. Unfortunately, the fledgling was nowhere to be seen the next morning.

Other birds, like this starling pair who nested under the pantiles of our roof, may have been more fortunate


Mrs Mallard

We accidentally stumbled upon a mallard nest. A plank across a ditch is on one of our routes, and every time we walked past, a female mallard flew up, startled from her nest. It took a while to spot the nest, as it was so well hidden in the bank of the ditch.


As the weeks went on she was less keen to fly from the nest and simply eyed us until we left. We hoped to spot the ducklings hatching but one day the nest was empty and they were nowhere to be seen. 


We have a local male pheasant who was christened Bertie by one of our neighbours. Actually, it’s probably Bertie's grandson or great-great-grandson by now, but you can hear him squawking regularly around the local area. He is much harder to spot but I think this might be him.

Is this Bertie?

Nearby there are several pheasant hatcheries and I finally managed to get a photo of a female pheasant.

A female pheasant hiding in the undergrowth

Deer & Hares

These are much harder to photograph as they are usually far away and scatter quickly on any approach. They were common sightings early in lockdown, but are a rarer sight more recently. Perhaps they are simply harder to spot as the crop fields grow taller.


As the weather warmed up, butterflies were soon a common sight unless it was very windy. I got up to a tally of 8 types, but the most common in Spring/early Summer were the peacock and small tortoiseshell and the meadow brown and ringlet in full Summer.

A small tortoiseshell and a cabbage white butterfly

A speckled wood butterfly and a large white butterfly


A peacock butterfly and a meadow brown butterfly


A ringlet and a green-veined butterfly

Mason Bees

We noticed a lot of bees buzzing around the stonework of our house, looking for chinks, so my husband bought a bee hotel. Mason bees are better pollinators than other kinds of bees and are to be encouraged. They don't make holes but look for suitable holes for nesting sites.

Female mason bees laying eggs and plugging their nests with mud

We initially placed the hotel on the ground but they couldn't seem to find it. After moving a log and placing the hotel a few feet above the ground, they almost immediately started to book rooms and within about half an hour all rooms in the hotel were all taken. 

Each day more holes have been filled and plugged. The female mason bees start by depositing pollen for food, lay female eggs, partition with mud and keep going until the hole is filled, ending with male eggs. This means that the male bees hatch first and are ready and waiting when the females appear, and so the cycle begins all over again.


Sorry, I haven't got any photos of badgers, but we have found dozens of setts all over the local area. Unless I get up very early or go out late with my camera I am unlikely to manage to photograph one.


Coming up next....The Changing Landscape during Lockdown & Lockdown Portraits








[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Coronavirus Covid19 lockdown nature pandemic wildlife Mon, 08 Jun 2020 19:06:22 GMT
Mallow Bashing on Lamb Island  

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330716A kayak on Lamb Island

One of the best things about being a photographer is the chance to do things and go places that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to experience. Photographing well-known authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, dress rehearsals of a show or opera, politicians or previews of events, are just some of these.

SallyAndersonG717November2019P1820788Cutting tree mallow

However, one of the best days I have had was a recent trip to Lamb Island in the Firth of Forth. Lamb Island is owned by Uri Geller, of spoon-bending fame. It is relatively inaccessible as there is nowhere safe to land a small boat. It is one of three islands just off the coast of North Berwick where puffins make their burrows (they also breed on the Isle of May off the coast of Fife in the North Sea). The Lamb, as it is often called, is also within the compass of the Scottish Seabird Centre’s SOS Puffin project, led by retired conservationist John Hunt. For 13 years, volunteers have been making trips to Fidra and Craigleith Islands to cut down tree mallow, a non-native plant that can grow to several metres high and makes it impossible for puffins to access or create their burrows.
SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330480A puffin burrow on Lamb Island with Craigleith Island and the Bass Rock in the distance I have been part of the project for several years, cutting tree mallow on Fidra and Craigleith. The plant was introduced to the Bass Rock in the 17th century by soldiers garrisoned there who used it for medicinal purposes as a compress for wounds, from where it spread to the other islands in the Firth of Forth. The SOS Puffin trips take place in early Spring and late Summer/Autumn before and after the puffins arrive for their breeding season.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330253Preparing the kayaks in North Berwick

For a number of years, Lothian Sea Kayak Club have also been making Winter trips to Lamb Island, taking shears and loppers (as well as copious amounts of cake to sustain them) to rid the island of tree mallow. Unfortunately, the seeds can stay in the soil for years and so the plants keep regrowing, although there is evidence that the project is gradually having an impact on the abundance of the plant. I contacted the leader of this year’s trip, David Simpson, and suggested I might take photos of them setting off from West beach in North Berwick. What followed was an invitation to accompany the group in a double kayak, which I simply could not refuse!

