Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

The original post for this week’s photo challenge mentions a robin’s nest as a possible example of intricate.  I’m going to take that a step further and suggest that it is not only the nest that is intricate, but that those weeks of being an egg and hatchling are perilous and require a lot of intricate details go right for the young bird. Two years ago four of the five health hatches were taken away by a larger bird of prey, a simple example of what can go wrong for these young ones.  This year’s nest is doing well so far, four healthy hatches.  The nest is getting crowded as the birds are growing, here is the nest first thing this morning:

ISO 800 4mm f/2.7 1/200

ISO 800 4mm f/2.7 1/200

I have been taking a quick photo on the macro setting with my point and shoot every morning to get a beak count before I set up my larger camera.  I had taken this photo and was inside getting the chairs for my larger set-up when I heard a lot of squawking and looked outside to see that one of the birds was on the ground and hopping away.  Much to the distress of the adult birds the young bird was sitting out in the open like this:

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

The adults spent several minutes trying to corral their youngster:

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

The baby hopped back closer to the nest and was fed by the adults:

ISO 800 195mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 195mm f/6.3 1/250

But the nest is too high up for this baby to get back in.  The adults managed to lure it over to a patch of wildflowers we have.  A few minutes later, the young bird was led by the adults into our hedgerow which will provide more cover while the bird is learning to fly.

It seemed like a bit of a stressful moment for the adult birds as they saw to their young offspring.  Their chatter attracted the attention of other animals who came to watch.  In addition to myself, there was another pair of adult robins, a pair of mourning doves, a northern flicker, a squirrel, and a rabbit.  All of these animals, attracted by the noise, came to watch the moment unfold.  After it was over the robins went back to the business of feeding the rest of their remaining offspring.

ISO 1000 50mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 1000 50mm f/6.3 1/250

Just a few of the intricacies that go into being a robin. As for me, to capture these few moments required two cameras and three lenses.  I started with my point and shoot.  The rest of the photos were taken with my Canon 50D.  I used my longer 70-200mm lens for the yard shots and then switched to the 50mm when taking the last photo.

I’ve been posting photos of this journey on Flickr and Twitter, so feel free to join me there and follow along. Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

There is a lot going on this Spring in my household.  One thing, that I’m pretty excited about, is that there is a robin’s nest outside of my kitchen window.  I’m busy taking photos of the birds as they are growing.  I use a fast shutter speed setting on my camera but sometimes I still get photos that look like this:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

A second later I get a clear shot:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

This shot has been cropped and sharpened in Photoshop.  No amount of sharpening is going to make that first picture a clear shot.  For the most part to get these shots I have my camera on a tripod which is set on top of a few of the good dining room chairs that I have set outside.  I have a remote shutter which allows me to be inside and taking pictures.  I took a photo of this silly looking set up and blogged about it here.  For the two shots above I used my Canon 50D.  I also take my point and shoot out when I am setting up my larger camera.  This morning I got this shot:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

This shot, cropped and sharpened, is my favorite of the day.  I’v been using my point and shoot everyday to get a close up photo like this.  I have a series of photos of the eggs and then the hatchlings.  Those photos I have posted on Twitter and Flickr, so feel free to drop by and follow along with the unfolding story there.

The difference between the two photos, between a blur of motion and a clear shot, is one second.  The first photo taken at 9:17:47 and the second 9:17:48.  What a difference a second can make.

What do you think? which photo do you prefer? Care to hazard a guess as to how many photos I took this morning between 8:31 and 9:18 as I was watching the adult birds come and go?  Feel free to leave a comment or you guess below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

I tend to get up early, I enjoy taking photos first thing in the morning.  This spring we have a robin nest outside of our kitchen window.  As in past years, I set up my camera and tripod with a remote shutter to take photos.  I’ve been waiting for the four eggs in the nest to hatch. It should be any day now.  This morning I was thinking it might be the day because in the time I had my camera set up the mother bird flew back and forth several times to the hedgerow.  In the past, we have seen mother birds do this to get rid of shells as the birds hatch.  This morning looked like this:

Land, look at camera:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/200

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/200

Conduct an egg count:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/125

Head back out:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/200

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/200

I was sure I would find a hatchling there, but not yet, just eggs today:

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/640

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/640

A bit about last year’s nest is here. A few nice pictures, but an unhappy ending for that year’s nest.  I’m hoping for a happier outcome this year.  I’ve also noticed that my best pictures are a bit later that perhaps what you would expect.  I have good luck between 7:30-8:00am, the mother bird is active and the light in that particular spot is nice then. I guess you could say I’m an early bird that doesn’t have to be that early.

It’s lovely when the photo opportunity comes to your kitchen window, don’t you think?  Feel free to leave a comment or pick a favorite out of this morning’s photos.

