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

Weekly Travel Theme: Birds

Birds. There is a travel theme challenge that I am not going to miss.  One place I love to go and take photographs is World Bird Sanctuary.  Last spring I did a series of ten HDR images that features birds from the sanctuary.  Here is a Tawny Owl:

ISO 400 300mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

ISO 400 300mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

When I was creating this image, I was interested in accentuating two things.  The first was that this bird had a bath not long before I took this picture and I loved the fact that not all his feather were dry.  Also, I have photographed this bird many times and usually it looks as if he does not have his eyes all the way open.  In order to accomplish these two things, I zoomed in as close as a could to the owls face, and left my depth of field so shallow that not even all the feather are in focus.

I created this image using Photomatix which is software that can help you create HDR images.  So, in order to create the HDR image I combined three exposures of this same photo which I had captured using the exposure bracketing feature of my camera.  HDR can create a lot of really artistic looking effects but for the purpose of this photo, I was just looking to capture as much detail as possible.

I also created a 5×7 card out of this photo:

This is a 5x7 folded card of a Tawny Owl.

I have written about several other of the birds I created in the series.  They are a Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Screech Owl, Long-crested Eagle, Eurasian-Eagle Owl, and a Barn Owl.

What do you think of my very clean owl? Isn’t  it lovely how many shades of brown and gold he has in his feathers?  Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

The prompt for the WordPress photo challenge asked  participants to think about not only the size of something but its impact when considering what to submit for this week’s theme, grand.  So, I thought small.  This photo is of an Eastern Screech Owl, a version of which is available on Picfair.

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

If you are a regular reader of this blog this image is familiar to you.  I originally created this image as a full color HDR image, if you would like to read about that original version click here.  This particular version I created in the last week because we did some lessons on HDR in my Photoshop class and I created a series of new images for an assignment but then came back to this image to do something a bit different.

Even though it is a Photoshop class, my preferred software for HDR is Photomatix, so that is what I used to create this image.  When shooting this photo, I used the exposure bracketing feature in my camera, so I had three exposures, one light, one dark, and one in the middle.  If you’d like a bit of an explanation of HDR, there is a brief overview here.

For the image you see above, I already had created a color HDR version.  I went back to my bracketed photos and created a black and white version.  With my two HDR versions on my desktop, I then opened them in Photoshop.  Each of the photos is on its own layer.  Then I spent a bit of time creating different combinations until I came up with this version.  In this version, the black and white is on top of the color version.  I put a mask on the black and white layer, and with my paintbrush painted over the eyes, revealing the color version underneath.  That’s it. Probably the simplest version I worked on, but the one I liked the best.

This particular photo I took at World Bird Sanctuary, which if you are ever in the St. Louis area, is a great place to visit with your camera.  I’m sorry to say, that this little owl passed away this week.  A tribute is here, and as a regular visitor to World Bird Sanctuary I can say that this bird was an excellent ambassador for the work they do there.  A little bird that made a grand impact indeed.

So what do you think of the combined HDR version? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions below.  If you don’t have anything to say about this particular photo but would love to leave a comment, take a moment to wish me good luck on my Photoshop final exam which is coming up this week!

Cheers!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Sometimes there is more to a photograph than meets the eye.  In this case, the photo I am posting is actually three photos.  I shot this Bald Eagle using a bracketed exposure so that I could create an HDR image to show as much detail in the bird as possible:

ISO 800 236mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 800 236mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

I shot this photo as part of a series of ten images, this particular one is also in my Picfair portfolio.  In order to create these images I rented this 70-300mm lens.  Because I knew I was going to want to get a bracketed exposure I made sure to take along my tripod to help me get as still of an image as possible.  I have written about other birds in this series, most recently about a Peregrine Falcon.  For this photo, I wanted to blur out the background almost completely.  I wanted to use the green to contrast with and bring out the color of the beak and eye.

