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Archive for October, 2010

Recently I have been revisiting some older photographs and converting them to black & white using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro. I absolutely love the control I have over the images when converting them. Being able to fine tune the images like an old-time master dodging and burning in the darkroom.  I presently have a fondness for how some of my water detail images and waterfalls have turned out and thought that I would share a few of them here. Some of the images are straight B&W converts with some adjustments made to structure and contrast while others such as the first and second images have had toning applied for creative effect. If you haven’t tried this software yet, I highly recommend you give it a try…and go with the flow.

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Yesterday we received our first snow of the year. About 2 inches lay on the ground in the morning, but melted quickly when the sun rose. Later that day, I found myself scrolling through images from past winters. Often I will look back at past images to see what I have photographed and how I might improve upon what I have already captured. Sometimes it can be as simple as trying out a different Photoshop plugin. I always liked the above image, captured during a snow flurry, of this old truck that sits in a junkyard near Parry Sound, Ontario. I liked the colourful storage crates in the background and how snow from past storms was clinging to the body. Today I was using Topaz Adjust and created the above effect by selecting the “Detailed” preset and then fine tuning the results with the adjustment sliders.

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During my recent autumn trip one of my must see destinations was the Barron Canyon in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. This location is easily reached by taking Barron Canyon Road on the north-east side of the park near Pembroke. I hike up the short trail long before sunrise so that I could catch the early morning and mist coming off the Barron River. I photographed this scene from the high cliffs above the Barron River. The cliffs at this location are about 100 metres high, so please use caution when visiting such locations. To quote Canadian landscape photographer Daryl Benson, “you’re allowed only one fall from this height per lifetime.”

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As you know, from the majority of my posts on this blog I am mostly a landscape photographer. I do, however, love to shoot wildlife subjects also. When shooting landscapes we usually have time to think our way through our compositions to achieve the results we are seeking. There are some circumstances in landscape photography that require you to work quickly so that you can capture that fleeting moment of light. As for wildlife photography, I find it totally different. If your subjects are uncooperative, there is usually not enough time to try various compositions. If the action is fast paced and you are panning with the subject your sharpest capture and best pose may be the worst in terms of composition. At least that is how it always turns out for me. I am hopeless at panning.

Nowadays, before I hit the delete key on my sharp, poorly composed wildlife images, I turn to my APTATS tutorial CDs. APTATS stands for “Advanced Photoshop Techniques and Tips Simplified.” These inexpensive tutorials are available through Birds As Art. There are two E-Books available. I highly recommend both. They will speed up your workflow and have you feeling like a photoshop whiz-kid in no time. APTATS 1 is available here and APTATS 2 is available here. These techniques and tips have been developed by Robert O’Toole and with the help of Arthur Morris have been assembled into PDF  Tutorials that are very simple to follow. Numerous screen captures will guide you through the process to the end result. My personal favorites are the “Quick Mask Object Removal” and “Composition Correction without Cropping.” Check out these tutorials to see what other amazing techniques you can learn that will fill your photoshop tool box with image optimizing tricks. The small monetary investment to purchase these two tutorial e-books may just be one of the best investments you may make to improve your photoshop skills. It was for me.

Below I have posted some before and after images to illustrate the effectiveness of these tutorials. Hope you enjoy them.

This first image, I thought would look great with the Great Blue Heron dead center for possible calendar use. Wrong! The head position is all wrong for such a composition. So, without cropping the image I adjusted the composition, so that it would be more pleasing, using the composition correction tutorial.

I never saw the ladder in the image below when shooting this captive Barn Owl in flight. Somehow it showed up on my monitor though :) Using both the composition correction technique and the quick mask object removal I was able to save this image from the recycle bin.

In the Blue Jay image below I actually like both versions, however, the version with composition adjusted without cropping may be more suitable for use as a magazine cover shot someday.

Below is a Beaver that I photographed at Humber Bay on Lake Ontario in Toronto last winter. I was laying on the ice when the beaver emerged from the water. I knew if I moved it would flee, but I also knew that using the quick mask removal technique from APTATS I could remove all the distracting concrete in about a minute. So my solution was to fire away and not worry about those distracting elements.

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I recently became aware of a very interesting plugin for Windows users of Adobe Photoshop. The creative possibilities with the use of this filter are almost endless, however, it is certainly not for every image, but when you find an image that works well with fractalius the results are most addictive. I can most certainly guarantee that you will begin searching your image collection for more images that will work with this unique plugin. I first became aware of this photoshop plugin through the blog of famous bird photographer Arthur Morris which in turn led me to the very creative work of Denise Ippolito. Please take a look at Denise’s fractalius gallery here and if you are interested in purchasing this inexpensive plugin click here.  Denise also has a free tutorial on her blog on how to use this filter effectively. Below are three additional images that I have applied fractalius too – a Brown Pelican (Atlantic Phase), Cuban Crocodile and a Blue Jay.

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For all the dog lovers out there I thought I should get around to posting a photograph of my dog Koko. Her name comes from the Japanese / Native American word meaning midnight. As you can see she is as black as black can be. This is a recent image taken over the Thanksgiving Weekend. I like how the carpet of out of focus white pine needles compliments the colour of her eyes. Koko is 4 years old and is a lab mix. Many people think she has a bit of greyhound in her and she just may have because when she runs she’s like a bullet. When Koko was 2 years old she was diagnosed with a hereditary eye disease called pannus which will cause blindness if left untreated. Her treatment consists of daily cortisone drops in both eyes to halt the progression of the disease. So far it is working. Koko has not really become a photo companion due to her excessive playful nature, but she is gentle and good-natured with my 3 year old daughter.

Below you will see a photograph of my brothers pure-bred husky. Her name is Kaiya. Kaiya is the most gentle husky I have ever known and those blue eyes are simply amazing. I always try to get a few nice portraits of Kaiya whenever I have a chance too.

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Here is another recent image shot at The Gut on the Crowe River. I first photographed here a couple of years ago in quickly fading light, at days end, and always wanted to return to shoot this location more thoroughly. On my recent travels, I decided to pay it another visit. This is a lesser known waterfall tucked away in a somewhat remote corner of Ontario’s Hastings County. On an historical note, arrowheads and Native artifacts have been discovered at this site.

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