…and serious work to be done…

The countdown is on!  It’s D-25 to Eagles & Agriculture, and D-38 to Shooting the West.  Of course, Eagles & agriculture is the priority, as I’m showing at the Holiday Inn Express in Minden on Thursday, February 19, and setting up a vendor booth on February 20 and 21 at the Carson Valley Inn.  I’m trying to select the pictures for display, which will also be on sale, and create enough inventory for the booth.  E&A is a big event in the Carson Valley, and I want to put my best foot forward.  Any input from my friends is welcome.

As I discussed last week, I am also trying to learn Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, which is a full time job by itself.  A big thanks to my Photoshop mentors, who let me pop in to ask questions and also take the occasional telephone call, and who don’t pull any punches in their critiques.  I really like it when I don’t have to guess at the message.

These two images consumed a lot of my time this week – an entire afternoon and into the evening, in fact.  This is my first effort at replacing a blown out sky with something better.  It’s not perfect by any means, but I learned so much and the next one will be better.

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I had to overexpose the image to get any detail in the Hawk and the cupola, at the expense of the sky.

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I imported a new sky and spent a long time softening the ‘halo’ that occurs between the new and the old. I will improve my halo removal skills, and work to match the exposures of the subject with the sky to make a better final image. This editing thing is work!

I made time to get out a few times this week, as I can’t sit inside all day.  I think that’s why I enjoyed my career doing construction management so much.  Outside is much better than inside!  I had the pleasure of shooting with my friend, Steve, early last week.  Steve is a retired Navy engineer (no, he didn’t slosh when he walked), so we compared notes on our military time while we were out.  I showed him a few places in the Carson Valley, and found some hawks, owls, eagles, and a coyote.  I wanted to find an American Kestral for him, but that wasn’t in the cards.  Thanks for the great day, Steve!

Here’s a few from my day with Steve and the rest of the week.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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Nope, he’s not walking the plank. He was getting ready to take off.

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One of my best shots of these guys. I processed things differently, with better results.

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Just a pretty picture.

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Again, some new editing techniques. Don’t ask me what I did, because I don’t remember. I have to start writing things down as I edit. Sadly, the trees are starting to bud around here. I don’t think I like that – it’s still January!

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I really like these Red-Shouldered Hawks. They are very photogenic and allow me to take lots of pictures before they leave.

 

 

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Fire Hoses and Overdrive…

 

So, there I was – the new year started with a bang and I was on fire.  I was finding subjects in good light and making great images.  I was in a good groove editing pictures like mad.  Every new technique I tried was working.  And then, I had to take care of something and wasn’t planning to take pictures.  I took my cameras anyway, and it happened.  I got an awesome shot.

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I was very excited.  It looked great in the camera.  It looked great on the computer at home.  I applied my newfound editing skill and made what I thought was a great image.  Chest puffed and very proud of myself, I took my image to get it printed.  When I showed it to my friends at the printer, I asked what they thought.  They answered and, thankfully, told me the truth about my image.  They agreed that it was a great image with tremendous potential.  I learned about the potential in great detail.  Not crushed but somewhat deflated, I tried to absorb every detail.  I had a few other images, and we went through them, too.  I found myself drinking from the proverbial fire hose of photo editing information (nice segue, right?).

I know I didn’t absorb it all, and I’m not going to try to recite everything I learned here, with one major exception:  pictures showing motion are supposed to go left to right.  Motion ‘right to left’ is unsettling.  (Of course, this explains a lot about Mustang people – the running horse logo in the grill of my car is running right to left.  Go figure.)  I went home and tried again, starting with rotating the image, and I came up with this image.

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I have received further feedback on this image – all of it positive and all of it aimed at helping me make a better image.  And that brings me to the Overdrive (another nice segue, eh?) portion of this post.  I am kicking my study of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements into overdrive to improve my editing skills sooner.  I found a couple great books so I don’t have to bother my friends with questions all the time, and I’m going places in these software packages that I’ve never been.  Time will tell if I am making progress.

Meanwhile, my photo challenge this week is ‘Find a Line.’  At first glance, that sounds very easy.  Lines are all around us – sometimes in places we don’t always recognize.  The challenge is further complicated by the caveat that the image be very simple.  No lines with extra stuff – just a line.  I have an image – not quite ready, and I’m keeping my eyes open for other lines.  I’ll share my image next week.

But, here’s a few more of my successes from this week.  It’s a mix between Eagles and Hawks, with one ‘guest shot’ of a Goose.  Please also take a look in the Birds page.  I’ve added a few pictures there.  Enjoy – Photorogr

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I don’t normally take pictures of Geese, but I missed the Coots that were there when I stopped the car. The Goose was walking by, begging me to make the image.

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I think this is a Golden Eagle, but the jury is still out. My friends are almost evenly divided between Golden Eagle or juvenile Bald Eagle. The tie-breaker would be legs and feet, but they are not visible. It really doesn’t matter, however, as this Eagle is up to no good. None at all! Just check the posture and look on his face.

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I was trying to get this juvenile Bald Eagle (I know because of a different picture) when this Magpie came into the shot. Oh yeah, I don’t normally take pictures of Magpies, either.

 

…and 2015 starts off with a BANG!!!

My first week of 2015 was wonderful, from a photography perspective.  I enjoyed many ‘firsts.’

My lovely bride gave me a wonderful Christmas present – she enrolled me in a 52 week Photo Challenge.  This class teaches photography techniques through a series of challenges.  The first challenge was ‘selective focus.’  Without getting too technical, this technique uses aperture to control depth of field (the amount of the image that is in focus).  As a nature/wildlife photographer, this technique is the staple of what I do.  I submitted this image for the challenge.

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Notice how the Hawk, brush, and fence posts near the raptor are in focus, but out of focus in front of and behind the raptor. This is a shallow depth of field, and is caused by opening the aperture as wide as it will go. I use this technique to emphasize the subject and reduce clutter in the image. You will see this in many of my images.

I’m excited to continue the challenge and moving forward on my journey to better photography.  You will hear more about the challenge in the coming year.

I found an American Kestral for the first time – actually two!  They are a small Falcon, formerly known as a Sparrow Hawk.  They are colorful and make a great image, if you can find them and have them sit still long enough!

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My very first Kestral. This one was on a utility wire along Mottsville Lane.

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This one was north of Genoa on Foothill Road. I had just finished photographing some Golden Eagles and almost missed it.

I participated in the National Bird Count Day for the first time.  My partner was an experienced birder who had done bird counts in California.  He taught me how to ‘see’ the smaller birds and helped with identification techniques.  Here’s one of my images that day.

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I’m not sure what this is, but I sure like the detail and composition.

The next day, Susan and I were heading out and I found this beautiful bird in a tree near our mailboxes.  I thought it was a Merlin, but I was subsequently told it’s a Cooper’s Hawk.

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I’m trying to learn how to identify birds and have purchased a couple books, but I obviously need more practice and training.

And then there’s the Wild Turkeys in the Carson Valley.  I found them in a snowy field on the west side of the road – great light, although I don’t know if I used the natural light very well.

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And what week is not complete without some Eagles?  I found a beautiful Bald Eagle south of town, and a pair of Goldens north of Genoa.

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This Bald Eagle was a some distance away, but I still managed a decent shot.

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This Golden Eagle was in the tree but, using Selective Focus, I was able to make this image.

And so, the year started great.  Thank you for following my blog and being a part of my Journey!

Enjoy – Photorogr