Experiments of a Non-scientific Nature

Experiments of a Non-scientific Nature

The weather has been a bit uneven lately. We have had some rain and cloudy days, but it has been insufferably hot for October. And my usual spots have been reduced since none of the National Wildlife Refuges are open due to the shutdown. Even the websites are closed! You can't even read about the places!

The weather is supposed to break this week, and maybe the Refuges will be open soon, but while I am writing this I don't have a lot of new photos to share with you. I do have some old photos with some cool edits to show you. And I was requested to show the 'before and after' on the edits, so here goes.

I took the following photo of wildflowers at the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary. It was a horribly hot, humid day during the summer. But the light was soft.

Bright wildflowers looking all normal and ... uninteresting

Bright wildflowers looking all normal and ... uninteresting

Nothing special here. There is a bug on the flower at the bottom, but no detail. And the framing is a bit off, since part of the bottom flower is chopped off. Distracting branches on the left. Background is blurry, but not enough blur to be pleasing as the mid-ground is too much in focus. Not a keeper in this form.

Same plain photo made into Black and White

Same plain photo made into Black and White

You can make a photo black and white with a click of the button. Voila! Still looks blah. 

Color splashed flowers

Color splashed flowers

But, it is now possible to remove the black and white layer so the original colors show. This is called Color Splash technique and it can be quite effective. Notice the new photo is cropped and now you eye cant help but notice the flowers.  

But let's not stop here. Recently I got some new toys that I can apply to my photos. I wont go into the details (if you want to know the steps, send me a mail from the Contact page) but here is another version using Flypaper Textures, Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint.

New version of wildflowers

New version of wildflowers

These edits and filters seem to work well on flowers and bugs. Want to see a bumblebee get transformed? 

Bumblebee looking all soft and natural

Bumblebee looking all soft and natural

I was fascinated by that creamy white foliage at the Houston Arboretum. The bee was lagniappe; sometimes you are concentrating so hard on the foliage or the light and suddenly there is an interesting critter to photograph. So, he looks kinda nice there, right?

Monster!

Monster!

This is the exact same photo with some cool filters and edits. Now he looks terrifying, don't you think? 

Ship passing Texas City Dike

Ship passing Texas City Dike

This panorama was made from 4 separate photos, stitched together by the magic of Photoshop. This is reduced for blog posting, but the original photo would be close to 30 inches wide should you want to make a print. I have a lot of photos of ships. This one is from the Seatrans Group and the lettering doesn't look very professional, but it is a huge outfit. Trans Catalonia is a LPG/Chemical tanker flying the flag of Singapore. I took this photo as it was headed to the Port of Houston in August. At this time, it is in the South Atlantic off the shore of Argentina, headed for Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

Squirrel Snapshot

Squirrel Snapshot

Here is a neighborhood squirrel just straight out of the camera, uncropped and natural. All I did for this is reduce the size from 4000px width to 1500px for the blog post. Not bad, it is all in focus and there is good eye contact. But it is a bit bland, don't you think?

Squirrel Snapshot looking much better

Squirrel Snapshot looking much better

This photo has been adjusted for brightness and contrast, and the distracting white area in the lower left has been removed. The top white part isn't ideal, but the light is coming from that direction so I just made it a bit smaller. Then it was warmed up with a textured filter, and subjected to Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint. Once all that has been done, the eye is cleared so none of the edits dim the reflections.

No crop, just the same reduction as above for blog posting. My camera has a smaller sensor, it doesn't make huge photos. I know I can only crop a limited amount and keep good resolution, so I try hard to frame the shot when I press the shutter.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

And then you can do fun things with edits, too. This window shot was something from my East Texas trip back in the Spring. The curlew is a photo from the recent trip to Texas City. Some magic with Photoshop and then the Oil Paint treatment. Isn't that cool? I want to do more like this. Big thanks to  my fave photographer Bill Maroldo for helping me learn this new technique.

Post-processing is part of taking photos, IMHO. I always work on my 'keepers' and adjust the brightness, contrast and sometimes remove distracting limbs or objects. If I am going to do a full edit with filters and plug-ins, I might work in layers. That is an area where I am still learning.

As someone said, there are photographs for showing and photographs for learning. Amazing things can be done to make a good photo better, but you cannot salvage a really bad photo. But, the process of trying to make one better can be instructive, as long as you know when to give it up.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. And next week I will have some new birds to show you. Promise.

White Bird

White Bird

Wildlife in the Flood Zone

Wildlife in the Flood Zone