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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

This weekend I spent some time at World Bird Sanctuary because they were hosting a Camera Day.  That is where they have some of their birds out of their cages so that you can get some nice photos in a more natural setting.  Here is a shot I got of a Great Horned Owl:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/800

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/800

The good news is that I had a great time.  The bad news is that I forgot my tripod.  While it doesn’t matter too much for this particular photo, I will tell you that I have a lot of photos that will be heading for the electronic trash bin.

As you can see, it was a pretty bright day.  I set my ISO pretty low but because of the dark wood colors I did not set it at 100, but 320 looked like it would work.  When I am shooting in this situation I almost always try to shoot bracketed exposures.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that with light changing frequently in a wooded area, a bracketed exposure gives you more options per click of the shutter.  The exposure that would have worked a minute ago may now have changed.  Bracketing offers you some flexibility with the changing conditions. The second is I am almost always thinking of trying to make an HDR image out of a photo like this.  What you see above is HDR.  I really like bird images in HDR because in my opinion it really brings out the detail in their feathers.  I chose a low f-stop because I did want to blur out the background a bit.  I would like you to notice how well this bird blends in with its background, but I don’t want the background to compete too much with the bird.  Given that this owl is made to blend in with it’s environment, the balance between the subject and background can be a tough one.  Since the Great Horned Owl is often not seen but instead heard, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a bit eerie to suddenly hear it hooting.  I wouldn’t blame you for jumping a bit.

Eerie is the theme of the weekly photo challenge at WordPress and other entries can be found here.  Have you ever been startled by one of these birds? it’s happened to me more than once while out camping, in the dead of night of course!  Do you like this HDR version?  This is not my first time photographing the Great Horned Owl, here is another shot from last fall. Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Canon 50D, Flowers, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

I love patterns in nature, so when I saw the topic of the photo challenge from WordPress this week was lines and patterns, I went back to this photo of a butterfly that I shot a few months ago but never finished editing.  Here is the edited version:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/30

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/30

To get this shot I used a tripod, just to get the image as still as possible.  I wanted to keep my ISO as low as possible. The shutter speed is slow to let in some of the light I was keeping out with my low ISO. Because of the tripod and also because the butterfly stopped for a minute, I was able to get away with a shutter speed on 1/30.  I chose a low f-stop, because the background is quite busy.

The editing I have done in Photoshop.  I created a duplicate layer and then used my history brush set of 35% opacity and color burn, with the brush I boosted the color in the butterfly to make it stand out a bit more from the background.  After doing that, I cropped and sharpened the photo.

Here is the original:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/30

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/30

What do you think? Do you like the outcome of my edited version? have you ever used the history brush to get a similar result?

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

The Family that Dropped By

While I was filling my bird feeders the other day, I accidentally spilled some bird seed on our front step.  After I was inside, I realized that some sparrows were eating it.  I thought this might be a good opportunity to take some bird pictures that did not feature our feeders.  Here is my favorite picture of the series that I took:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/250

I got this shot by setting up my camera on a tripod and using a remote trigger.  My camera equipment is outside and I am watching from inside waiting for the sparrows to come back and pose, which they were nice enough to do.  I set my ISO to 100 because although it was still pretty early, it was really bright out.  I used an f-stop of f/8 and shutter speed of 1/250 to stop the motion and retain detail.

Once I was finished shooting I cropped this image and then edited it in Photoshop.  I changed the levels and turned it into a black and white image.  I started with the blue filter setting, but did tweak it a bit as I thought the blue was too dark on the wings of the sparrows.  Here is the image as it was in my camera:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/250

Fifty two species of sparrow live here in North America.  That is one very large family, and family is the theme of this week’s black and white photography challenge hosted by Sonel

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Canon 50D, Nature, Photography

Black and White Weekly Photo Challenge: Toys

Just for fun sometimes I like to pull out my kids toys and think of ways to shoot them.  I have never tried to then process them in black and white.  So, yesterday I tried just that.  Here is my favorite:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/80

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/80

It’s a lone wolf lurking in my front yard.  For this photo I went with an f-stop of 5.6 because I wanted the whole wolf to be in focus but I was OK with the background not being in focus.  I cropped the image in Aperture and then chose a  blue filter in Photoshop, then I sharpened the image a bit.

Thanks so much to Sonel for hosting this challenge.  I usually leave my images in color, so this is a fun chance to try black and white.

Cheers!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through Your Eyes

How about looking into the eyes of this guy?

ISO 400 300mm 0ev f/5.6 1/60

ISO 400 300mm 0ev f/5.6 1/60

He is a Long-crested Eagle, a bird that is native to Africa.  This particular bird however has a permanent home at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis Missouri.

The reason he is here perhaps explains the intense look in his eyes.  He was seized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service when someone cut off his crest, spray painted him, and attempted to sneak him into the US with the thought of selling him illegally.

When I took this photo, I was hoping to catch this intense gaze because I think it helps tell his story.  To get this image, I had rented a 70-300mm lens.  I was also using a tripod.  I settled on an f-stop of 5.6 because I thought it left a lot of detail in the bird and also blurred out the background in a slightly surreal way.  I was hoping that the odd background would also suggest that this bird really does not belong here in the US, he should really have been left in the wild but now has to stay here.

I took a bracketed exposure because I knew I wanted to create an HDR image.  I used Photomatix to create the HDR and then did my sharpening in Photoshop.  This bird is part of a series that I created.  Other birds I have blogged about include a Eurasian Eagle Owl and a Barn Owl.

A version of this images is available on Picfair.

What do you think of this bird? Pretty intense looking? Have you ever seen one? Have a comment just in general? feel free to leave it below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Climbing, Photo Editing, Photography

At the Rock Wall

For the past few weeks I have been working on a series of photos for my digital photography class.  The assignment was pretty wide open, but one option was a photojournalism series of nine photos.  I decided to do a series about rock wall climbing.  Basically the nine photos show the process of going on a climb.  Here are two from the series:

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/125

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/125

ISO 2000 50mm 0 ev f/3.5 1/125

ISO 2000 50mm 0 ev f/3.5 1/125

Lighting was a huge challenge for this series.  I used my 50mm lens because I knew I would need a low f-stop.  I am also using a pretty high ISO.  These images are HDR images, processed using Photomatix.  After that, I put them in Photoshop and put a gradient mask on them.  I did that because I found the color in the originals was pretty distracting.  I also did noise reduction and sharpening in Photoshop.

For the assignment the prints are about 15×10.  I am turning in the assignment today, so wish me luck.

Cheers!

 

 

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photography

At the Bird Feeder

I spend a fair amount of time taking pictures of birds.  Today’s photos are of a Tufted Titmouse:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/4.5 1/500

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/4.5 1/500

ISO640 50mm 0ev f/4.5 1/500

ISO640 50mm 0ev f/4.5 1/500

Kind of a funny name, but they are a cute little bird.

There were a few challenges to deal with here.  Because a bird like this is almost always in motion, I did use my tripod.  I am also using a fast shutter speed.  Really what I am doing with a fast shutter speed and tripod is attempting to freeze the action and every little bit helps.  I also raised the ISO to 640 to help with the light.  The f-stop you really have to think about in a photo like this.  The number has to be small enough to let in enough light.  However, if it is too low, you might not get the whole bird in focus.  On the flip side of that, if the number is too high, too much of the background will be in focus.  For this shot, I really wanted the background to be blurred enough so that you still know what it is, but aren’t  really spending a lot of time looking at it.

As far as post editing, for these shots I only cropped them and then left it at that.

So, do you have any bird photo tips you like to share? other comments? please leave them below.

Cheers!

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