Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Wood Duck

Saturday, December 13th, 2014


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

Saturday, December 6th, 2014


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.


Autumn Leaves

Saturday, November 15th, 2014


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.


Saturday, November 1st, 2014


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

Saturday, October 25th, 2014


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.

Day 95 – Milkweed seeds

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


On my camera walk in North Mountain Park the other day I found bunches of milkweed seeds.  I may have to go back with the big girl camera as it was hard to get the degree of sharpness required for these beauties with the little one. Standard processing and yes I forced myself to forgo the Topaz Impression treatment.

Day 92 – Leaf

Sunday, September 28th, 2014


Here’s another leaf.  I processed this one in the usual way in Nik CEP, then I added a texture from the French Kiss Collection and did some blending and masking.  Finally, I took it into Topaz Impression where I selected the Cave Dweller II preset and did some tweaking. I’m not completely happy with it but the problem was that I shot the leaf on the grass where it lay and the grass made it hard to do a good job with the masking.  So, lesson learned, in my next round of leaf images I will lift them out of the grass for a cleaner look.

Day 84 – Mushroom

Saturday, September 20th, 2014


I went out to the back yard to photograph a fall blooming rose and noticed these toadstools in a shady area.  So I got down on my belly and started shooting.  I love the texture along the base and top of the mushroom.  This one was kind of chewed up on top like something took a couple of bite out of it but that was mostly disguised through selective framing and depth of field. Post processing was about as usual; detail, warmth, saturation and brighter center with darker edges.

Day 79 – Pinecone

Monday, September 15th, 2014


Still playing around with nature closeups.  This one I could see in my minds eye as really faded out so I turned to Topaz Black and White effects and selected the tea green falloff preset.  Then added a border.  There are so many ways to go with these it is fun and exciting and gets the creative juices flowing.  But I need to find some new material today!

Day 78 – Oak Leaf

Sunday, September 14th, 2014


I’m getting into the idea of botanicals.  This one came about as I was looking for a good blending mode for a texture.  I wasn’t trying for an off color result but I liked it so much I decided to go with it.