Monday, March 31, 2014

Pelican Without His Briefs

Getting towards the bottom of the barrel of pictures that I took down in Florida.  This is a relatively colorful Pelican sitting on the rocks along the jetty in Venice, Florida.

The shot is cropped for my full HD monitor size (i.e., 1920x1080 pixels).    In order to get this size, however, I had to add approximately 100 pixels along the right vertical.  I wouldn't have thought that the water would be so difficult to clone, but it took several attempts.

The next shot is a closeup of the bird sized for 5x7 inch.

I like this better for the detail and the brighter color.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Getting Trippy

 I've been puzzled by the concept of texture blending in Photoshop.  To date, all of my attempts have been through using art filters like SnapArt to create painted effects on faux canvas.   After reading a bit more about it, however, I've come to see that there's more to it.  There always is.

One article on texture blending talked about using Photoshop layers to combine different photos.  The trick was in selecting an appropriate blend mode.

After a bit of experimenting, I settled on this monstrosity:

This is an overgrown pathway in Jelks Preserve that has been blended with on ocean sunset.  I used the Difference blend mode.  The result is quite garish, but the technique looks promising.  I'll have to keep my eye out for interesting textures to play with.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Legs Good

After several years of service, my trusty Dolica ProLine tripod got a broken leg release lever while I was down in Florida.  I tried to epoxy the lever back in place, but the weld could not stand the strain of use.  At first I thought that I could replace the leg -- replacement would cost around $20.  But I figured that with the age of the tripod, it could be a matter of time before another latch broke.  Reluctantly, I left the tripod behind in my mother's garage.

In shopping for a replacement after I got home, I was divided over buying a new Dolica or upgrading to something a bit more professional, such as the Manfrotto line.  Thinking I could save a few bucks, I looked around on eBay and found a nice looking Bogen Manfrotto 3221W.  That particular model has been discontinued, but it had great reviews.

The "W" in the model number indicates that this a wilderness model intended for wildlife and nature shooting.   Right up my alley.

The 3221W arrived at my home yesterday, and the first thing that struck me was the weight of the unit: ~six pounds!  Fortunately, this came with a nice carrying strap, and the weight on my shoulder is not all that bad.  I thought the "wilderness" designation emphasized its portability, but now I realize that it is really for its ruggedness.  This thing is build like a Soviet tank!

Here's an ersatz Polaroid shot of the legs with the bottom part of the carrying strap in place.  The release levers are solid.  The whole thing is solid.

 I'm also a little disappointed that this model doesn't have the low-angle adapter that is featured on the newer units.  For macro work, I'll have to either mount the camera upside-down on the center column or really splay the legs out.  Still, I can't wait to give this a try.  The real test will be in how I can transport this thing when I go biking.

One Good Tern

Best guess is that this is a Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica).  The Wikipedia entry for this bird says that the typical black cap on its head disappears in winter and mentions that there is a dark patch through the eye.  This sort of fits the bill.

This is pretty much a clean shot.  There's a nice "golden hour" glow to the plumage, as I had just arrived early to take sunset photos at the jetty in Venice, Florida.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sailor's Delight

I probably took 100 pictures of the sunset one evening at the jetty in Venice, Florida.  So it shouldn't come as too big a surprise that I had not closely inspected all of them.  In fact, I still haven't.

This shot came as a pleasant surprise:

I caught a bird silhouetted against the sunset.

This was shot with a Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens set at 1/1600 sec;   f/4.0;   ISO 100.

Not being able to leave well enough alone, I used Photoshop to normalize the Levels in the water portion.  I then made a copy of the sky, flipped it vertically, and then shrank it to fit over the water, adding a little bit of sunlight reflecting upon the water.  It's subtle, but I'm not sure it's effective.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meet Mr. Blue Sky

Meet the Blue Sky Vine (Thunbergia grandiflora) growing through a wood fence.  This was one of my first shots while down in Florida on vacation.  Till now, however, I did not know what it was.  A native to China, India, Nepal, Indochina and Burma, this beauty is being cultivated in Southwest Florida.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saint Hipster

Took a walk yesterday in the Oak Grove cemetery in Morgantown.  It was approaching evening's "golden hour," but the day was generally not conducive for photos.  Vandals seemed to have had their run of the place, as there were quite a few toppled monuments.  One nice statue was spared, and someone had given it a hat.  It's quite fetching:

This was shot with a Lensbaby Composer, which did a nice job of blurring the surrounding grave stones.  You can see the golden hour casting greeenish highlights on the side of the face of the good saint (Francis?).

I'd hoped that converting this shot to black & white would remove that greenish cast.  It did:

Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2 did a fine job, using the #15 preset -- Full Dynamic (harsh) setting with a faux Ilford 100 ISO film style.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Diet Aids

I've seen ads like this all over the web, and this is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see the phrase "Never Diet Again."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Was piddling around with some bird pictures from my vacation.  It's getting down to some of the more obscure, pedestrian, and challenging shots (all of the above).

Take this bird -- please!

It's bugging me that I cannot identify it.  Time to ask for help.  Best guess is that it's some kind of plover.

The picture has been worked over in Photoshop CS6.  Aside from the tiny touches of light and dark and miscellaneous sharpening, the real work is in the masking.

Once again, I'm re-learning how to create and apply mask effects.  In this case, I masked over the bird and the rock and then readjusted the ocean water, which started out more grayish and dull.

Got to say that the final product is pretty nice.   Now if I can just name that bird.


Meet the Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga).  According to Wikipedia, the word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.  When you see this bird in the water, the body is usually submerged, leaving just the long snake-like neck to view.

This bird was at the Venice, Florida, rookery pond.  I could be wrong here, but it looks like another bird has crapped on its tail.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lipstick on a pig

My mother's house in Southwest Florida doubles as a bird sanctuary.  This mooch was a periodic visitor while I was down there on vacation:

The Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) is an ugly sucker.  It came around when I had my SLR, but the shots were all situated around the driveway and sidewalk -- not that pretty at all.

Below is an experiment, where I isolated the bird from the background.  Rather than make a mugshot out of it, I tried a combination of Alien Skin Snap Art (Oil portrait on heavy canvas) and Nik Silver Fx Pro (vintage B & W).

It's like putting lipstick on a pig, but I had to try something.  ;-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

With Few (R)egrets

The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is hands-down one of my favorite photo subjects.  Here's a gallery of a few of the "easy" shots, i.e., ones that needed little or no work to render:

Once again, these are all from the rookery pond.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bleu Fleur

It's been many years since I've been in Florida in March.  I had hoped it would be closer to Spring and that there would be more flowers to photograph.  Alas, I was wrong.

These tiny blue flowers as yet unidentified appear to be Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis).  They grow along roadside ditches:

They're almost like Baby's Breath, but they grow on tall spikes.  The bloom is pretty in close-up:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chimpin' the Blues

Meet the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias).  I'm spending a couple of weeks at Warm Mineral Springs in Southwest Florida.  In nearby Venice is a bird sanctuary with a rookery pond.

I took these with a  200mm telephoto.  Note the couple of chicks in the lower photo.