Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In The Garden

When I got together with my friend Michelle this past Saturday to go on a photoshoot, she dropped off a book and some magazines for me to look through to help with Photoshop Elements.  She had version 6, so these reading materials deal with that.  I have version 7, but she said there isn't much difference between the two so I should be able to use them.

I finally got around to going through the book a little bit today.  Since I've been trying my hand at black & white conversion, I checked out the section on that.  Boy, was I doing it "wrong".  All I had been doing was clicking on the "convert to black and white" option (at the top of the screen under enhance) and then playing around with sliders for adjusting colour, contrast, brightness, etc.

I am much happier with the technique I tried today - and I learned something new as well (the technique).  I follwed the step-by-step instructions and came up with the photo you see in this post.  It's probably not the best shot, or b&w converstion, but I like it.

The book I was following is called the photoshop elements 6 book for digital photographers (no capitals used in the title) by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski.  It seems like a great book, and Michelle said it is an excellent tool to learn PSE.  She said it was expensive, but well worth having.  The magazines, which I haven't had a chance to look through much yet, are called Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques.  I hope to get around to reading through those very soon.

Do you use Photoshop Elements (any version)?  If so, what's your favourite technique to use?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Pretty Dahlia

I really like this shot.  The colours aren't as bright as I normally like, but they are close to the actual colours.  I suppose they are a bit faded as well, due to the sun.

I'm not sure of the name of this dahlia (another one from my mom's garden); it has large blossoms and is pink/mauve and white, though the middle of the petals, as you can see, are a yellowish colour (not really green - but that might have happened in the process of editing in PSE).

For this shot, in the editing department, I auto adjusted the colour and contrast and also used the dry brush application.  I think it makes the photo look more like a painting than a photography; maybe that's why I like this shot.  I know that one of the petals has a hole in it, and I'm sure it could be fixed in PSE, but at the moment I don't know how to do that.  It's something on my list of things to learn though.  I think I'll try the dry brush application on some other photos and see how it looks (both flowers and other shots).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hear The Tiger Roar

This is an image of a tiger lily I photographed back in June of this year, from my mom's garden.  I adjusted the colours and contrast somewhat, but did no cropping or anything else.

Lillies are one of my favourite flowers; the others are roses, calla lillies, carnations and dahlias - though to be honest, I do like all flowers.

I love the bright orange colours of these flowers.  I don't know if orange is hard to capture the way red is or not, but I like they way it shows on this picture.  I took this after a rain, and you can see some raindrops on some of the petals.

Sadly, as fall advances here, the flowers are starting to die down.  There have been a few more days of overnight frost, which is definitely not good for them.  These tiger lillies come back every year though, and I look forward to seeing them year after year.  A lot of the flowers my mom has in her gardens come up every year, but there are some she has to plant every spring.  I don't know if I'll ever get the gardening green thumb like her, but I suppose some day if I want to take photos of flowers, it might be handy to have some of my own - though I'd need a house with a yard first off...

What is your favourite flower(s) or favourite flower(s) to photograph?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seeing Red

On one of the photography forums I belong to, there was a challenge of taking photos of the colour red.  It didn't matter what the subject was - flowers, cars, books - you capture the image whatever was red.

I've heard it before that red and yellow (and I'm finding now darker purples) are difficult to photograph.  That's the issue I have here.  The photos I've posted here haven't been edited at all, but I did try.  All of these flowers are dahlias, from my mom's garden, and a two of them have a second colour in them.

In the first image, aside from getting a good shade/hue of red, the top of the flower seems blurry.  I don't know if it's because I wasn't focused on the area, or not, but it seems to all blend together.  This is also something I don't know how to fix.  I wonder if the problem could be fixed by adjusting the angle of the camera...

The next photo doesn't seem too bad, though I realize it's not entirely in focus.  I think what happened was that I got a little too close to the flower.  The camera did indicate it was in focus, but I wasn't using a tripod, so that could also contribute to the image not being totally in focus.

The third image looks too bright.  I played around with it in Photoshop Elements but still couldn't get the red to look the way it does in real life.  I know the photo's not the best composition either, but I was just mainly focusing on the red and trying to capture that and see how it would turn out.  I believe the type of dahlia in this photo is a semi-cactus variety, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

The last image is of another semi-cactus, or even a cactus dahlia (again, I'm not sure of the variety.  I'll have to ask my mom).  As you can see, there is yellow at the center that gradually turns to red.  I took this photo mainly for the red, but also because it has yellow in it, and as I've said above, yellow is another colour that is difficult to photograph.  On the actual flower, the red wasn't too bright or dark, but I wanted to see how it would turn out.  I think the image would have potential if I had maybe taken the photo horizontally instead of vertically so that I capture the entire image rather than having some of the petals cut out of the picture.
So, overall, today's photoshoot was just experimental and I didn't pay too much attention to compostion this time.  I did take some photos of some of the other dahlias that weren't red, but those will be used another time. 

