Bird Photography-Blue Herons

Fishing for Lunch

Spent a long time watching this blue heron hunt for fish on the shores of Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Their process of catching fish is very interesting. The heron will stand very still in the water upright, but as it moves to a new location it cocks its head and neck to one side to scan the water surrounding it. When fish are spotted, it crouches its body down very close to the surface of the water and tucks its neck in close to its body. And then it waits – when the time is right with extreme force and precision it dives for the fish.

Gaining Speed.jpg

Taking Flight.jpg

Ready to Launch.jpg

Two Cranes.jpg

Photography-Friendly Hummingbirds

Hummingbird-In flight

f7.1; 1/2000 sec; ISO 800; 250mm

“With Brave Wings She Flies”…..I never get tired of photographing hummingbirds. Each comes with its own personality. Some are very shy and hide behind the feeder hoping you won’t see them while others seem to pose for the camera. The other day, I was approaching the house. I heard the buzzing of the wings and chirping sound of the hummingbird. You can’t really hear their chirp unless you are really close. To my surprise this hummingbird (who is a frequent guest at our feeder) hovered about two feet in front of me, eye level, staring at me for at least 20 seconds before taking off. It was such a thrill to learn it was not afraid of me.

Photography – There is hope that warm weather is coming!

Visitor at the Feeder

As you have probably guessed by now, I love hummingbirds. They are one of my favorite birds to photograph. They are quite the little challenge.

Today I am very excited. Given the weather this spring in Chicagoland, I have been waiting for them to come back. They usually are spotted in mid-April. Today was a blessing! The first one arrived at my feeder. Spring has sprung!!

Photography-Mobile Editing – an In Depth Look at Snapseed

Often I hear people rave about the mobile app Snapseed®. In fact there is one man who I know of in the Chicago area who wins many local and regional photo contests solely using Snapseed® for photo editing. So thought I would take an in depth look and share my findings.

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS

Hummingbird at feeder-Original

Hummingbird at feeder-Snapseed

Florence-OriginalFlorence-Snapseed


Snapseed® is available for Apple® and Android phones and tablets. This app will process raw and jpg files, but it only saves in jpg (up to 100% quality and with nondestructive editing). An image can be resized from 800px – 4000px.


RAW FILES

  • The Adjust and White Balance tools (shown below) automatically display when you open a RAW photo in Snapseed®. Swipe up and down to access Adjust editing tool options. Once a tool is chosen, there is a little blue line at the top of the window. If you move it to the right it increases the effect; to the left it decreases the effect. The histogram displayed in the lower left corner is somewhat helpful.
  • There are eight Adjustments to choose from and White Balance offers eight options and a color picker.

Below is the menu of all of the editing tools offered in Snapseed® for both RAW and JPG files. Two very useful tools to fine tune your image are the:

  • SELECTIVE tool which allows you to add Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Structure to certain areas in a photo. To choose a Selective tool you swipe up and down. Then move your choice to an area in the photo and use your two fingers to make the affected area larger or smaller before using the tool.
  • BRUSH tool which allows you to brush in effects to certain areas in the photo: Dodge & Burn; Exposure; Temperature; Saturation. Once again, you use your two fingers to make the brush size larger or smaller. There is also a Mask icon that you can turn on and off to see what areas are affected.
  • To change an area or brush size use two fingers; spread them apart to decrease the brush size and enlarge the image size. Move them together to increase the brush size and decrease the image size.

screenshot_20190507-054812_snapseed2863048414842263542.jpg


Snapseed® offers 12 photo filters to choose from, some are shown on the sidebar. At the top you can Undo/Redo an effect, Revert to the original image and View edits; view image details; and choose settings, access tutorials, and get help and give feedback.

screenshot_20190507-054937_snapseed5430868008788942032.jpg


An image can be Shared, Saved, and Exported.

  • Save – saves editing on the original image. Edits can always be removed by opening the image into Snapseed®.
  • Save a copy – saves a non-destructive duplicate image. The duplicate version will be in JPEG format. It will save to a new Album titled Snapseed®.
  • Export – saves a duplicate image, with edits flattened. The flattened version will be in JPEG format. In this version you cannot go back and undo editing.

screenshot_20190507-054751_snapseed4470482607118308551.jpg


So what do I think about Snapseed®? It’s a powerful little app that can get the job done fairly well if you are only doing simple edits to pop an image. I found the Healing brush was not very accurate, and there is only one brush type in the program to paint with. Some very cool effects can be achieved by using the filters. In my opinion, if a photo only needs a quick tweak or you want to add a unique look to an image, it would be a great app to have on hand especially when traveling without a computer.

Would love to hear your comments or any learnings you would like to share.


 

Flower Photography – Narrowing the Focus

Lily - On the Inside

After taking a hiatus from photo shoots to learn and get comfortable with a new camera and lenses, I decided to take a new approach to my flower photography. My process has always been to find an interesting flower against a relatively good background and shoot it with a variety of lenses; wide, telephoto, macro, Lensbaby. My thinking is, a beautiful flower speaks for itself. Not too much thought or creativity goes into this process. Consequently, many of my flower photographs look like many of the photographs taken by everybody else.

For Easter someone brought me a Lily plant. Given spring is still fleeting here in Chicagoland (might snow this weekend), I decided to place the plant on a patio table and see what I could come up with creatively. Not too many ways to shoot a single lily. I kept focusing on what is the most interesting thing about this lily. This is what I came up with.

The photograph taken above was not cropped. The subject was shot as is. So this year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and photograph only a portion of every flower I shoot. I believe it is going to be “easier said than done”! But if nothing else, I am hoping to learn a lot, and it will definitely be interesting!!

The photo below was taken a few years ago.

Pansy - showing off