70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Flowers, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

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.

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50mm Lens, 70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

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!

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50mm Lens, 70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

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!

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50mm Lens, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

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!

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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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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

As I was thinking about how to respond to this week’s photo challenge, serenity, it occurred to me that I would say serenity is an idea that shows up a lot in my photography.  For this week, I chose this image:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

The image itself was taken this past fall.  I stopped, looked up, and saw this lovely pattern of light that I thought would turn out well in a photograph.  This final edited version is actually a fusion of two identical images shot using different exposures and then edited in Photomatix Pro.   Here are the two originals:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

I felt that creating an HDR image would bring out the jewel tones in the leaves and the bokeh effect in the background of the image.  When I took the original photos, it was a bright day so I had lowered my ISO to 100.  It was also a bit breezy, and in this case I wanted the leaves to be still, so that is the reason for the fast shutter speed.  I settled on an f-stop of 5.6 after a couple of other tries, because I felt like that was the right balance of bokeh in the background and clarity in the leaves.

As for serenity, it’s been a bit elusive in my life lately.  I’ve missed the last few photo challenges.  It’s nice to be back, and I’m looking forward to getting caught up on my comments and visits to other blogs.  As for serenity in a photo, this particular image works for me but what do you think? your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

When I think of minimalist photography, I always think of an image that is more poetry than novel. To me poetry as a writing form allows for more interpretation than the fully formed narrative of a novel. Minimalism allows for more breathing room.  So for this week’s challenge, I chose to edit an image that I took a few weeks ago in a very peaceful garden:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

To get this image, I chose an f-stop of f/10, because I wanted the water and the bridge to be in focus.  This image is more about taking in an entire scene than it is about just the elements in the foreground. I also chose a fast shutter speed because it was pretty windy that day but I knew I wanted an image that was more serene.

When I got to the editing phase, I first cropped the image because I felt there were elements in the photo that were distracting.  Then I put a warming filter on it in Photoshop.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

What do you think? Does this qualify as a minimalist image to you, or does it still have too many elements? How about the filter, I think it conveys a sense of calm that helps the image seem more minimalist, do you agree? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

I’ll admit right up front that when I saw that “Cover Art” was the theme for this week’s photo challenge, I had no idea what I was going to do.  Then I thought about what I have been shooting lately. A quick look through my files, and you would see that nature images is what I have been focusing on. Then I was looking at this image that I processed a week or so ago:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

And there is my cover art for an article on the plight of bees. I was thinking in terms of a series of images.  The one above looks nice and cheery and the truth is that beehives aren’t thriving lately. I wanted to make the image that conveys that peril.  The above image was shot in a local cemetery and I had used an f-stop of 3.5 to blur out the background.  I also tweaked the exposure a bit and sharpened it in Photoshop.

My first thought was to convert it to a infrared image, I thought that would create a surreal, something is a bit off kind of feel.  I did that by creating a black and white layer in Photoshop and then using the infrared setting.  I didn’t like the outcome, but I did like the black and white version, which was the first step in creating this image:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

While I liked the tone of the image, I felt that it was too sharp and that blurring would help create a sense of the bees disappearing.  So this image has a field blur filter applied to it.

I liked it, but was curious to see what a similar filter setting would look like in color.  So, I created another version:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

Now I’m not sure which version I like best.  Which version most suggests to you that something has gone wrong for the bee population?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Flowers, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

It’s a bit of a contradiction but one of the things I hate about Photoshop I also love. As a photographer, I love to create an image in camera and not have to edit it later. However, I do also enjoy creating a new image out of the one that was taken straight from the camera. For me, editing often involves creating an image that is softer, a dreamy take on the original.

In honor of this week’s photo challenge I took a photo I had taken a few weeks ago and created two versions, both artistic takes on the original.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

One of the reasons I took this photo using the settings I did was that I knew that it would blur out the background pretty well.  To me, this was important because the garden is a very crowded place and I wanted to focus on these two flowers.

When I edited the photo, the first thing I did was crop, specifically to get rid of the yellow in the background that I found distracting.

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

I did like this version but for this challenge I took it a step further, and created a version using the paint filter in Photoshop:

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

You may also notice that I took the liberty of removing the two little bugs from the flower.  No bugs in the garden? Now you know that is a dream, certainly not reality thankfully.

So how do you like my oil paint version?  Do the other versions appeal to you more?

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Flowers, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

It’s been a long summer and some of the wildflowers in our garden have seen better days:

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

It’s a small act of endurance to live in this spot in the garden. The flowers that grow there are subject to heavy rain, blistering sun, and wind.

It’s been a long and busy summer in our house as well. If you have stopped by this blog before you know that I took the summer off to focus on a few things. I’m still working on my Illustrator class, but I have missed blogging so I am back, hopefully once a week.

The photo above I took this morning in our garden with my new (to me) Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens. I will show the original photo below. I increased the exposure and clarity in Camera Raw.  Then in Photoshop I cropped and sharpened it. I was pleased with the outcome.  I’m looking forward to playing around some more with this new lens.

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers!

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