70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

In the morning, you can often find me outside.  I love being out in the light and quiet of the early part of the day.  I’ve just moved over this summer, and so my landscape has changed.  Meet one of my new neighbors:

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

Between the two lakes I visit in the morning, there are five adult swans.  There are plenty of other birds and the beautiful haze of morning light.  I don’t usually take my camera with me first thing, I’m out for my morning run or walk just soaking in the day, not yet photographing it.  Yesterday morning, I made an exception, I went out with my camera before going out for my run.  I got a few photos of these swans, I took them from several angles so the light looks different in them.  This particular one, I shot into the sun.  I wanted the saturated light of the sun to be in the photo.  What I lost by doing that was detail in the swan.  To bring back some of that detail when I was editing in Photoshop, I duplicated the original layer.  The bottom layer I sharpened.  The top layer I put a mask on and then masked back in some of the details in the swan.  This meant that the more hazy feel of the light could stay in the photo.  Then I cropped the photo, because as you will see below, this swan was not by himself:

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

To me, these edits made a pretty radical difference.  To be honest, I’m not sure which I prefer.  The second seems more like a snapshot and the green near the second swan just kind of bugs me.  But the overall feel of the light I do like in the second photo.  There is another photo from this series that I am editing that I am having a similar struggle; I’m just not sure which version of the photograph I prefer.

Do you run into this with your photography, having difficulty picking between two versions of an image?  What do you think of my versions, do you have a preference? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

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!

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Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

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!

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Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Let the Journey be the) Reward

Easy to say, let the journey be the reward, hard to do though in my opinion.  I had been rethinking the way I view my workday this week so in a strange way this challenge did tie into what I had been thinking about this week.  I have an hourly part-time job and then I have my own business which I am hoping to have up and running in the next few years.  It is easy to let the hourly job, with its short term reward of a paycheck, take precedence over my own business whose reward is more long term and harder to describe.

So, this week I started a timer to keep track of the hours I am putting into my business.  An attempt to remind myself that this job is as real as my paycheck job.  So far, I have found it helpful, so I am going to stick with it for awhile.  One of the things I was working on this week while I was on my new clock, was layers and textures.  As part of that I went out this morning and took some photos of leaves, dead and brown, in the hopes of using that image to create new ones.  So below is a description of what I was working on.

First here is the original leaf photo:

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

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

It’s a bit dark and needed some cropping.  This is a version that I edited into more of what I had in mind:

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

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

Then I decided to try combining it with another image.  Here is the image I chose:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

I then combined the two and created this final image:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

Is this image one that I will sell? Nope, but it is the technique that I will use in other images that I would.

In this case with the two images in Photoshop, I drug the leaves in as a layer below the owl image. Then I put a mask on the bird layer and using a paintbrush set at about 40% opacity, I painted the leaves faintly in.

What do you think of the technique? Is this something you have also tried? What to you is most rewarding in your artistic endeavors?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

I found out this week that this photo won an honorable mention in a photo contest that I entered it in:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

I titled this one, Siblings, it was taken last spring as part of a series of images I took of a the nest that was just outside our kitchen window.  This particular image was taken with my point and shoot camera.  I then cropped it and sharpened it in Photoshop.  To be honest, I did minimal post editing with this photo because I thought that the picture told the story without anything added to it.

I was pleased to have won with this photo, it seems like quite an achievement to me considering the quality of competition that my camera club offers.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers!

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Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Travel Theme: Fresh

For this week’s travel theme fresh I’m back in the classroom.  A freshly hatched chick:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f/4 1/25

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f/4 1/25

And outdoors with newly hatched robins:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

These photos were taken with different cameras.  The chicken photo was taken with my Canon 50D.  The lighting was quite dark but I wanted to give the photo a soft light look.  So the ISO is high, the f-stop is low, and the shutter speed is slow. The chick was resting it’s head on the shell and was being very still, so the slow shutter speed was not a problem.

The robin photo was taken with my point and shoot camera using the macro setting on the camera.  While I didn’t do any post editing on the chicken, the robin photo has been cropped and sharpened.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Brand New Robins in Black and White

I’m pretty excited to have a robin’s nest right outside my kitchen window.  I had been tracking the nest for days and thrilled to see that two have hatched. In addition to taking color photos I was interested to see what these birds would look like in black and white:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

At the time this photo was taken the babies had been hatched for at least 9 hours.  I had taken their picture earlier in the day and they were already bigger and had more feathers than my earlier shots.

I edited this photo in Photoshop.  I cropped the image then converted it to black and white, then I sharpened it.  Here is the original color version as it was straight out of the camera:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

What do you think?  It is more common to see an image like this in color, but do you like the black and white treatment? Feel free to leave a comment below

I wrote this post in part as a response to the theme of “small subjects” over at Cee’s Black and White Challenge. I’m not sure if I would have thought to convert this image to black and white if I had not seen her challenge, so I’d like to thank her for the idea.

Cheers!

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