Saturday, February 14, 2015

Paying it Forward

A challenge for you

I was recently given a Tim Horton's gift card. So I went into Tim Horton's, asked for the manager and gave her the gift card. I told her to use it for people who come in who need it more than I do. I asked, "Do you know whom I mean"? She said, "I know exactly whom you mean". So do you.

It's just a small thing but I hope I made a few people a little happier for a moment. If half the readers of this blog did the something similar then a whole lot of people might get a little smile. Feels good. Be in that half. Pay it forward.

New Banner

I changed the banner last week and since some people can't see it, depending on how they view this blog, here it is:




As I worked on this image – I've created different versions of it, cropped a variety of ways – I realize how strong my attraction is to images with lots of negative space. If you look through my work over time, I've done a lot of images with absolutely nothing in the background, usually white but a number of black images too. And although "fill the frame" is a mantra of mine, I'm learning that wider shots that include more background, tell the story much better.

Topaz Labs February Special

Topaz Labs Plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom are brilliant. I'm addicted to their products, particularly Impression which I find outstanding and frequently include in my workflow.

You can buy individual products or the complete bundle and if you enter “faczen” in the discount coupon box at checkout, you get a 15% discount. You can also do a 30 day full free trial on any and all of their products. (highly recommended for Topaz Impression and Topaz Glow: they don’t run on all systems because they need higher functioning graphics cards. Try before you buy!).

There are larger discounts from time to time on specific products, for instance Topaz ReStyle is on sale for $20 off ($40 instead of $60) in February, using this coupon code: ‘febrestyle’. Here’s the link to their site (which includes my affiliate code), or click the Topaz box at the right.

ReStyle is a plugin designed to alter the colors in your image with its unique array of toning effects.
The technology behind ReStyle uses a cutting-edge process to map the color and tone statistics from a source image.

With this, creative possibilities extend to many inspiring choices. Restyle is a useful tool for the photographer or artist looking to alter the overall feeling and mood of his or her image. The program can even be used to revamp the tone of graphics and textures.



I used Topaz Impression to finish this image that I shot last week. The "Georgia O'Keeffe" preset helped me produce the rich blend of pastel colours in the water as well as the textures in the snow. FWIW, this was a 5-shot HDR bracket. I pasted the ducks back in because they were ghosted in the HDR (on purpose: I was trying to smooth the water). 




Here's another shot from the same day, same spot (well, I was in a different position). I startled these Goldeneyes into taking off and used the Impression "Impasto" preset for the brush stroke effect. 




These shots were taken at roughly the same spot, but on a different day! I say "these shots" because this is a composite of two images, plus some background manipulation. There was in fact a wild turkey right where this one is in this shot but he was in a less flattering pose, so I replaced him!

Snowy Owl

Thank you, Kathy. Thank you, Kathy. In case I forget to say it, "Thank you, Kathy"!

When she put up some Snowy Owl pictures I said how envious I was. She texted me the next day and asked if I wanted to go shoot some. You don't have to ask me twice, but Kathy (McKelvey-Brown) has magic eyes. She sees stuff nobody else can. Grey owls in grey trees. Turtles. Ducks. So I figured I'd never see them. I was half right.

She told me where she had seen them the day before and when we drove there, (2 cars), she pulled over. I got out to talk to her and she said, "didn't you see the owl? It was in that tree, and when you got out of your car it flew away". Rats. I never saw it. Then she said, "There it is!". A white spec in a tree 300 meters away. Magic eyes.

Cutting to the chase: I got the hang of it and had at least half-a-dozen sightings, two of them after she left and I spotted them on my own! Without further ado...



They sit on top of power poles or on fence posts, looking for prey in the snow with THEIR magic eyes. White bird, white snow, white sky... 



This one took off from the pole when I got a bit too close (yeah, like in the next county!). I have a 200mm lens plus 1.7x telextender on a full-frame D800. Not quite enough for birding. 



I captured this owl in flight. Now if I didn't tell you this was a composited image, would you have known? There was nothing but the bird and sky in the original shot so I added in a background. This is the same bird as the previous shot, about 1/2 second later. Back button autofocusing and predictive tracking in the D800 does a fantastic job! So does Topaz Adjust 5 and ReMask.


Want a print of this image? Send me a note.

By the way, you know I'm a landscape guy, right? While driving around looking for owls, I came across this scene and it called out to me to be photographed:




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