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330298Setting off from West beach in North Berwick

The only other time I have been in a kayak was in a very calm lagoon in Halong Bay, wearing only a swimsuit and life jacket. I doubted that a trip on the water in Scotland in November was likely to be quite the same experience, and I wasn’t sure what I had committed myself to. However, David reassured me that no experience was required and that I would not get wet!

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330255A gorgeous Winter day is promised

The forecast for the day was reasonable, but not brilliant. A swell of up to 1 metre, gradually subsiding. Temperature of around 5-7 degrees. Overcast with showers. When the day dawned, I was treated to a stunning misty sunrise as I drove to North Berwick. The sun came out as we set off and the day just got better and better. After a call to the Coastguard in Aberdeen advising them of our itinerary, the group set off. There were 19 kayaks with a total of 20 of us.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330359Arriving at Lamb Island Kitted up in long johns, watertight trousers and waterproof trousers tucked inside my wellies, several top layers, a waterproof jacket, a life jacket and a spray deck, I felt a bit like Michelin man. David advised me how to paddle, but I had a camera inside a waterproof bag so I could take photos as we paddled to the island. I had to put the camera away fairly quickly as there was spray from the swell. Surprisingly, I never felt any anxiety at all. The swells just passed quietly under the kayak, though if you were to look around at one coming, you might be forgiven for panicking. In no time at all we had reached the island.

The plan to tie the kayaks up together in a line between the island and a rocky outcrop wasn’t possible: the swell travelling from both sides, meeting in the middle and sending up a large spray would have knocked the kayaks against each other. Instead, once occupants had jumped out of the kayaks, each boat was hauled up onto a rocky outcrop on the edge of the island, making a colourful arrangement.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330351Kayaks safely stowed on a rocky outcrop

Layers discarded, the group went straight to work. The tree mallow was concentrated in clumps with the top of the island being relatively clear. The plant needs to be cut as close to the ground as possible. The larger plants have woody stems which are very tough. Puffin burrows are everywhere in the soft grassy ground and it requires care to avoid stepping in the wrong place and destroying one. Puffins return to the same burrow each year, so the destruction of a burrow has a big impact.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330447Cutting tree mallow

I had the luxury of focussing on taking photos; I know how hard the work is from my trips to Fidra and Craigleith. In just over an hour, a huge amount of tree mallow had been cleared. After a short stop for lunch and cake (I was offered flapjacks, two types of brownies, a sponge cake, homemade biscuits….) almost the whole of the rest of the island was cleared.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330496Hard work cutting tree mallow SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330496Hard work cutting tree mallow

Meanwhile I was watching the tide coming in and gradually cutting off the rocky outcrop on which the kayaks were perched. The swell occasionally  swept through in a pretty dramatic spray. Each member had to make the choice either to jump/swim across the channel with all their gear to retrieve their kayak, or wait for another member in a kayak to bring their kayak round to the rocky shore, stow the gear and jump in. This took time with 20 people to get organised, with the tide rising all the time.  However, the operation was accomplished with evident skill and teamwork.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330669Tricky conditions to get into the kayaks SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330669Tricky conditions to get into the kayaks

Lothian Sea Kayak Club43

Lothian Sea Kayak Club41

Once we were all aboard, the light from the setting sun was glorious, and provided a great opportunity for a group photo. The paddle back to North Berwick was calmer than before and I was able to take photos of some of the group paddling against the fantastic seascape. And I didn’t get wet at all, as David had promised, despite the tricky conditions. If the opportunity arises again, I will jump at the chance for another outing. Very many thanks to Lothian Sea Kayak Club for a wonderful and friendly experience.

SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330758Returning to North Berwick SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330758Returning to North Berwick SallyAndersonG8017November2019P1330758Returning to North Berwick


BEFORE                                                                      AFTER

    Lothian Sea Kayak Club26 Lothian Sea Kayak Club31

[email protected] (Sally Anderson Photography) Firth of Forth kayak kayakers kayaks Lamb Island Lothian Sea Kayak Club photography Scottish Seabird Centre SOS Puffin Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:58:02 GMT