Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Changing Backgrounds



 Ideally when we take pictures of wildlife, there will be an attractive background, maybe a nice blue sky or something like that.  Often, however, that's just not the case.  What do we do then?   Do we go ahead and take the picture and use it as is or do we do some creative PhotoShopping?  Well, it depends.  If you're shooting for a magazine or another entity that requires accurate reporting, you have to use the original background and hope for a better one next time.   If you're wanting to create an attractive art piece, however, you might do as I did here and change the background.  Of course, these two pictures aren't identical, but they were taken at the same time and had the same background.  I looked through my sky folder and found a sky that I thought would enhance the pictures of the Harris Hawk.  I simply slid the sky picture on top of the hawk picture, lowered the opacity so I could see what I was doing, and used a mask to reveal the hawk.  I raised the opacity back to 100% to finalize the picture.


Some people have a problem with photographers changing backgrounds, cloning out problem areas in a photo, etc., but I think that when you're trying to create a piece of art you should be able to make the picture the way you want to see it.   Let's call it "creative license".  It gives us the opportunity to create something unique, something that is truly ours.  Did you know that Ansel Adams altered his photos?  The difference is, he did it in the darkroom and it probably took him a lot longer than it takes us today.   So, whether you agree with altering photos or not, I consider it a lot of fun and will continue playing.  Have a great day!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Memories


Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun.  Our grandsons were 8 and almost 5 when I took this picture of one of their "tailgate" picnics in Yellowstone.  It was crowded and there wasn't always a picnic table available, so we'd just open the back of the pickup and let the boys have a tailgate picnic. It's one of their favorite memories of Yellowstone.  They're 15 and 18 now and when they went to Yellowstone with us last year they wanted another "tailgate picnic".   It doesn't take much to make a child happy.  Sometimes they just want to hang out with their grandparents.  Those are such special times.  If you have young children or grandchildren enjoy them while you can.  The days will fly by and they'll be grown before you know it.   Treasure the days and treasure the memories. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happiness is the Key to Life


"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down 'happy'.  They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand like."  John Lennon

I think happiness is the key to life, but what makes us happy varies by individual and by different times in our lives.  What makes me happy today may not be the same thing that made me happy when I was younger.  Often just finding something simple to photograph like this picture of an interesting window is enough to make me happy.  I like simple things like listening to the birds sing, sitting next to a river, watching wildlife or looking at a beautiful scene.  What makes you happy?  Is it the same thing that made you happy when you were younger? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fun in HDR

The finished version

Two stops darker        Using the camera's exposure        Two stops lighter 

I took these pictures of this bright green house while on my recent Route 66 road trip.   There was enough difference between the highlights and the shadows that I decided to do a handheld HDR.   I set the camera on AEB and took three shots, one exposed as the camera said, one two stops darker and the other two stops lighter.  I then processed the pictures in NIKs HDR program.  One of the processing options was highly textured, which I liked on the house, but not on the rest of the picture.  I completed the HDR process, but wasn't pleased with the result, so I lighten the original darker picture to get a nice sky and then moved that picture on top of the HDR version.  I then used the mask feature and used a brush at 100% to bring the texture back on only the house.   The result is exactly what I wanted, a nice blue sky in the background and a highly texture green brick house.

If you haven't tried HDR, give it a try sometime.  Be careful, though, because it's so easy to over-do it and then, instead of just pulling back the highlights and bringing out the details in the shadows you may end up with something that looks like it was from a spooky movie.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He Is Risen



"There are only two ways to live your life.   One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."  Albert Einstein

He is risen.   I hope you have a wonderful Easter with friends and/or family.  Enjoy the day!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Look at the Positives


I found this message on Facebook this morning and thought I'd share it with you.
"Life is short, live it to the max, have no regrets, laugh often, give generously, smile more than you frown, look at the positives and not the negatives, don't judge others.  Be happy!"

If we all lived according to these directions, we'd probably be a lot happier.  I know sometimes things happen that makes it difficult to have a good attitude.  How we think and our attitude about what happens to us effects our outlook so much that it's important to try to find that silver lining when life starts to get you down.  So, look on the bright side and enjoy life.

Just FYI, the first picture here was enhanced with Topaz Impression2.  The second version had only minor adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and the message.

Have a great week-end and a wonderful Easter!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Questions


The Dean of Education at Harvard University was on the early news show this morning.  Last year he gave a talk at the commencement and he told the graduates that, in his opinion, they would have happier, more fulfilling and more successful lives if they asked themselves the following questions before making decisions.

Wait, what?
I wonder?
Could we at least . . .?
How can I help?
What truly matters?

As we travel down live's pathways we have to make many decisions, some trivial and others very important.  Perhaps if we took the time to ask ourselves these questions it would at least ensure that we slowed down and thought about things before taking action.    Perhaps it would also inspire us to make decisions that created a more positive impact in our lives and the lives of others.  What do you think?