Archive for April, 2012

Lionfish – Glow 100 preset

A few weeks ago I made a trip to the Toronto Zoo for a fun day of photographing animals from all around the world. While meandering my way around the zoo, I thought that many of these animals would make wonderful subjects for the photoshop plugin Fractalius by Redfield Plugins, so after arriving back at home I immediatelybegan playing around with some of the presets and adjusted the sliders to taste until I came up with this assortment of fractalius renderings. When I use the Fracatlius plugin I always apply it’s effect on a duplicate layer. This is done for two reasons. First it allows my to mask back in the eye(s) so that the filter has no effect on the eye(s) and secondly, I may want to reduce the overall effect of the filter and the easiest way to do so is to reduce the opacity of the layer to which the Fractalius effect is on. Most often I go straight for the ‘Glow 100’ or the ‘Rounded’ presets as these are my favorites to use. I have indicated below each image which preset I selected, however, the effect was achieved by adjusting the sliders to taste. Please note, this fun and addictive plugin is only available for folks using Windows and is available for purchase here.

Hope you enjoy this collection of artistic renderings from my Fractalius addiction and naturally I could not resist the temptation to include a frog image from the zoo too 🙂

Please take a moment to let me know which is your favorite and why.

Waxy Monkey Treefrog – Rounded preset

Gorilla – Rounded preset

Gaboon Viper – Rounded preset

Meller’s Chameleon – Glow 100 preset

African Penguin – Glow 100 preset

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Toad Skin Fractalius

It seems like over the last couple of weeks I have been playing a game of cat and mouse with the American Toads (Bufo americanus) that have been chorusing on and off due to the roller coaster ride we have been having with the temperatures. It feels like today they are singing loud and proud in the warm night air, and then tomorrow, when the mercury drops, they have gone back into hibernation. In between my excursions out to the pond over the last couple of weeks I have been doing lots of research and writing for the latest eBook I have begun writing, not to mention helping my daughter recover from a recent flu bug as well as getting over the same flu bug myself. During my toad quests, after capturing a few horizontal and vertical compositions of some of the toads I began to play around with some extreme close-ups of their beautifully textured skin and couldn’t resist the temptation to process one of the images with Fractalius – as seen above. Of all the various species of frogs and toads that I have photographed so far the American Toads are most certainly among my favorites. The males, when calling, seems to have a tough guy attitude, but their antics are also quite comical. If you put your hand or fingers near them when they are singing, and their hormones are going full strength, they will often grab hold of your hand or finger with incredible strength thinking that they have found a female toad. It makes me laugh everytime.

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Tamrac Adventure 7

Recently I became sponsored by Tamrac Canada and am pleased to be associated with their high quality, durable camera carrying systems. Long before I became sponsored by Tamrac I purchased one of their Adventure 7 backpacks, mostly for use on family vacations to the Caribbean where I would want to take more than just my photography gear as carry-on baggage. The Adventure 7 was a perfect fit for this need as it is uniquely design with two compartments; an upper section and a lower section. The lower section is for camera gear and will allow for two or three lenses and a camera body, while the upper section can be used for storing various items that you may wish to carry with you in the field and the upper section also has a small mesh pocket inside. I have found the upper section most useful for storing lunches / snacks, light weight jackets, hats, sunscreen and even diapers, when my daughter was of a much younger age. You will also find a large front pocket on the pack and two side mesh pockets. The harness system for carrying this backpack is comfortable, making the pack a joy to take on long excursions into the field where traveling lightly can often be a priority.

What  really attracted me to this pack in the first place was the rugged materials used in its construction ( my pack in the above photo is several years old and is still in great shape) and that it does not really resemble a traditional camera bag, which is a good thing when traveling to some foreign countries where crime can be of concern for photo enthusiasts. The Adventure 7 is a very well made pack with several nice features. The zippers have large pull tabs making them easy to open. A large weather flap provides additional protection around the zipper for the lower camera compartment and the large front pocket on the lower section will allow you to carry some filters, a cable release and Tamrac’s patented Memory and Battery Management System can also be found within this pocket.

Since I do enjoy hiking as lightly as possible, I now use this pack for much more than a family vacation to the sunny south. Often I will pack my Adventure 7 with my 18-70mm lens, 80-400mm lens and Nikon D200 for a long hike near my home. A polarizing filter, a couple of graduated neutral density filters and cable release go into the front pocket. A bottle of water goes into one of the side mesh pockets and in the upper compartment I store the lens hood for my 80-400mm lens and any other items that may be required depending on the type of excursion I have planned. My asthma inhaler is kept readily accessible in the small mesh pocket found inside this upper compartment as well. Being able to hike in comfort will improve your photo excursions immensely, I have found in the past that becoming bogged down with gear that is less than user friendly produces very poor results.

The Tamrac Adventure Series Backpacks currently come in four sizes to suit your individual needs. The two largest packs the Adventure 9 & 10 will also allow you to carry a laptop into the field and additional lenses. Having used the Adventure 7 pack for a number of years I can honestly recommend it as a versatile pack that is superbly designed to meet the needs of most photographers.

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