Iris Blooming

Iris_Blooming

Seems like forever since the NANPA Summit in San Diego but it was just this past Sunday that I wandered around the hotel grounds looking for some macro opportunities.  I found this Iris just poised to burst into bloom and loved the delicate patterns.

This was shot with the Fujifilm XT-1 with 18-135mm zoom and a 500D closeup filter. Post processing was about as usual, detail, brilliance warmth and a little lightening of the center and darkening of the edges.

Fern

Fern2

Well, the trip to the San Diego zoo has to be considered a complete bust. It seemed like all the animals were asleep or inaccessible for one reason or another and then, of course, I ran out of steam way before I had gotten my $48.00 worth. But then this week after sitting at the North American Nature Photography Association Summit listening to photographer after photographer talking about taking weeks or months to get one good shot in the wild I didn’t feel quite so bad.  At least I can show you some photos of sleeping animals.

But in the end I actually liked my plant photos better and this shot of a fern was my favorite. A little exposure adjustment, some detail and saturation and voila art. One thing I have enjoyed about the conference is also hearing photographer after photographer assure me that it is ok to use the software tools to create art.  So here you go.

Giraffes

Giraffes

The other day I did a webinar with a photographer/artist who it turned out was using alot of the same software I use to create painterly images of wildlife. I can’t say I learned anything new from her but I did get permission to carry on with what I am doing.

For this image I went back into the archives to review some of my zoo pictures. I’ve always liked the composition on this image but the lighting was off and there were distracting fences in the original image.  So, I went to work, starting with cropping out the fences.  Then brightened it up and took it into Topaz simplify for a more graphic look. My new test for whether I have a good image or not is would I hang it on my wall.  This one passes the test.

Trees in Fog

treesinfog

Driving south on Hwy 101 along the Oregon Coast I was taken with the graphic look of the trees in a light fog.  When I downloaded the image though it had gone completely monochrome.  So I decided to add back the color in my mind using a bi-color filter in Nik Color Efex pro. I’m very happy with the result.

Sandy Creek Bridge

Sandy_Bridge_VG

I’m still a long way from having all the images processed from my trip to the coast. But I did like this impressionistic view of the Sandy Creek Bridge from the trip over. My inner critic keeps telling me the subject it too close to the center but I couldn’t part with the pretty winter trees on either side of the bridge. Similarly, from a composition view point I would like to lose the piece of sky in the upper left corner but not enough to sacrifice the trees to cropping.

In post processing I edit out some trash in the foreground and some signs near the bridge. Then I did my usual tricks in Color Efex Pro (detail, saturation, warmth, darken edges.) Then I took it into Topaz Impression for a Van Gogh filter. I don’t know much about art techniques or Van Gogh but I keep coming back to this particular preset in Impression because it keeps things pretty realistic but at the same time softens the harshness of reality.

Bandon sunset

Bandon_sunset

Is there ever a bad sunset at the coast? This one was shot with a telephoto lens which I later regretted being my lens of choice as the whole sky burst forth in color after the sun sank below the horizon. Tonight, a wide angle!

In this image I was trying to celebrate the backlighting of the sun on the spray blowing off the breakers. The sun is setting just to my right but I wasn’t able to get it and the rocks and the breakers all in one shot.

In post processing I took it into Color Efex Pro where the detail extractor helped clear up some of haziness around the rocks. I used a perceptual saturation filter in brilliance warmth to give me a wider range of colors than just the golden of the original. And finally, a lighten center filter to give it a little more depth.

And now it is time to go out and catch the morning light.

Ferns

Ferns

Winter is definitely getting to me.  I have been wracking my brain for something to shoot in between rainstorms.  I finally thought I might try doing some black and white photography at the Japanese Gardens. But when I saw these ferns I knew they needed to be in color.

Post processing was in Color Efex pro with detail and brilliance/warmth added. I am not crazy about the branch in the upper right hand corner but I could not crop it without losing the best frond on the left.  I tried cropping it to 8×10 format but that took out the point of the bottom frond so I decided I would rather live with the branch.  It might be argued that it provides a stopping point for your eye to move back into the image.

Ti’lomikh Falls

Tilomikh

I wanted to start the new year off right by kicking off one of my new projects which involves photographing along the Rogue River from its headwaters to its mouth.   I started doing projects over 15 years ago (egad!). I have found that having a project gives me a focus for getting out in the field and shooting.  I began planning this project in New Mexico while dreaming about my return to Oregon. I’ve done a little scouting already and have gathered some maps and divided the river up into manageable segments.

Ti’lomikh falls is on the Shady Cove to Gold Hill segment, just upriver from Gold Hill. I did not know that we had world class whitewater so close to home and I will look forward to returning in hopes of getting a kayaker in the shot. And so it goes with projects. As I learn about my subject I get ideas for new and better images. I also have a good excuse to practice and improve my technique.

Which is a good thing. For example this image is not going to win any prizes but it is the best one I brought home that day. I almost went back the next day to shoot again because I thought about all the things I had done wrong. But I took a deep breath and promised to do better next time.  It is in the learning and remembering  and honing my skills that I can benefit from the project. Look for more from the Rogue River Project in the coming months.

To read more about past projects check out my website.

Cat – Image of the Year 2014

cropped-cat_simplified1.jpgI decided it was time for a new look for my weekly photo blog so here it is.  Let me know what you think.  After much editing and scrolling through files I finally settled on this as my favorite image of 2014. I like it for being simple and graphic with pleasing colors.  I had to manipulate the colors some to get this look and I used Topaz Simplify to give it a more painterly look.  And he gets the honor of being the poster cat for the blog this year.  Though I reserve the right to change him out if I get tired of looking at him.