Sunday, April 30, 2017

After It's Gone

I copied this from one of my Facebook friends and thought it was worth sharing.

Five things you will never recover in life . . .
1.  A stone after it's thrown.
2.  A word after it's said.
3.  An occasion after it's missed.
4.  Time after it's gone.
5.  Trust after it's lost.

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?  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Moving


"If you can't fly, run.  If you can't run, walk.  If you can't walk, shuffle.  But by all means, keep moving."  I'm not sure who wrote this, but I found it in "From the Heart", which is published by a local cardiovascular group.   I think it's good advice.  I need to start doing that more often.   How about you?  Are you active enough on a regular basis to keep your heart healthy?  If not, join me in moving more.  We'll all feel better for it.  Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sunset


There's nothing like a nice sunset.  We were driving back from watching a grizzly bear on a carcass in the Yellowstone River in Haden Valley when this nice sky appeared in front of us.  There was really no good place to stop, so I just shot it through the windshield of the car.  That's not the best thing to do, but sometimes it's the only way to get the shot.

I used Topaz Impression2 on the top picture to give it a dreamy effect.  The bottom picture had very little editing.  Just minor adjustments in ACR and a little help from NIK Color Efex.  A photographer friend asked if I knew how to get some of the painterly effects that I use just by using Photoshop.  I'm sure they can all be created in PhotoShop, but it's much easier to just select the presets in a plug-in and then do whatever alterations you need after that in order to make it your own.  Sometimes I can figure out how to create the effects in PhotoShop and other times I can't, especially if it's painterly effect with a lot of variations in brushwork, etc.   For this picture, however, all you'd really have to do is to soften the picture a little using the Gaussian Blur and then use levels to lighten it a little.  The real painterly effects would take a lot more work and time.   Which version do you prefer?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Adding Textures


I decided to play around with different backgrounds today and apply one of them to a picture that I took last December when I visited an old, historic mansion with a friend of mine.   The original picture only had minor editing in Adobe Camera Raw, so that's pretty much how the carafe and glasses looked.  Here's what I did to the altered picture.   After making only standard adjustments in ACR in Lightroom, I added a background to the image.  I did this by opening the background I was going to use, moved the background onto the normal picture and used the transform tool to enlarge the background to be the same size as the original picture.   I then lowered the opacity, so I could see the objects, created a mask and then removed the background from the carafe and the glasses.  I then raised the opacity back up to 100%.   I used NIK's Darken/lighten edges to create a slight vignette to draw a little more attention to the carafe and the glasses.  I then used levels to lighten the picture just a little, used NIK DeNoise to remove some of the noise and then flattened the image.  I kept a PSD file with some of the layers in case I want to make changes.  I love playing around in Lightroom and Photoshop to see what changes I can make to enhance images.   Some of you will like the changes and others probably won't.  As they say beauty, and I'll add creativity, is in the eyes of the beholder.  So, find an image that you think you could improve by adding a background and see what you can create.  If you want to share the image with me, I'd be glad to see it.  Have a wonderful day and have fun playing in Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Allure of the Sea


"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in the net of wonder forever."
Jacques Cousteau

My husband and I have visited Hawaii a few times.  One of my favorite things to do there is to just sit and watch the waves crash against the rocks.  It's absolutely spell-bounding!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Horses


I had horses when I was in grade school and high school, and really like them, so you'd think they'd like me too.   According to my experience, however, they don't.   Every time I want to get a picture of one it puts its head down, just like in this photo.  Unfortunately, most of the time I can't hang around until they decide to raise their heads.   I'm sure they have to at some point, but you couldn't prove it by me.  Oh well, I guess I'll continue to take pictures of them anyway. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Textures


"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."  Isaac Asimov

A lot of scientific research has been done in Yellowstone National Park.  This picture is of some of the microbes at Midway Geyser Basin.  Research on some of the microbes found in Yellowstone may one day help scientists find cures for diseases or lead them to other important discoveries.  Having scientific research done without the backing of the government is liking paying for an antibiotic when you're sick and then not taking it.  It doesn't really do much good.  We need scientists desperately, now maybe more than ever before, but we need politicians who are willing to listen to the results of their research.   After significant research, if the scientists say that an insecticide, medicine, pollutant or whatever will cause damage to people or that the things we're doing is causing damage to our environment they need to be taken seriously and not merely dismissed.  I really don't intend to turn this blog into a political forum, but I am worried that our politicians aren't giving credence to the scientists who are working for the good of mankind and wanted to share my views.  If you agree, please contact your legislators and ask that they vote in favor or our environment, our wildlife and our health.