I have so much to learn in photography; I want to become a fantastic photographer and need lots of practice.  One thing I learned from this shoot is that even when you are experimenting with trying to capture different colours (or colours difficult to photograph), taking pictures of only certain items, things that start with a particular letter - whatever experiment or assignment you are working on, you should still aim to take a good photograph.  You should still try to capture the best image you can, because you never know when you'll get the photograph!

Obviously I have a long way to go before I can be deemed an excellent photographer, but I am enjoying the process - even if I don't get very good shots.  Every time I take a photograph, it's a learning experience and a chance to practice (or try to remember) what I've learned already.

If you know how to take great shots (or fix them in PSE) of the colours red and yellow, or can direct me to an article, please leave me a comment.

My question for you:  What do you have the most difficulty photographing?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Park Bench

I took this image of a lonely park bench in the fall of last year (2008).  The photo was originally in colour and I auto adjusted the colour, contrast and a little sharpness.  I then converted it to black and white, hit the auto adjust for colour and contrast again a couple of times (I don't really know if that helps or not) and then added a grainy texture to the photo.

Camera used was my Sony point and shoot.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Downtown Melbourne

This shot is taken while I was in Melbourne during the summer (well, summer for me, winter for Melbourne).  I went with a friend to teh Melbourne Aquarium and other excursions this particular day, and passing by one of the windows on the way to the shark exhibit, I decided to take a photo of what I saw.

The tall building on the left (of the 2 tall ones) is the Eureka Tower (my group went there another day though, not the day I visited the aquarium).  I believe there are 90 floors, and on the 88th they have an observation room - well, technically the entire 88th floor is the observation room and you can look out over the entire city, and then some.  There is also a steel mesh cage that goes out about 10 metres from the building, but it's quite windy up there so I didn't venture out in it - my fear of heights kicked in.  I was quite content with staying inside.  It was bad enough that it took me awhile to get close to the windows (which are floor to ceiling) to look out and take pictures.

I made no adjustments on this shot.  I figure the colours look quite nice because of the aquarium's tinted windows.  If I were to make adjustments, I would probably lighten the lower lefthand corner somewhat.  I used my Pentax K200D and the normal 18-55mm lens that came with it, and zoomed in on my subject.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Desert Scene

Keeping on the desert theme from my trip to Egypt in February, 2008, This is a limestone rock formation that is found in the White Desert.  There are tons of these in that area, and they are really amazing to see.  We actually slept overnight, camped out, in the White Desert (not at this particular location), which was an amazing experience in and of itself.

We had a couple of guides with us, and they cooked us a meal over the campfire (delicious).  Our sleeping quarters consisted of a thin mattress on top of blankets on the sand, five or six camel hair blankets (nice and warm), plus two or three layers of clothing.  We had a large piece of fabric of some sort to help shield wind, and this was put up against the jeep we had travelled in to get to the desert.

It was so amazing to see millions of stars in the night sky (and a few shooting stars too); where I live, a city, you see a lot but nowhere near what you see in the middle of the desert in total darkness.  It's so amazing to gaze upon the galaxy and know that we are just a tiny part of it.  God is so amazing in His creation!

For this picture, I left it intact (no cropping), and auto adjusted the colours and contrast.  Again, it was taken with my point and shoot, and not my Pentax K200D (since I didn't own that camera at the time).

What is one place you would like to visit in the world - whether or not you would like to go there on a photography excursion?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Learning Curve

Today's image is definitely not my best.  I took this enroute to the Black Desert in Egypt, February 2008.  I had a point and shoot digital camera with me, and I was attempting to fill the frame with the image, which I thought was nice.  However, what I failed to notice was the horizon was not even.  It looks as though I was on a hill instead of flat ground.

I adjusted the contrast and colour on this shot, but I am unsure if I like the sky or if I would rather it be a little lighter.  I've had some say the sky is great the way it is, and others suggest I change it (I had thought it looked fake, those who thought I should change it agreed).  I will say the clouds are not touched at all and appear the same way (looking a teeny bit blurry to me) in the original photo.  Also, I did no cropping of this image at all.

