Monday, May 28, 2012

Just got back from a wonderful weekend in Minneapolis, with the absolute delight of getting to see BOTH Dianna and my sweet brother, Lee.

A shot of the Science Museum Backyard . . .

And my favorite daughter:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dandelion Diva Extraordinairre

Sure, you're gorgeous and beautiful, with your flamboyant, dancing, flowery-ness . . .

. . . but I picked you anyway!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ironing Fun

The Joys of Ironing and other fun Saturday household chores. . . .

. . . and what did YOU do today?

(I can see seamless paper looming in my future! Maybe for my birthday????)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lens Correction, Camera Raw, & LAB mode= Magic

Those of you who have read my blog for while know I am a big fan of LAB mode editing. Every once in a while I stray from this, and just don't find many others who like to dabble in it, but then I'm just drawn back to it, especially with summer shots.

OK, first things first. I'm going to show you some magic. And the best way to see it, is to first see the Not Magic.

This is the Not Magic ugliness of an unedited Camera Raw photo. Bland. Boring. Pituii!

But I really wanted you to see a specific correction you can do in Camera Raw that I just discovered and am amazed by! Compare these two photos (click on one of the photos, and then compare them in the little slide show that pops up); ignore for a moment the color tweaking and sharpening, and just look at what seems to happen to the dimensions of the photo, moving from the top photo to this second.

Camera Raw has a tab,6 tabs to the right of the main screen, labelled "lens corrections." Click on it, and then click on "enable lens correction." The program pulls up the correction for the specific lens you used for your shot, and corrects the distortions, like magic! It's almost as if there was a "bubble" in the middle of the photo, and it gets "ironed out" and correctly flattened with this adjustment!

Next, I adjust a few things in Camera Raw, like color balance, exposure, and pull it into Photoshop. The 2nd layer of magic now begins. I go to "image", "mode" and change the photo to "LAB mode" instead of RGB. I do a levels adjustment, and then a curves adjustment, adjusting opacity as desired. Had I wanted the sky to retain more of the "blue", I could have allowed for that, but thought it really reflected the underexposure of the straight Camera Raw.  I just do a minor tweak, not the much more extensive and brilliant work of Harold Davis.  Then, flatten, convert back to "RGB" (image>mode>RGB), sharpen and save.

And this was a guy I spotted sitting on a bench, creating a little pottery figure. I was impressed!

Next up, finally, we get to Animal Kingdom!

Left-Leaning Birds

Is there a rule, that these birds must face left, just before sunset? Or do they just lean left, politically?

And sunset in the Everglades. But returning to shore meant massive mosquitoes. Little, but abundant. . . . and biting! (And how did they manage to fill our car?. . . . but at least they were not the vultures Dianna read about. Vultures that would eat the rubber off our tires while we drifted along, lulled by the little birdies. . . . . )

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Umbrella Stand and Backdrop

I'm very excited about what the UPS man brought to our house recently! In the Adorama boxes were a light stand, a Westcox 60" umbrella, and the universal umbrella clamp.

On the right side of the photo, you can see the umbrella stand, umbrella, and attached flash.  And in front of the window, directly in front of the camera on the tripod, is the backdrop stand that Doug helped me create.  Basically, we bought  pvc piping, sawed some of it in pieces, drilled holes, bought elbow connectors, and hung a shower curtain on it. Unfortunately, there are some vertical stripes in the shower curtain. It works well enough when I blow out the background in processing. I think I need a few more holes in the pvc piping to have more options for the height, and might try some other kinds of material for the backdrop.

Oh, and the weird little toys on the floor, including the shredded stuffed animals, all belong to Ruby.

I'm slowly working my way through Zach Arias "One Light" DVDs on external flash, and Neil van Niekerk's book, "Off-Camera Flash."

So little time, so much to shoot! (But then, Doug says that too, but about squirrels!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tree Peony

Guess what this is! I am so excited about this, and spent much time this weekend, putting it together, experimenting with this, along with something else I made using PVC piping.

And this, along with some other plants, also took up a good chunk of time this weekend: A Tree Peony

This was more difficult to photograph than I expected, because of the wind. I'd read about tree peonies several years ago, but could not find them locally until this year. And I'm hoping this will take as well to my yard as the peony bushes have. Although, sadly, it may have just a brief period of blooming if it is also like the regular peony bushes. But she was way to pretty to pass up.

By the way, check out this podcast for Harold Davis' ideas on photographing flowers:   Just brace yourself for hearing the phrase "Okey-Dokee!"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Ever! I am Special!

