2019-09-15: Photo Arts – Birds

As much as I had hoped that my photo art topic would allow me to get comfortable with Topaz Studio version 2, I haven’t actually even tried it yet.  Fingers crossed that this week coming up I can make some time to a watch a tutorial or two and get familiar with the program operation, but for now, I have stuck with the original version, and I am really happy with the results of this weeks experiments.

I decided to focus on birds this week, and played around with two basic combinations of software.  The sunbird and hornbill were edited primarily using the Topaz AI Remix module, while the rest were done with Impression (along with the usual basic edits to start for tone, cropping, etc.).

Do you have a favourite this week?

I hope you enjoy, and wishing you a great week ahead.

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Lilac breasted roller
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White bellied sunbird
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White backed vulture
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Ground hornbill
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African wood hoopoe

2019-08-18: Birds – The ones that are hard to get

Everyone that enjoys watching birds and photographing them knows that there are some species that are harder than others to get images of.  I love the challenge of trying to capture that elusive clear image of a bird that tends to hide in the densest part of the treetops.

Locally, we have beautiful birds like the Western Tanager; a bird that I have only seen a handful of times, and photographed only on a rare occasion.  The incredible yellow plumage on the males makes them targets for predatory birds, so sticking to dense areas makes a lot of sense.  I admired the beautiful song of the Hermit Thrush for years before I finally saw a small brown and white bird singing, and had my first clue to discover the identity I had wondered about for so long.

While traveling, I kept up with trying to ID and photograph birds hiding in treetops and thickets.  Some were deep amongst the leafy trees foraging for fruits, some were naturally shy and trying hard to stay out of sight, and sometimes, it was just unlucky positioning of the vehicle, and having to shoot through branches and grasses, before the bird flew away.

Here are a few of my shots of some of the more challenging birds spotted on my last trip.

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I’ve had success with images of African Hoopoes in the past, but this trip, I seemed to spot them only when they were behind a bunch of branches, or as they were flying away.
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A Purple-crested Turaco.  Such a stunning bird, which I was fortunate enough to see at two different camps, but only high in the treetops, feasting on tiny fruits.  This was the best shot I managed over a couple of days trying!
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A green pigeon devouring figs.  There were so many birds in this giant tree, and I had to stand underneath to take pictures.  It was a dangerous place to be, and I nearly got pooped on more than once.
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Another glimpse of a Purple-crested Turaco.
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A green pigeon pausing from its afternoon meal.
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A white-crested helmet shrike.  Sadly, I only saw this species once, and this is the best of the images I could get.  At least you can make out the yellow, wattled eye ring.
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A chinspot batis that I spotted outside of my room at Chitwa Chitwa.  I went out on the patio and was lucky to get this shot before the bird flew deeper into the trees.
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A black-backed puffback, also spotted from the deck at Chitwa Chitwa.  The late morning and early afternoon hours between game drives are great times for bird watching from the comfort of your room 🙂
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My views of adult bateleur eagles are usually of them flying away, and not managing any shots.  This is as good as it gets, so far.  There’s always next time!
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A different hoopoe, in a different tree, but still obscured by branches.

2019-04-07: Birds

A random selection of bird images this week!

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Oftentimes, spotting a congregation of vultures like this, and heading to where they are circling yields an interesting discovery… but in this case, they were all just hovering over a bare patch of desert beyond this bush.
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A group of wattled cranes seen in Botswana.
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A little bee-eater ruffling its feathers.
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Try as I might, I am unable to identify these raptors.  They were spotted on a game drive in Botswana from the Leroo La Tau camp.
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A red-billed quelea flock at sunset.
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Red-billed quelea leaving a roosting spot.  That small tree was absolutely vibrating with energy while they were there.
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An African harrier hawk taking some grief from a pigeon.
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My personal favourite, the lilac breasted roller.
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A Meyer’s parrot spotted in Botswana.  This was the first wild parrot I’d ever seen.
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A Meyer’s parrot.