A little update on 4/21/15: I have been taking photos of the now hatched birds, to see a few check out my twitter feed.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blur

I received some tulips as a gift this week from my oldest child, and was thinking of taking some photos of them this morning.  I hadn’t really settled on how I wanted to take the photos so when the weekly photo challenge theme was posted as blur, I figured I found my answer.

I shot the tulips using two different cameras but ended up liking the results from my 50D best.  For these photos I had screwed on a magnifying lens to my 50mm lens.  I ended up editing two shots.  Here they are:

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/640

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/640

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/320

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/320

For this challenge I decided I wanted one spot to be in sharp focus and the rest to be a soft blur. Making the f-stop 2.8 fairly easy way to accomplish this.  Before shooting I had considered adding all the blur in Photoshop, but decided this time around to get the blur in the camera instead.

The two photos were edited different ways.  For the top photo, I made a curves adjustment that I thought made the colors deeper and brought attention to the point of focus.  I then sharpened the image.  In the second image, I felt the point of focus was a bit less important than the overall soft feel.  I added an oil paint filter and a color overlay of very light purple.  Then I also multiplied the layer, just to deepen the colors.  Here are the original photos out of the camera:

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/640

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/640

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/320

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/2.8 1/320

Interesting what just a few edits can do isn’t it?  Do you have a favorite?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I was out the other day during a short break in the rain to take photos of my neighbors flowering dogwood tree.  Those photos were what I thought of when I saw this week’s photo challenge was ephemeral.  I find this tree’s blossoms beautiful, but they are so fleeting.  They are one of the first things that bloom in this area and because the weather is very unstable, the blossoms often get damaged within a few days.  Here is one of my processed images:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

You will notice that the shutter speed is pretty fast.  It had to be to deal with the wind.  Luckily there was enough overcast light to handle that sort of speed.

I will put the original photo below, but when I went to process the image I knew that I wanted my final image to look quite a bit different than the original.  Within Photoshop I opened the image in Camera Raw and desaturated it into a black and white.  Then I used an adjustment brush and a very light yellow color to paint over the bloom.  Then I opened the image in Photoshop and cropped it a bit.  I created a layer and added blur.  Then I added a mask and painted back the detail in the bloom.  I then added a bit of noise to the whole image.  Here is what the beginning image looked like:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

With these edits, I created an image that I think reflects the fleeting beauty of spring.  Do you think it works?  Do you have a favorite spring tree?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

This week’s photo challenge works in nicely with something I started this week.  After attending a photo seminar last weekend I decided to try a few ideas that caught my attention.  One idea discussed was having a project wall or board.  So, I went out and bought a white board, some markers, and some magnets:

ISO 1000 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/20

ISO 1000 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/20

The four columns are different projects I am currently working on.  My thought is to have current versions of photos I am working on up and in a highly visible place so that I can be thinking of them throughout my work day.  Also it is a spot to jot down ideas as they come to me.

So, my photo for this week is a summary of the photography projects I have in the works.  At this point I really like the board.  In part because I am working on several different things and sometimes I find it easy to lose my train of thought  and I’m hoping this will help me.

Do you use a board or wall like this to help you stay organized or focused in your work?  How many creative projects do you have going at any one time?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

In terms of this week’s photo challenge, orange, I guess I just got lucky.  Today was the start of Art in Bloom at the St. Louis Art Museum. The challenge for local floral gurus in the area is to create a floral arrangement that represents a piece of art work they are assigned.  It is a fun and very crowded exhibit to see.  For this blog post I chose to show the floral arrangement of Catherine Thoele who was assigned Octagonal Jar with Design of Cherry Trees, Peonies, and Chrysanthemums.

Of the ones I saw, this was my favorite interpretive arrangement.  I loved the orange of the flowers, but one of the details that I appreciated was the leaves that had blue paint flecks on them, it was a nice tie-in to the original art work.

The challenges as a photographer to get these photos included low light, no flash allowed, and the crowds.  I chose to take my point and shoot, it is easier to handle in a crowded situation.  I used two different settings to get the photos.  One was Auto.  The other was a program mode that allows me to shoot macro.  I got some nice close-ups of individual photos in that mode.  As far as post-editing, I have kept that to a minimum. I did some cropping on a few.  The biggest adjustment I made was on the vase photo, where I applied an Iris blur filter.  I made that choice because the background was truly distracting.

I think it is because I enjoy looking at interpretations of art that this is one of my favorite exhibits of the year at the St. Louis Art Museum.  What do you think? should interpretations like this be featured in museums? Also, it was mentioned in the challenge to try a different gallery format for the photos.  I generally insert my photos one at a time in a fairly large format, so this gallery is a change for me.  What do you think of the format?  I think I can get away with it in this post, but I don’t think I be changing my normal format any time soon.  Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!