Sunday, April 16, 2017

It was a rainy day...

It was a rainy day... well it is April!

The power of advertising. Who among you doesn't finish the title of this blog entry with... "in Pizzaville..." What do you think of when I write, "two all-beef patties..." or "It's the real thing" or "Gales of November"? Repetition is the key! Just sayin'...

Sometimes a new piece of software adds a new dimension to one's images.

It was a rainy day... 

This is the case with Seven Styles Watercolor actions for Photoshop. I saw someone else using it, got interested and purchased the action for the princely sum of $6.

Here's the thing. You can get carried away and use it endlessly, in appropriate and not so appropriate cases. The effect is intriguing but like HDR, not all the time! I'm looking forward to using it on some of those pretty outports in Newfoundland and maybe the odd landscape.

In this case it worked well: the original photo was ugly, all the powerlines, garbage cans and complicated foreground details. The building in the background jumps out at you in the finished image, and although I've lived here for 10 years, I never noticed it before!

The original image. 

Here's another image I processed with this interesting software:

While we're on the subject of software, if you're really quick (the sale ends tonight at midnight), Topaz Labs has everything in their program on sale for 40% off. Here's the link, and enter "SPRING40" in the discount field on checkout.

They have a new product in the works: called Topaz Studio. It's designed to let you access all their plugins and more, much more, with ease. It's in Beta-testing right now, a bit buggy, but they'll work it out soon! Stay tuned.


There was another thread in the Algonquin Park group on Facebook deploring the behaviour of many of the selfish and thoughtless tourists who stop dangerously on Highway 60 and who pester and annoy us, and feed the wildlife, and get in our shots and who are not there for the quiet enjoyment we are. I responded to that thread as follows and would like you, my readers, to think about what I meant. 

" ...stopping is NOT prohibited. In fact I often stop (safely) along 60 for photographs. Like you, I deplore people who do so unsafely or do not get right off the travelled lanes when they stop.
I too avoid the Park on a holiday weekend (or any weekend in the Fall) because of the hordes of busses and tourists, many of whom come from a culture where the concept of personal space and courtesy is different from mine (and presumably yours). But this IS a Provincial Park and it is intended, among other things, to be enjoyed by the public.
It's been discovered by many more people now, some of whom have never seen wildlife or even fall colours and as much as they sometimes inconvenience and annoy me, I'm not about to deny them their enjoyment of this fine example of Canada's natural splendor.  
Sure, I'm in favour of increasing education and enforcement of the laws and regulations, but let's have some tolerance for people who are not as privileged as we, who want a chance to enjoy this beautiful park."

Newfoundland Update:

I'm working on my agenda as we speak. It's back to a solo trip, and I'm still looking at late June/early July, for 3-4 weeks by car.  East coast, primarily: the drive up the Western peninsula, as attractive as it looks, is a LOT of extra miles. That could possibly change...

I'm going back to my painting classes this week. I really want to bring my oil paint stuff and sketch pad with me. I'm very frustrated by my inability to paint what my mind sees, but I'm determined not to give up just yet. 

Gales of November update:

It's filling up, only a few spaces remaining. For those who are procrastinating, it's that time. And yes, it's a long day drive up to the Soo from Toronto but really worth it! Last time I drove up, I decided NOT to turn on the radio or listen to music the entire trip: instead I focused on what was going on around me, and I turned it into a Zen experience.  Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised. I drove all the way to the Soo in one day last time, but if you want a shorter day, stop for the night along the North Channel, in Thessalon or Iron Bridge... the drive from the Soo to Wawa is only 200 km.

Here's the link, if you forgot!

Parting shots

I took two trips out to shoot pictures this week. One was to the White Water, where we met the fisherman above and where I took this image of rushing water and rocks:

If you're a member of the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club, we (the exec) are undertaking to have multiple outings for our members. Informal ones, like the visit to the whitewater last weekend, as well as more formal trips. Watch the Facebook group for meetup information. 
You don't need to be an HHCC member to access the group, you just have to be a legitimate person interested in photography, not someone trying to sell Sensy products or sunglasses, or give away some of the money being held for me by someone who knows a Nigerian prince. Visit and ask to join, it's an interesting group.