Ok, enough with politics!  If you love viewing or photographing textures, Midway Geyser Basin and Black Sand Geyser Basin are two of the best places to find interesting textures in Yellowstone.  They look like they've come from another world.  A few years ago one of my workshop participants wasn't really that interested in photography and was just coming along with his spouse.  That was until he started walking around at Midway.  He was so entranced with it that he was the last one to leave the area.  He now really likes photography and his wife told me that I had "created a monster".  That's what I like to hear when I'm doing workshops, that someone who wasn't "that" interested in photography ends up loving it.  Things like that make it all worthwhile!  I love sharing my love for Yellowstone with other people and if my love for Yellowstone helps to turn someone on to photography that makes it even better.    Have a great day!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dance, Love, Sing


"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."
William W. Purkey

This is one of my favorite quotes, I think because I know that a lot of people don't do the things they want to do because they think they aren't good enough, that someone will laugh at them, that they'll get hurt, etc.  If we live like that, are we really living?  We have to take chances and do the things we want, even if it scares us a little.  I'm not saying that we should live recklessly, just that we should really live.   I hope you're having a great week-end and are doing something you enjoy! 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Man Is Not Himself Only















Man is not himself only . . . He is all that he sees; all that flows to him from a thousand sources . . . He is the land, the lift of its mountain lines, the reach of its valleys.  Mary Austin.

I guess what Mary Austin is saying here is that what makes us up, our very being, is influenced and is a part of everything around us.  So, I guess it would make sense to try to be around things that are beautiful and uplifting.  If we surround ourselves with darkness, sadness and despair doesn't it make sense that it would have a negative effect on us?   I think it does, but there are some people who can't change their surroundings for one reason or another.  For those people, perhaps listening to beautiful music, watching uplifting movies or surrounding themselves with as much beauty as possible could help to improve their lives at least in a small way.  I think doing those things is probably good for all of us anyway.  I know that when I'm stressed out or in a bad mood, if I put on headphones and listen to my favorite songs it improves my mood and makes the world seem like a better place.   So, do something nice for yourself whether it's listening to music, watching a good movie, cuddling up with your significant other or just hanging out.  Try to surround yourself with beautiful things.  It can't hurt!  :-)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Finding Yourself



"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."  Mahatma Gandhi

Doing things for others doesn't only help that person, it also helps you.  It improves your sense of well-being and contributes to a happier, more productive life.   It gives you a sense of purpose, a reason for living.  Being engaged with other people, whether in a volunteer or social setting is important to several aspects of our lives, including our physical and mental health.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I Love This World!



I am in love with this world . . . I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings. John Burroughs

I know I've posted this photo before, but I thought it was very appropriate for this quote by John Burroughs, so I decided to share it again.  This picture was taken a couple of years ago with my iPhone at Red Rock Refuge, which is just a few miles west of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  If you're in the area, and have some extra time, be sure to check it out.

I hope you enjoy the blog and are having a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"The Earth Beneath My Feet"


"What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!"  Helen Keller

I love sitting next to streams, listening to the soft sounds of the water falling over rocks, rushing to an end destination.  When photographing streams I sometimes use a fast shutter speed to stop the motion of the water and show the tremendous power that it possesses.  Other times, like in this case, I use a slow shutter speed to alter reality by slowing the motion of the water to create a soft, gentle look.  Creating the "soft water" look is my favorite method of shooting waterfalls and streams, but I usually shoot them both ways for those who prefer to see the individual droplets of water.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Moments That Take Our Breath Away


"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  Maya Angelou

I've always like this quote and I think there's a lot of truth to it.  If we  go through life just breathing, working and taking care of business are we really living or merely existing?  As busy as our lives are today it's very difficult to slow down enough to enjoy the everyday things that happen, like a baby's first smile or the joy of the family dog when he's catching that
far-flung frisbee.  In spite of how busy you are, try to take some time for yourself every day and just do something you enjoy.  Maybe you'll only have time for a few minutes, but it will still make a difference in your sense of well-being and your satisfaction with your life.

