Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

Ok, so if spiders aren’t your thing, click away and come back to visit another time.

I had been working this week with sepia tones and I thought that might work well with this week’s theme of creepy.  The images I had been working on earlier in the week were mostly landscapes; images which could be but are not necessarily creepy.

A spider though? that’s creepy:

ISO 1250 f/3.5 1/60 0ev 50mm

ISO 1250 f/3.5 1/60 0ev 50mm

This is a female Zebra Tarantula, common in Costa Rica.  Actually, this is mostly just a leg shot.  I was using my 50mm lens with a close up lens that actually looks more like a filter and screws onto my 50mm lens.  I thought that would be a nice way to focus on the leg striping and hair.

In Photoshop to create this sepia effect, I made a black and white layer but I also created a hue and saturation layer.  On the hue and saturation layer I clicked colorize and then moved the slider to the tone I wanted.  I then duplicated that layer and made the tone on that layer a bit different.  I put a mask on that layer and then masked some of the lower layer in.  Combining the two layers like that was a technique that I had never tried before. I liked the outcome.  In this case, I saved my cropping for last.  I wasn’t really sure when I started how the sepia tone might affect my choice of what to crop.  Here is the original image:

ISO 1250 f/3.5 1/60 0ev 50mm

ISO 1250 f/3.5 1/60 0ev 50mm

So, what do you think? Do you prefer one image over the other?  I like the edit, but I do like my nature shots to look natural, so I like the original color image as well.  If I was to edit the original again and keep the color, I think I would pick a similar crop because I think the crop makes the image a lot stronger.  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet

On an overcast day this past week I was able to get some bird shots that featured reflections:

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

This Cattle Egret has an almost identical replica of itself right beneath its feet.  The somewhat dark, overcast morning allowed for some vivid reflections.  It did mean however that I had to raise my ISO and lower my shutter speed to attempt to get the photo I was after.  This bird paused for a moment, so I was able to get the shot.  I have plenty of other shots that will be headed straight to the trash bin.  As far as editing, I stuck some pretty basic moves, I cropped the photo, increased the temperature rating in Camera Raw to warm it up a bit, and sharpened it.  Here is the original:

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

I think the edits make for a more compelling photo, what do you think?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration

When it comes to inspiration for my photography, I just go outside.  I love taking nature images and this past week, I was away for a few days camping by a river.  Close to our campsite was a garden full of butterflies, here is one:

ISO 400 190mm 0ev f/10 1/250

ISO 400 190mm 0ev f/10 1/250

This is the edited version, I’ll show you the original in a bit.  For this photo I chose an ISO of 400 because even though it was sunny, the garden itself was full of harsh shadows. I picked an f-stop of f/10 because I wanted most of the image in focus, but I was OK with some of the background detail fading away. A shutter speed of 250 seemed to be fine to catch the movement of the butterfly.  In editing this photo, I first cropped and sharpened it.  I then made a layer with a gradient map that was yellow, but dropped that layer’s opacity to about 70%. That was the top layer; I also put a mask on it and masked back in the original flower and butterfly.  The result created some contrast between the two layers. I then decided to use the oil paint filter to give the photo a bit of a dreamy look.  Here is the original:

ISO 400 190mm 0ev f/10 1/250

ISO 400 190mm 0ev f/10 1/250

So what do you think of my two versions? Feel free to leave a comment below.

On another note, what do you do when things go seriously awry? One of my favorite bloggers and certainly my favorite dinosaur, just got out of prison.  She’s going to use her experience to help other women who have been incarcerated.  To me, that’s brave and inspiring, read her thoughts on it here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

I’ve been to a nearby lake a few times in the last few weeks. With my 70-200mm lens I was hoping to get a close up picture of the herons that nest near the lake.  It was not to be, they were all still too far away.  While I was pouting about that, this dragonfly stopped to rest on a branch near the water.  So I took a few photos.  Here is an edited version:

ISO 800 160mm 0ev f/22 1/40

ISO 800 160mm 0ev f/22 1/40

The dragonfly was actually at an awkward angle from where I was or where I could be to get a photo without being in the water.  He stayed for awhile and so I experimented with quite a few settings in my camera which is why this one is a bit of an odd combination of high f-stop, low shutter speed.  This is actually a bracketed photo, so three photos with different exposures that have been merged.  I used Photomatix to create the HDR image. I was surprised at how well that worked considering the slow shutter speed.  The f-stop was high with the thought of getting the detail in the wings, but it got all the background in detail as well which was distracting.