So, this is one of those shots (for me) that I will have to use as a learning tool - remember to check the background, the horizon, etc. to make sure it is not slanting one way or the other (unless of course you are on the side of a hill or mountain and that's the way it is supposed to be).  Also, I will learn that a blue sky does not necessarily mean that you should darken the shade so that it looks nearly fake (or really fake)...unless that is, of course, what you are after.  In this picture, I definitely wasn't after a fake look.

I had debated on whether or not to post this image on my blog.  I decided that since this is a learning place for me (to look back on over time and see improvements I've made), and maybe a place where I can post links and advice from others to help other photographers as well as  myself, then maybe I should post it - a what not to do piece of advice or what have you.

So, learn from my mistake - check your backgrounds when you are taking photos! 

Also, if you know how I can adjust this image (if it's possible) so the horizon is straight, please let me know in the comment section!

Colour Version

I wanted to include the colour version of the photo I posted yesterday, more for a comparison than anything. 

Let me know what you think!

I'll post something else later today as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Black & White

Today's image is another boat shot, and another black and white.  After comparing the shot to the left with its original (in colour), I think I prefer the black and white for this one.  I think it might have something to do with the contrast.

This shot was taken at the same location as the previous one on the same day.  I like how you can also see the reflection of trees in the water, but not in the picture.  One thing I don't like, is the bridge in the middle at the top of the photo.  I had tried cropping it out, but the picture didn't look very good to me.  I also cropped something from the lower right side of the shot (have no idea what it was, but could have been part of another boat), so the dimensions of this photo aren't standard (at least I don't think they are).

In the past, when comparing black and white photos with those that were colour, I was drawn to the colour ones.  To me they had more character because it was more natural looking, more life-like.  I also like colour in general.  But, ever since becoming involved in digital photography (particularly lately) and editing, I have been drawn to the world of black and white. 

While there is no colour, these photos can be dynamic and have much more character than a coloured photo.  I haven't played around much with the b&w feature on PSE, other than changing it over and playing around with sharpness and contrast, etc., I haven't done much.  I'd like to try my hand at producing pictures with more "edge", more "graininess" in them, and I suppose at some point in the near future I will.  But, for now, I am feeling more and more drawn to the world of black & white photography.

I'm not saying b&w is all I will shoot, or that all of my photos will end up being turned into b&w, but I'm going to keep at it and try different subjects as well.  I'm sure some things will look better as a black and white photo, and others as colour.  That's one good thing about photography - there is so much you can do with experimenting and editing; the limit of subjects and creativity in photography is endless.

My question today:  Of the photos you've taken, what is your best black & white shot?  Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Lesson Learned

My first picture today is of two boats taken earlier this year - I believe it was towards the middle of June.  I went to Fundy National Park, and just before the entry, there is a wharf, restaurants, and a bakery that sells the best sticky buns ever!

When I was leaving, after an afternoon of kayaking with a friend, we stopped at the wharf to have an ice cream and take some photos.  The tide was out and the boats were resting on the ocean floor.  My vantage point might not have been the best for the capture though; I was on one of the piers looking "down".  I squatted to get a lower vantage point because I wasn't about to go down into the muck - especially since I had no boots, not to mention the fact that we probably weren't allowed to do that.

The original photo was taken in colour, but after playing around with that shot and adjusting colour, contrast, sharpness, etc., I decided to see how it would look in black and white.  Once I turned the image to black & white, I readjusted colours and sharpness and played around with it some to see how it would look using different filters and whatnot from Photoshop Elements.  This is about the best I could come up with.  It's not the best image but again, at this point in time, PSE is pretty much a learning experience for me.

Here is the colour image of the above photo.  I made adjustments with sharpness, colours, etc., but I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I tried making it brighter and whatnot, but it didn't seem to make the colours pop.  That's something I want to become better at - making the colours better.  I guess, however, that there really isn't a lot of "colour" in this shot, mostly browns and whites with a little green and blue thrown in.  It's not a bad shot, in my opinion, but I'm sure it could be improved in some way.

I was discussing photography and PSE with a friend last night, and she had said something to the effect that everyone has their own creative streak and will take pictures in their own way, and even make the adjustments in PSE (or whatever program they use) in their own way as well.  We can definitely learn from others, and even try some tips they may give us to improve in photography and/or editing, but ultimately we develop our own style and that's what people will like.  I found her comment very encouraging and motivating (even if she wasn't trying to do that), and made me realize that I will develop my own style of photography (and editing), and if that's what someone likes, great; if not, well they are entitled to their own opinions on that too.

So, with all that in mind, I find these photos to be ok, but I would like to be able to make them really "pop", and improve them.  I am somewhat satisfied with the way they turned out, but I'm also willing for others to give me some pointers on how to fix them (feel free to comment in the comment section).