2019-02-03: Roadrunner

I’ve skipped the January Month in Review post, because my posts were so infrequent and inconsistent, there doesn’t seem much point in trying to recap so little.  A friend posted a meme the other day that seems a bit fitting ” January was a tough year, but we got through it”.  We’re on to a new month now, and while I haven’t yet picked a theme for the month, I am going to get back to that as I enjoy the focus for a weekly post.  Based on the current weather and forecast to come though, it probably won’t involve being outside shooting.  It was too cold this morning to even get the dog out for a decent walk.  And I’m not even in the midst of the polar vortex!

It felt like a good time to go through some of my photos from southern California, and today I focused on the roadrunner.  These quirky birds were all around the golf course I stayed at in October, though they proved to be a bit shy when I got the camera out.  With some patience though, I managed to capture a few images.  I feel like these images should be accompanied by comments about Acme products and Wile E Coyote, but I’m coming up with nothing, so let’s get to the photos instead. 🙂

Wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead.

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2019-01-20: Costa’s Hummingbirds

I was going to post some of these images on Wednesday last week for a wordless Wednesday post, but I was having a few site issues, and just didn’t have the patience to wait while WordPress loaded slowly.  So instead, I’ve gone through my images and found a few more hummingbird images and am sharing them all today.

While I was in Southern California, I enjoyed my morning coffee on the patio, and loved watching the hummingbirds fighting over the best spots at the feeders and various flowering bushes.  I also noticed how chattery the Costa’s hummingbirds are.  They spent a lot of time singing from the branches of the bushes in the garden.  The link below is the All About Birds page for the Costa’s hummingbird, and you can hear what they sound like there.

All About Birds – Costa’s Hummingbird

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Seeing these images makes me long for spring even more, when the Rufous hummingbirds return to Prince George for another (short) spring and summer season.

2019-01-13: What I’ve seen this week

This is a topic I haven’t done in a while!  I’ve been trying to keep my camera close, as there is such an abundance of birdlife in my yard at the moment.  It can be a bit challenging though, with the days being so short, and we’ve had a lot of overcast days recently.  But even when the light isn’t great, it’s still awesome to have camera in hand.

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This was shot through my office window, as even though the blue jay is now a frequent, daily visitor to both the bird feeders and the deer bowl, it is still quite shy and won’t stick around if I am outside.
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I’ve taken to having my camera on me when I go out to fill the bird feeders and the deer bowl.  This doe was not at all concerned about me filling the feeder about 10 feet away.
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A red-breasted nuthatch pausing from eating suet.
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A grey jay I spotted in the yard this afternoon, enjoying some of the cob that I put out for the deer.

2018-11-22: Barred Owl

I was busy working last week and something caught my attention outside, out the corner of my eye.  I spotted this gorgeous barred owl in a tree in my backyard, and rushed to grab my camera to take a quick photo through the window.

I decided to take a chance and dash outside and hope to get a better shot.  The owl gave me a quick glance, let me snap 3 photos, and then was off, deep into the forest.

I love when beautiful creatures like this decide to make a stop in my yard 🙂

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2018-08-21: Flamingos – Before and After

I had flagged this image to include with my Monochrome Monday post yesterday, but when I started editing this in Luminar, I was so impressed with the transformation, I thought it would make for a good before and after post.

These flamingos were far away; I had the Panasonic at full 400mm zoom and they still are really small, so I shot this mostly as a proof image.  With a digital camera, there is little downside to snapping a photo or two even if you don’t think they will be great.

At least you have a record of what you saw, and it might actually turn out okay.  Needless to say this isn’t getting printed to hang on my wall, but it is a great example of how far you can recover a rather drab image.

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Here is the before image, even before straightening the horizon.  It almost pains me to post a shot that crooked, but before means before any editing.

As I said, I brought this into Luminar planning to include it with my black and white shots, but all it took were a few sliders to bring to colour and texture of the image back to life.  

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I saved a split shot with the before and after (I really like this view option, I find it much more helpful than toggling before and after on and off).  You really get an idea of how flat and lifeless the image was out of camera, and how much detail and colour be recovered.

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I edited this in under five minutes, so it definitely wasn’t a big time investment to play around and make this image the best it could be.