In order to deal with my background, I opened the HDR image in Photoshop as a smart object and then made a second smart object layer.  I desaturated the top layer to about 48 percent and then created a mask and masked in the full color dragonfly and the tips of the branch he is perched on.  I then used and Iris blur to keep the dragonfly sharp but blur the background a bit.  I also used Photoshop to do some cropping. I was going for a bit of a dreamy other worldly feel without leaving reality completely.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 800 160mm 0ev f/22 1/40

ISO 800 160mm 0ev f/22 1/40

It was several steps worth of editing, but I liked the outcome.  What do you think? feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half

I was up early this morning taking photos of my wildflowers when it occurred to me that perhaps I did have an entry for this week’s photo challenge, half and half.  As much I love taking photos of just the flowers, the photos tend to be more interesting with their other half, bees:

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/7.1 1/160

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/7.1 1/160

In this case, just a single bee.  He was the only one out this morning.  When I edited this photo, I did something I don’t usually do, I did a fair amount of the editing in Camera Raw before opening it up in Photoshop.  I used the sliders in Camera Raw to adjust the exposure, clarity, and highlights.  Then I opened it in Photoshop to crop and sharpen the image.  Here is the original shot:

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/7.1 1/160

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/7.1 1/160

I think the image is a bit stronger with the edits.  With the bee almost dead center, it does break the “rule of thirds” photography rule.  In this case that doesn’t bother me. To be honest I think part of what I like about this photo, is the fact that I was up early enough before work to have the time to go and be outside in one of my favorite places.  Do you have a photo like that, one that is more about how you were feeling at the time and not so much about the photo itself?  What do you think of the edits?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

A few weeks ago I was rock climbing in Utah.  Close to the area were these petroglyphs:

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/8 1/125

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/8 1/125

These symbols are examples of Fremont Rock Art and date from 450-1300 A.D.  Also close by were examples of Archaic Rock Art dating from 6,000-1000 B.C. and modern graffiti.  Personally, I find the modern graffiti on these rocks annoying, but looking at the Fremont period work, I was wondering if there would have been people in that time who found it annoying that their contemporaries were putting “graffiti” where the older Archaic art was.

This photo was taken outside Arches National Park on Utah Highway 27 near the climbing area called Wall Street.  I was using my 70-200mm lens, but as this example of the petroglyphs were not that far up the rock, the zoom wasn’t really necessary.  I edited this image in Photoshop using curves to make the colors in the rock pop a bit and make the art stand out.

Bonus points to you if you find the critter in the photo.  I also have posted this photo on Flickr.  What do you think of this type of art? do you also like graffiti?  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

When it comes to my photography and what I choose to shoot, there is no doubt that nature is my favorite subject.  To narrow it down further than that, I would say that I prefer to shoot animals over landscapes.  For this week’s photo challenge, I am limiting it even further, this post is for the birds.

First, a short update on my chickens. I wrote back in May about a chicken that we were helping get back on its feet. Literally, one of the things we did was reset his legs, so that he could walk.  Although small, he seemed to be healthy, so we reintroduced him to the rest of the chickens.  We were a bit concerned that he would be too small to get near the heat lamp, but I guess we should not have worried:

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/40

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/40

Almost right away another chicken took him in and was helping him stay warm.  This photo, taken by my oldest child the day after his reintroduction, made me so happy.  With care like this, I think he will do well.

My other bird up date is on the robins:

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

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

We had a healthy nest outside our kitchen window this year, and all of the hatchlings made it to the relative safety of the hedgerow.  In addition to having a great time photographing them, one of my posts was featured on Freshly Pressed.  That particular post has approximately 500 likes on it; 100 likes is usually what my posts receive.  I’m happy to say that we have spotted these hatchlings a lot this spring.  It seems that a few of them have chosen to stay near the hedgerow, so it has been fun to watch them grow and thrive.

In addition to my bird stories needing an update, this blog needed one as well. All the extra traffic on my blog made me take a second look at my About page.  Turns out, I hadn’t updated it in about two years.  So I took a few minutes this week to make it a bit more current.  Take a look if you are curious, feel free to leave a comment there or here on this post if you like.

Cheers!