It's only fair play; if I'm going to post photos of my loved ones hither and yon, then sometimes I should let them take photos of me and post them too.

So here's some terrible shots of me in a swim suit!!!!! at Vero Beach, in the pool, taken by the lovely Dianna. It's not her fault, but note the incredibly wrinkly nose look of me and terrible hair. The crinkly nose laughter is because the water was freakin' cold and Dianna was the smart one who Would Not Get In!

And note the intense, almost neon, paleness of North Dakotans in the Florida sunshine. By the way, the water bubbles are ONLY DOUG'S EFFORTS TO MOVE HIS ARMS TO KEEP WARM! But then he did his wonderful husbandly duty of lending me some of his body heat. What a guy!

And this last shot is MY VERY FIRST EVER SENIOR DISCOUNT MOVIE TICKET! Now THAT makes me REALLY like Florida! They start movie discounts at 55 (a number long-gone for me). But I'll let you in on a little secret. In Grand Forks, regular movies in the evening are only $6.

This movie was excellent, by the way. Totally creepy, prepare for nightmares, but it's also extremely funny. Creepy and funny makes for a good recipe. As I mentioned before, all 3 of us had nightmares that night. One could not remember their nightmare; one dreamed about being eaten by vampires, and the other dreamed she/she was the perpetrator of murders, passed off as an art project. Names are not revealed to protect her/her reputation.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

6 Versions of Dianna in a Boat in the Everglades

I played with editing this photo. First, I tried a bleached-sunny look, following instructions I found on a site on the web. I don't particularly like this one:

Hmmmm . . . I like this one a tad more. After my usual raw edit, I changed this to Lab mode, boosted the color and lightness, then switched back to RGB, and added some more editing with Rad Lab.

Next, I just used an action called "Booster Baby."

Next, I dusted off an old action, Color Wash, and I liked this effect. If you're like me, you have a good stash of actions that just sit unused, moping and struggling with abandonment issues, in Photoshop.

This one was done in Rad Lab only, just brightening and adding some saturation:

And then for the simplest edit of all, just some edits in Raw:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Birds, and Birds, and Some More Birds

My apologies to the real birders among you. This is like pearls before swine; I'm not sure what these birds are. Do you know?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spoonbills and Sandpipers

Don't you sometimes feel that the little ones are just underfoot, when you are trying to get something done?

But we have it made, compared to these Spoonbills in the Florida Everglades!

Look at all these Sandpipers, crowding around!

I don't know how these Spoonbills keep from stepping on all the little Sandpipers.

They were noisy, too! And somehow, I imagine that none of these creatures have body space issues!

And they were surprisingly calm about our boat edging its way very close to them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Birds, Hard at Work in the Everglades

These birds were not on vacation.

This one was busy keeping a close watch on us.

This one was on nest duty:

And this bird plucked dinner out of the waters. . .

. . . and then sat and considered how to prepare dinner. Saute or baked? Or just gobble it down whole?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Everglades Photography Birding Tour

On Saturday, after "evacuating" Disney's Vero Beach, we headed down to Miami, and found a delicious Cuban restaurant. I wish I remembered the names of this food (of course, I know "rice" and "black beans"), but most certainly I remember that it was delicious!

In the morning, we explored a little, particularly this Cuban open-air market, El Palacio del Jugos.

I love the colors of such markets! I could photograph there all day, but. . . well. . . . I get a little self-conscious, particularly as my family flees in horror from me. I always see foods that I'd like to just sort of discretely nibble on to see what they taste like, but I'd probably get thrown in jail or have dogs sigged on me. . . .

This next photo was NOT in the market! By noon, we started heading west from Miami, driving along and through the Everglades. We stopped along the roadside to look down into a creek and saw these little cutie-pies (in a matter of speaking!). Doug says they are alligators, but I am still not clear on the difference between alligators and crocodiles. We were told that this part of Florida is the only place in the world, however, that has both.

We walked along a trail a bit, and I was delighted to see these air plants on the trees. And they don't look like they'd bite.

Next, we started our Birding/Photography boat tour. A guide took Doug, Dianna, and me out into the everglades. We discovered that we were actually in the coastal Everglades rather than inland Everglades, which meant we would be seeing sea water flora and fauna.

And we did see birds!

Doug is more interested in birding than I am, but I like any chance I can get to photograph something. Doug things this first bird is a heron. (He said herring, but I think that's a fish!) And these next two are photos of White Ibis.

Tomorrow, I'll show you Spoonbills. They were my favorite!