I took this photo at World Bird Sanctuary at a Camera Day that they were hosting.  This was a great opportunity for me to get a photo like this without any of the bird’s enclosure in the background.  The Bald Eagle is also the national bird of the United States, yet has faced a difficult time here in recent history.  While population numbers for this bird are moving in a positive way, there is still the need for some of them to live in sanctuaries.  While I love to see these birds in the wild, sometimes they are injured, brought to sanctuaries, and then unable to live again in the wild.  Eagles like this one I photographed, work to bring awareness to people of how they can help make sure that this birds thrive in the wild.

The theme this week is layers for the photo challenge at WordPress.  So this is my layered post: 1bird, 3 exposures; 1 post, 6 links.  One photograph, but many things to think about about, what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

I will admit to being a creature of habit when it comes to photography.  I like to photograph certain subjects and edit them in certain ways.  I also think that it can be good to try something new.  I think that if you try something and it doesn’t really work out, well then at least you have learned something. I take a lot of photographs of birds, one of my favorite places to go to get these images is the World Bird Sanctuary.  So, my photo for this week’s challenge is of a Bald Eagle:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/500

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/500

What I decided to do differently was in how I did my post-editing.  I had been working this past week on an animated GIF project that turned out fairly well.  What I had never really tried before is saving a single image as a GIF.  So in Photoshop I chose -save for web and then the GIF option in the dialogue box.  What I was going for was a more graphic version of this bird, so instead of saving it using all 256 colors, I choose to save using 32.  Here is the original version so you can see the difference:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/500

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/4 1/500

Did it work? in my opinion the answer is both yes and no, what do you think?  I’d love to hear your opinion below.

This post was written in part as a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit.  Check the link to see other interpretaions.

Cheers!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Scanning the) Horizon

This is a female Peregrine Falcon:

ISO 400 140mm 0ev f/5.6 1/500

ISO 400 140mm 0ev f/5.6 1/500

The peregrine falcon scans the horizon looking for prey while it is in flight.  When it  spots a potential meal it can dive at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.  You can tell this is a female by it colored breast feathers.  The link I have included shows a photo of a male.

This photo I took at World Bird Sanctuary, at one of their Camera Day events.  If you live or are visiting the St. Louis area on November 3rd, they will be hosting another event and it is a great opportunity to take photos of various birds of prey in a natural setting.  That was how I managed to get close enough to get this profile shot.

To get this photo I used a tripod.  I was working on a project that is a series of birds of prey in HDR.  In order to make the HDR image I used a series of three images with different exposures.  Combining them later into one image to bring out more detail in the bird.  I used my bracketing setting on my camera and also a very high shutter speed.  For this photo I wanted to have the background very blurred, in part because I wanted to have the viewer focus on the bird, and in part to honor the fact that these birds seem to be able to live with any sort of backdrop as their home.  They can be found nesting in vast open spaces and also very crowded cities.

This particular photo is a 5×7 card and a print, along with the rest of the series which is available for viewing here on my website.  I have also blogged about a few of the other photos.  Here are links for the Eastern Screech Owl, Long-Crested Eagle, Eurasian Eagle Owl, and the Barn Owl.

This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge which has horizon as a theme for this week.

What do you think of my peregrine falcon? Have you ever seen one of these beautiful birds in flight or diving?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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

Travel Theme: What color are your feathers?

The theme this week at Where’s My backpack? is multicolored.  I thought right away of this photo I have of an Eastern Screech Owl:

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

It has lovely colors but the interesting thing to me is that this bird can also have more of a grey bark color.  Same bird, but it depends on where it lives when it comes to what coloring it has in its feathers.  I have a link here to some information about the bird, and also a photo of the dramatically different way it can look.

As for this photo, I took it at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis. I added in the link in part because if you are in the area on November 3rd they are hosting a Camera Day.  On that day they will take many of their birds and place them in natural settings.  It is a great day to get photos.  I took the photo above on a camera day this past spring.

Speaking of this photo, it is actually three photos merged into one using HDR. So, I took three exposures, one dark, one light and one in the middle, and merged them together using Photomatix. In Photoshop I did a bit of sharpening and cropping.

This owl is part of a series that I did of birds of prey, they are here for viewing and purchase.  I have blogged about a few of the other photos too; the Long-crested Eagle, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, and the Barn Owl.

So what do you think of this little one? and it is a very small owl!  Feel free to leave comments below.

Cheers!

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