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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Roy G. Biv starts with R

I have been in Utah for a few weeks.  One thing Utah has in abundance is beautiful red rocks:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/16 1/30

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/16 1/30

I took this photo at about 6:30am at Bryce Canyon National Park as the sun was starting to work it’s way through the rocks.  I used an f-stop of f/16 because I wanted to show detail in the rocks.  That required a fairly low shutter speed, but I wasn’t too worried about that because I was fairly sure my subject matter wasn’t going anywhere.  The light was the variable, shots taken a few minutes earlier on the same settings were much darker.

I bracketed this photo and when I edited it, created this HDR image in Photomatix Pro.  The individual photos turned out a bit flat as compared to what I was seeing in person.  I think this HDR version above is closer to what I saw.  I was thinking as I was taking pictures that this landscape just looked better in person than in photos.  So after taking my shots, I put my camera away and just stood for awhile watching the sun come up.

Have you ever had a moment like that where you just put your camera down, because you were sure the images wouldn’t do the moment justice?  This week’s photo challenge is Roy G. Biv, the colors of the rainbow.  I love taking photos with all sorts of colors, but I also think that sometimes the rainbow is best experienced without the camera.  What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Life with Chickens

Enveloped, that’s just a polite way to say my life has been taken over by chickens right? In my case, this chicken in particular:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/40

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/40

This little chicken, while cute, is not particularly healthy.  It was born in an incubator a few days before this photo was taken, but has a few problems that require fixing if it is going to go on an live a life with other chickens. It is part of a life cycles unit that a friend of mine teaches to second graders.  It’s a great unit in my opinion in part because it includes perfectly healthy chickens and those that aren’t.

In this case, you can see two problems from this photo:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/40

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/40

The first is that wet bottom.  Chickens who are born with this problem die unless you clean them up.  This chicken was cleaned up fairly easily, it just required a few sessions with a sponge and mild soap.  The photo above was taken post bath, looking much cleaner.  With that taken care of, it will then eliminate waste normally and grow some more feathers back there.  The second problem is its legs, can you see how they are splayed?  It is visible in this photo as well:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50

Seconds later the chick flips over to its back where it is stuck, in part because its legs are spread wrong.  The problem for a chicken that gets stuck on its back is that its lungs are on its back and it will die if left like that for too long.  Also, we conduct this test on the chick:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50

We would like this chick to write an essay and he clearly wants no part of it.

Actually, what we are looking to see is if the chicken will grasp the pencil.  You can see that he does not.  So at this point we bind the legs:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

That’s a band-aid holding his legs in a proper position.  At this point in life, the chicken’s legs are malleable, so setting them like this will hopefully get them into the proper position so that this chicken will walk properly.

So what’s next?  Hopefully the band-aid will be removed after about a day and this chicken will walk properly.  The next step will be to wait to see if it will grow properly.  This is a very small chicken, much smaller than its hatch mates. Once it grows a bit it will head on to the farm and hopefully have a nice chicken life.

It is my hope that this chicken will stay with us for a few more days and then be healthy enough to move on.  I am hoping to take more photos to document its stay with us, look to my Flickr and Twitter accounts for photos.  I will write a follow up blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.  Have any questions or comments? feel free to leave them below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

Last week this robin decided to move:

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

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

Out of the nest and into the hedgerow.  I was wondering what made him decide to go.  One of his siblings had left the day before.  It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but here is what he left behind:

ISO 800 f/2.7 1/320 0ev 4.33mm

ISO 800 f/2.7 1/320 0ev 4.33mm

These other two robins would wait an additional day before leaving.  When they went to leave one flew directly to the hedgerow.  The other decided to walk most of the way:

ISO 1000 f/6.3 1/320 0ev 200mm

ISO 1000 f/6.3 1/320 0ev 200mm

Here this last bird is, with an adult on the lookout as it makes it’s way to the hedgerow.  The adult offers up a snack as enticement:

ISO 640 f/6.3 1/160 0ev 195mm

ISO 640 f/6.3 1/160 0ev 195mm

Made it all the way to the hedgerow with a bit of coaxing.

So of the four birds this year, two flew directly and two walked.  I’m not an expert on birds but one difference I noticed was that the birds that walked seemed to have shorter and fewer feathers on their backside.  I was wondering though, given that they seemed to be a be leaving a bit sooner than they should have, what forces compelled them forward.  In past years we have had other hatchlings leave too early for obvious reasons.  One was forced out in a storm.  The other was the surviving member of an attack by a larger bird of prey.  The small bird was taken by it’s parents into the hedgerow at least two days earlier than it would have gone on its own, we suspect that it did survive.

So that is the end of the story for this year’s nest.  Thanks to all of you who followed along.  Let me know what you think of these final pictures.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!