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!