The first picture here was enhanced using Topaz Impression 2, because one of the things I enjoy is playing with my images to see what I can create, how I can alter reality to create a special feeling or impression.   The second picture was edited only in Adobe Camera Raw in Lightroom.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and will start spending a little time each day focusing on something that you enjoy.  Start today and see if you can find some small pastimes that will take your breath away, even if only for a moment.

The Mind is Everything!

"The mind is everything.  What you think, you become."  Buddha

I agree with Buddha.  If you think you will be successful, you will be.  If you think you're going to fail, you will.   Many of the decisions we make in life will determine the outcomes we'll have, good or bad.   So, when you're planning your day, your week or your year, think about how those decisions  will impact the rest of your life.  That being said, however, you can always change things to improve your situation in life.   Just by changing the way you react to things or the way you think about your future can have a tremendous impact on how your life will turn out.  Start today.  Think about what you want to become and then do it.  Have a great day!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Explore, Dream, Discover - The Sky's Your Limit

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover." –Mark Twain

So, follow Mark Twain's advice.  Get out there, do the things you really want to do and have fun!  Don't leave anything on your bucket list when you're done!  The sky's your limit! 

By the way, I did use a slight oil painting effect from Blake Rudis on this picture of the mountains.  I liked the original, but wanted to add a little bit of a dreamy effect to the picture.   I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Soda Butte Lodge


This is an old lodge in Cooke City, Montana.  I've taken several pictures of it through the years, but have never processed one in black and white.  I decided it was about time to try that.
I processed this image in Lightroom using only Adobe Camera Raw.  Here are the steps I took:
I used the eye dropper tool to get the correct white balance (I hadn't yet decided to convert it to black and white at that point).
I held down the shift key and double clicked on first the white and then the black to set my white and black points.
I then tweaked the exposure just a little to bring out a darker sky.
I opened the shadows up a little using the shadow slider.  I also used the adjustment brush on the inside of the house to open those shadows up just a little more.
I moved the clarity slider up just a little.
I added some contrast.
I hit the "v" key to turn the photo to black and white.
I added a little more clarity and then I was done.
This lodge now looks quite a bit different.  One side is almost completely gone.  When you see something that interests you be sure to take a picture of it because the next time you see it (if you do) it may look totally different.  I have pictures of this lodge with the walls all standing, with one of them bulging way out and with one of them mostly gone.  It's been interesting watching the progress of the decay of this wonderful old building.  I wish someone had taken care of it or restored it.  Too much history has been lost through decay and neglect.  There's nothing I can do about that, though, so I'll just take pictures to document what happens and enjoy the history that I'm able to capture.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Altering Reality


Adding texture or a painterly effect to pictures can be done in various plug-ins.  This one was created in Topaz Impressions 2.  If you don't want to buy plug-ins, you can also create a painterly effect by using various filters in PhotoShop such as the blur tool, the Iris filter, etc.  You won't get the same effect, but you will be altering the reality of the photo and creating something that is uniquely yours.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Live YOUR Life!


I never listened to the group Sting much, but here's a quote from one of them that I think makes sense.  "Be yourself, no matter what they say."   If we pretend to be something that we're not, we cannot function completely, efficiently or honestly.  In order to succeed, we must be ourselves, be true to our beliefs and lead the life that we were meant to live.  Another similar quote that I really like comes from the Shakespeare play Hamlet - "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."  If you're not being yourself, and living as you were meant to live, you aren't really being truthful with yourself or with anyone else.  So, go out today and live the good life.  Live YOUR life!  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Walk With Nature



For my blog post today I thought I'd share a quote with you from John Muir.  "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."    I think the reason this is true is because in nature everything is a surprise, an opportunity for a new beginning.  You never know what you're going to find and that's part of the joy of it, at least it is for me.  As you probably know, I spend a lot of time in Yellowstone.  One of the things that I really enjoy about it is that I never know what I'll find.  Maybe sometimes I'll find a grizzly bear, which is just wonderful, but other times I may not find anything other than the beauty that nature provides for us.  No matter what I find, it's always a wonderful experience.  So, if you're feeling a little down or a little bored, get up out of that chair and take a walk.  You'll be glad you did!   Have a great day!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring!