The other visit was to the rookery in Georgina where I got some pictures of Herons nesting last year. I chatted with the landowner and learned that most of the land around there is below the level of Lake Simcoe and it would be flooded if it weren't for the berms and the roadway. Most of the landowners rent out their land to companies growing 'asian vegetables' which he couldn't name. They use the same water for irrigation in the summer. He was there maintaining the berm and bringing in pipe for irrigation. I also learned from another source (the "other" Glenn S, I think) that the land on which the rookery sits has been donated to the township as a conservation area. 

This was cropped somewhat tightly from a shot with the 600mm lens. He was somewhat far away – not all the nests were occupied yet, including the closer ones. 

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Friday, April 07, 2017

Last Gasp of winter

The past several days up here in the highlands has been that ugly, muddy, wet, soggy time of year when everything is melting. I have a "pond" on the north side of my house. It's not very deep but the bottom is so soft that you sink in a few inches, resulting in a 'soaker' every time you go out for some firewood (taking it around to the front door for now). The driveway is all rutted at the back, although the 10 or 12 little trailerloads of gravel I spread last year at the entrance has worked. It's a muddy mess back where my garage is (and where my sump pump line exhausts!). So I parked my car in the driveway last night, not wanting to drive over it.

So of course, this is what it looked like when I got up this morning! Last Gasp.

iPhone pano. But it's all mud under that white frosting. I heard Algonquin Park got 15-25cm of the white stuff. Tempting to take a drive up but, nah... 

I did get one more trip into Algonquin Park before the end of March. Still snowy up there, but spring is on its way (I wrote this before I got up to the white stuff this morning!).

I culled my images back to three favourites as I promised (I know, should only be one. But it's better than the NINE I wanted to post here!

This young fox was in the Spruce Bog. Too accustomed to the presence of Man, s/he  followed us around in the hopes of a handout. The late day lighting was perfect. BTW I had a shot I liked better but there was a leaf or something stuck on the fox's nose! (if you subscribe to my blog you'd see that picture. I always send an unpublished picture to my subscribers! Click the "Newsletter" link at the top of this blog to subscribe. No spam, one click to unsub.)

This is a mink, making its way along behind the creek. I don't think it wanted to go in the water like the otter. I had a shot of it at full gallop, but chose this as one of my three! 

And here's the otter, snacking on frog's legs. I had closer shots but thought showing the environment tells a better story. 

This was created using a Photoshop Action called "Seven Styles Watercolor" (Google is your friend!) which I purchased for the princely sum of $6. I don't normally buy actions or presets, but this one was so intriguing when I saw it in the Topaz forums, that I had to try it. It could add a new creative dimension to my post-processing.

It was a rainy day... practicing for Newfoundland

When I'm in Newfoundland this summer, there are going to be a lot of photo ops shooting colourful little outports overlooking the ocean, with weathered, textured fishing stages and probably less-than-perfect weather conditions. I want to work up some techniques for shooting under those conditions.

Karen was visiting from Toronto so we decided to go out and shoot some pictures despite the rainy weather.

This first shot was overlooking the lake from my dock area. Um, the sun wasn't there and the duck was in a different place! I was showing Karen some post-processing techniques. Also my "blogframe" action (I wrote this one myself!). It needs updating, it doesn't work right on the Mac, especially since the fonts aren't available. Next time I get ambitious. 

One thing you need to do is work the scene. Sometimes you shoot close, sometimes more landscape. This ice fishing hut had lots of texture in the weathered wood but I decided that it competed with the graphic nature of the picture, so I smoothed it away. 

Then I thought that this scene might be typical of an outport in the rain, so I gave it a painterly treatment, bringing out the colours, especially in the reflections in the muddy foreground. This was actually a good test: I had the wrong lens, so I shot 6 images and stitched them together using the merge to pano function in Lightroom. I resized it before working on it, it was almost a 100 megapixel file!

I have two trips to look forward to: Newfoundland in July and Lake Superior in October. I can't decide which one is going to be more fun! Anyone want to come along?

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