Birds

Birds

I was all excited the other day because it was sunny and I was finally going to get to go out and shoot. Then the fog rolled in.  So I decided to just do a camera walk around the neighborhood and see what I could do with the fog. The first thing I saw where these birds on the power lines so I just went to do a grab shot and one of the birds started to fly away. Well, there is a school of thought that photography is about capturing a moment in time and this image surely does that.  Since it was already close to monotone I went ahead and took it to full black and white by removing the saturation.  I also cropped it to put the flying bird at the power point and eliminate some other birds.  I like the simple graphic look of this image. I like that the two birds on the wires are facing in opposite directions and I like the diagonal lines. But it is the bird in flight that makes the image for me.

Fog on Mountains

Fog

It wasn’t much of a week for photography and I fear next week will be worse but I did get fascinated by the play of light and fog on the hills outside my window and ran outside with camera in hand for a few minutes. I did a little cropping and added some luminence and vibrance in lightroom.  Then I took it into Color Efex Pro and played around for awhile before deciding the Polaroid transfer filter gave me the look I wanted…complete with edgy border.

Wood Duck

Wood_Duck2

I have wanted to see and photograph these beautiful birds ever since I knew of their existence. So, when I read that wood ducks like to hang out in Lithia Park in the winter I could hardly believe it. But I packed up the new camera anyway and headed right down there. I got out of the car to do a scouting trip and almost immediately did a 180 back to the car to get the camera because they were there.  I shot a number of frames of ducks on shore before they got spooked and headed into the water. But that was OK because I really wanted a water shot. Well, easier said than done. The cloudy winter light was flat and in order to get a shutter speed fast enough to stop the motion of the swimming ducks (those puppies move fast!) I had to crank the ISO up to 1600. This one was a little noisy and dull out of the camera. So, I applied some noise reduction and clarity in Lightroom. Then took it into Nik CEP for detail and brightening.  It still seemed a little off and I almost rejected this one for an onshore shot as image of the week.  But then I decided to try one more thing and took it into Photoshop to add a little saturation and that did the trick.  I’m still thinking to go back with the long lens and “big girl” camera as soon as we get a break in the weather.

Pine Siskins

pine_siskins

I have been threatening for some time to trade my Canon EOS-M in for a Fujifilm XT-1.  Well Black Friday finally pushed me over the edge and it arrived on Thursday complete with 18-135mm lens (that’s 27 to 206 in 35mm terms). I decided to go for the single zoom lens because the whole point is to lighten the load. But I did also get a 60mm macro lens to support my macro habit. So, I found these birds at a local park and the lens did pretty well at 135 though I am now thinking of going back with the “big girl camera” and long lens to do some more intimate portraits of these little guys.

My overall impressions of the XT-1 after two days of shooting?  Love it. It has almost all the capabilities of my Canon 7D at about half the weight.  My one big frustration at this point is the awkwardness of selective focus which requires a function key to operate and does not stay active very long.  I have also had difficulty getting the camera to focus on small subjects, like birds for example, and have to switch into manual focus all too often.  At least that is not too difficult to accomplish.

I love the many dials on the XT-1 which allow for quick adjustments, unlike the EOS-M where everything is electronic.  But there are so many dials and switches on the outside of the camera that the learning curve is a bit steep and I still have some work to do to get to full speed with the camera.

I also bought an Oben Carbon Fiber tripod which folds to about 15″ and weighs about 2 and a half lbs. Ideal for traveling and much nicer for carrying around than the old Manfrotto. It is not sturdy enough for the 7D and long lens but that is OK, I will keep the old one for those rare occasions when I need that.  And the EOS-M? It’s working just fine as an in my purse go everywhere camera.  But I think the XT-1 is going to be my new workhorse.

 

Summer Flowers

Cone_flower_Impression

It’s that time of year when it is hard to find a good weather window to go out and shoot and the over 5000 images I have in my files from this year are nagging at me.  So, this week I started the process of sifting through and deleting those with no redeeming value and processing those with potential. This shot from North Mountain Park back in August benefited from a little cropping and an impressionist filter from Topaz Impression.

Mount McLoughlin

MtMcL

One of the things I’ve missed most in being away from Oregon is the beauty of the snow capped Cascade volcanoes. Southern Oregon’s own Mount McLoughlin has been looking pretty sad and bare all summer but now the snow has returned to the higher elevations and the Mountain is looking quite glorious on this rare sunny November day north of Medford. I did basic post processing in Color Efex Pro and that’s it.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn_leaves

I had to take another trip to Lithia Park this week and it was still stunning though perhaps past peak. I wanted to share a macro image in contrast to last week’s landscape though I again had many beautiful images of both genres to choose from. Beautiful as these leaves were they were a little dirty and scuffed around the edges so it seemed appropriate to give them an impressionistic treatment. This served to soften many of the flaws. Before Topaz Impression I also put it into Nik Color Efex pro for detail and a center light.  I also did some work with the spot healing brush and content aware fill to eliminate some distractions.

Van Gough meets Lithia Park

JG_Lithia3_VG

I thought that being in the throes of moving I had completely missed fall color this year but a post from a fellow photographer alerted me to the fact that Lithia Park in Ashland was still putting on a pretty good show. It was hard to pick an image of the week there was so much color and inspiration just in the Japanese Garden.  But I liked this impressionistic treatment from Topaz Impression using a Van Gough look. My self criticism here is that I probably should have had the bench further to the left so it is not looking out of the image.  On the other had that may just give it a different dynamic.

Acorn

Acorn

I have been up to my ears in unpacking and feathering my new nest this week.  So, I came up empty on the image of the week front. So, this morning I decided to put everything else on hold and go for a camera walk. I had in mind an old barn I had seen not far from my house but it turned out to be too far from the path for a good shot. But not far away I spotted this beautiful old oak tree in the midst of changing for autumn and clinging to a few acorns. I slapped on my 500D closeup lens (thank you Charles Needle for that tip) and went to town. There were several good options but I thought this one did the best job of capturing the essence of fall acorn-ness. In post I cropped some to reduce bright sky on the edges, then took it in to NIK color efex pro for the usual treatments: detail, saturation, highlight on the acorn.  Back in Photoshop I cropped and darkened the corners just a bit more.

Autumn Leaf

yellow_leaf

Another week of moving with little time for photography.  I did pause for a few minutes to photograph this beautiful leaf.  I like the color of the moss it was sitting on but the detail was just too distracting so I ended up adding a texture to soften the background.  I think I could have spent more time on it but the boxes are calling to be unpacked.