When you're photographing objects it's always good to have an uneven number.  Unfortunately I couldn't do that with this picture because there wasn't another flower in the right place.  Sometimes in nature, you just have to take what you can get.  

May you have warm days, cool nights, a purpose to your life and someone to love.  Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's Almost Baby Time in Yellowstone


It won't be long before we see bull elk marching through the wild flower meadows of Yellowstone.   In early June, the elk cows will begin to drop their babies.  Watching those little calves trying to run around when their legs aren't quite strong enough to do it, is always great fun.   The cows usually keep the calves pretty well hidden for the first three weeks, but a couple of years ago a cow and her calf were hanging out just across the Madison River, so we got to watch them quite frequently.  I'm hoping we'll get to experience that again this year.  It won't be long before it's time for the babies of Yellowstone to start appearing.  What fun!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Act Establishing Yellowstone - SAVE OUR PARKS



I don't wan't to get into political discussions here, but I did want to share information about the congressional act that established Yellowstone.  In today's political climate, I am very concerned about the future of our parks and that's why I'm sharing this information.  I hope that Yellowstone, and our other parks, are never harmed for political or financial reasons. I live close to Yellowstone, am in the park a lot and do photo tours in the park so I can share my love of the park with others.  I hope that our legislators protect our parks, so future generations can enjoy them also.  It doesn't matter who you voted for, or if you're Republican or Democrat, if you care about our parks, please ask your legislators to protect them.
Here's Sec 2 of the act that established Yellowstone. If you're interested in reading the rest of the act, you can google it, but this is the most important section.  Act Establishing Yellowstone National Park (1872)


SEC 2. That said public park shall be under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior, whose duty it shall be, as soon as practicable, to make and publish such rules and regulations as he may deem necessary or proper for the care and management of the same. Such regulations shall provide for the preservation, from injury or spoliation, of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within said park, and their retention in their natural condition. The Secretary may in his discretion, grant leases for building purposes for terms not exceeding ten years, of small parcels of ground, at such places in said park as shall require the erection of buildings for the accommodation of visitors; all of the proceeds of said leases, and all other revenues that may be derived from any source connected with said park, to be expended under his direction in the management of the same, and the construction of roads and bridle- paths therein. He shall provide against the wanton destruction of the fish and game found within said park, and against their capture or destruction for the purposes of merchandise or profit. He shall also cause all persons trespassing upon the same after the passage of this act to be removed therefrom, and generally shall be authorized to take all such measures as shall be necessary or proper to fully carry out the objects and purposes of this act.





Friday, March 17, 2017

Drawing Attention to Your Image

There are a lot of things you can do to draw attention to your subject, both when you're taking the picture and when you're editing it.

When I was processing this picture of an animal at Fossil Rim in Texas, I cropped it so it wasn't sitting in the center of the photo and then I used the Darken/Lighten Center option in the NIK Software Collection.  By lighting the animal the viewer's eye is immediately drawn to the subject.  

If you don't currently use the NIK Software, you can download it for free.  Just Google NIK Software and you'll find it.  There are a lot of options and it's really fun to use it to enhance images.

Please feel free to leave comments.  I'd like to know what you'd like to see here.

Thanks and have a great day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yellowstone Visitors

It may be snowy now, but soon all the gates to Yellowstone will be open and the crowds will be
pouring in.  If you want to get the most out of your visit to Yellowstone, let me take you to the best
spots for landscape and wildlife photography.  You won't have to worry about where to park, where
to go or anything else.  Just sit back, enjoy the ride and get the best Yellowstone pictures possible.  Visit my website at carolynfoxphotos.com for more information.