I entittled this post, "A Lesson Learned" for the simple fact that on my way over to my friend's place last night, there was this amazing cloud display.  It had bright, white clouds mixed with darker storm clouds, and the sun was setting (on the opposite side of the sky) and that was reflecting on the clouds.  It was amazingly beautiful, and I wished that I had brought my camera with me.  As I drove down the highway, ahead of me the lower half of the sky was dark gray - it was raining or looking like it would storm across the river.  Above the wide band of dark gray were several white puffy clouds (again the sun was reflecting on them).  In the band of gray was a portion of a bright rainbow.  It was another "I wish I had my camera for this" moment.  Twice in the span of five minutes I had two images that I would have loved to capture with camera, but I didn't have it with  me. 

Even though it's bulky and the bag is big, I think I just might carry my camera in the car with me for moments like that.  You just never know when you are going to happen upon a scene or event that you smake your head and say, "I wish I had my camera with me for this!"

Question:  Do you carry your camera with you in the car (or however you travel) and keep it with you wherever you go?  What is something you've come across and, thankfully, had your camera to capture the moment, or missed out and wished you had your camera with you?  Let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If It Looks Like A Duck...

Sorry that this photo isn't all that great.  For me, it was tricky to edit.  I took it this past June when the class I was doing my internship in went to a nearby park during the last week of school (I mistakenly wrote 2008 on it). 

The water in the little lake is brownish as it appears in the photo.  I wish it had been blue or even blue-green; it might have made the picture a little nicer. 

I didn't do any cropping on this, but I did play with the colour some.  I'm sure it can be fixed to look much nicer.  Also, the original shot didn't have any catchlight in the duck's eye, so I added a little one.  I have no idea if the procedure I tried was the correct way for that, but it worked.  Thankfully, tonight, while looking through the posts on Twitter, Digital Photography School (link is on sidebar) had an article on fixing up eyes in photos.  It was actually a little video, and I watched it to see what they did; one of the steps they did was to fix or add catch light in the eye.  I'll have to watch it again and try it on PSE again so I can practice that procedure.

I plan on going to the same location to get more shots of the fall foliage when it's out, and hopefully I can get more (and better) shots of the ducks.  I'm going to see if my best friend wants to go along and bring her daughter as well.  I'd love to try my hand at doing some portraits of them with the trees as a backdrop.  I've never really done portraits (though with my friend Michelle, another photographer who is fantastic with the hobby, let me try taking a few of her this spring and we got one really good shot), but I don't want to limit myself in subjects.  Besides, I have to learn some time.  Not sure if this will happen, but I'll talk to her about it this weekend and maybe make some tentative plans.

In the meantime, I do have some shots from last fall that I'll work at and post here as well.  I might even use one for my next post.  But, until then, happy snapping!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Painted Sunset

In February of 2008, I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt with three friends.  At the time I was living and teaching English in South Korea; it was the perfect opportunity, and probably once in a lifetime chance to visit Egypt.

The photo in this post was taken the evening we arrived in Alexandria.  It is of the Mediterranean at dusk, and is one of my favourite shots.  For this photo, I played around slightly with sharpness, but mostly adjusted the colouring of the sky.  The original shot wasn't as orangey - it was a little lighter and softer, but still pretty in my opinion.

I sometimes wonder at photography editors - those who adjust colours and tones and saturations, etc.  God has created beautiful work with His sunsets (and sunrises); who are we to make changes to His work that has been captured on film?  I will admit that the guiltiness was there for a brief time while I worked at this photo.  I guess I'm not really adjusting God's work, but the image that was captured on a camera that didn't turn out quite right.  The good Lord definitely does do beautiful work, and I always enjoy seeing just what He creates in the sky when the sun rises and sets.

I would like to take more shots of sunrises and sunsets; it's something I want to become better at, but I need to scout out some really good locations.  Just snapping pictures off the back deck with the house in back in all the shots just doesn't do it for me.  I would like to get more shots like the one above, or ones with trees or other pieces of nature in them as well - you know, a beautiful scenic shot at sunrise or sunset.

Do you have a favourite location to shoot sunrises/sunsets?  What is your favourite photo you've taken at these times of day?  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Different Angle

Sometimes you change the look of a picture simply by capturing the object from a different angle.  If taken face on, the object will probably look flat and two dimensional.  But trying different shots from different angles can add depth and interest to a photograph.  That's what I've tried to do with this photo of another dahlia.

I had thought of trying to adjust my position in the garden so that the center of the flower was face on with my lens.  However, I had done that with some other photos of this particular type of flower and I wanted something different.

I realize the image might not be as sharp as it could be, or the colours at their best, but I'm learning.  I like the way this one looks, but I'm sure a professional looking at this photo could see several things I could do differently or areas where I could make adjustments.

I was trying to focus more on the little curl of the petal, but I suppose I should have also tried to get the little yellow parts (not exactly sure of the technical name of them...) in sharper focus as well.  I also wonder if the petal just to the left of the curled part (maybe the same petal?) should have been more in focus.  I suppose if I had a decent tripod I could attach my camera to it and take several different shots and see which is more asthetically pleasing to the eye as well.  But, it's all part of the learning process.

I must say that I have been enjoying taking pictures lately, especially now that I have a copy of Photoshop Elements.  That program, which I am still learning as well, makes editing fun - even though, admittedly, I don't know how to use it to its full capacity.  In some cases, I haven't made a lot of adjustments to my photos, and in others, I've done quite a bit of adjusting (even though I don't know if what I've done would be considered good or not).

Something I read on one of the photography forums I've joined (and I can't recall which one it is offhand), that you should take 36 shots of your object from different angles, using different depths of fields, different ISOs, etc.  This should help you learn to take more creative shots and...well, other things as well.  I never thought of trying that today, when I was taking this photograph, but it might have been a good idea.  I might not have had the time to take 36 shots, but I might have at least tried several different shots with different focal points, apertures, etc. to see which one would look the best.  Sadly, I didn't.  It's something I'll keep in mind though...and hopefully remember the next time I'm taking pictures, no matter what the subject is.

I also think it's a good idea to take several shots because if you take only one, it might not turn out at all - it could be blurry, the focus could be on the wrong area...anything really.  By taking many pictures of your subject, you should get at least one good one (hopefully)...

What are your thoughts on taking several photographs of your subject, or do you think taking one or two is just fine?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Dahlia

I went out to my mom's garden again the other day to take some pictures of her dahlias.  The one I've posted here is one of my favourites.  It's a pom-pom one, and I really like them.  Normally I'm drawn to all things purple (including flowers), since that is my favourite colour; however, I really like the yellows and oranges in this flower.

I cropped the picture some as there was a blurred yellow flower in the background.  You can see a little of it in the upper right hand cornder.  It was a little too distracting and took away from where I wanted the focus of this photo to be - the orange flower.  Other than cropping, I adjusted colour, tone, sharpness, etc. by clicking on the automatic buttons because I'm not very good at doing that myself.

I worked on another dahlia photo as well - a red pom pom - and got more of a close-up shot.  It's not quite a macro shot, but it's close.  The only thing about that photo is the background - it looks a little too noisy (or at least what I think photographers have been referring to as being noisy) and I'm not sure how to fix it.  I'll post a picture of that one tomorrow, and maybe I'll be able to get some advice along the way on how to clean up the noise.  Then I can post the before and after photos.

I think I may have figured out why my Photoshop Elements wasn't working.  Some of the features would work, but then others (like the feature that allows you to write/type on the photo - I think that's referred to as the watermark, but I'm not really sure yet) would freeze my computer.  Anyway, I did a virus scan and it found a cookie.  I deleted it, and then tried PSE and it worked!  I don't know if that is what was causing my problem or not, but I'm just thankful it's working again!  Now I can continue making adjustments to my photos and, hopefully, making them better!  Though, I still have a long way to go to learn how to use the program.

My question for you:  What is your favourite thing to photograph, and why?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Dahlia

I see I forgot to post something yesterday.  I had intentions, but ended up going out for the evening and it was late when I got back.

This photo is one of the dahlias from my mom's garden.  She (and my dad when he was alive) grows several different kinds or varieties of this type of flower.  This little one is called a collarette (though I don't have any idea how to spell it). 

I adjusted the lighting of the picture slightly, but it was quite bright anyway because it was placed on the coffee table in front of the bay window with the morning sun shining in on it.  I also cropped it a little at the top and the bottom.

I had played around with darkening the colours and the overall look of the photo, but I didn't like the way it looked.  I was trying to capture the brightness of the sun shining in on the flower.

I've got several photos of many of the dahlias in m mom's garden, most of them haven't been edited though since I just got PSE 7 this past week.  I have a long way to go to learn how to edit and use this program, as well as knowing what to do to "fix" a photo.  I am enjoying the process so far - if my computer doesn't freeze up!

Today I had some problems when I was trying to edit another dahlia photo I took this evening.  I would try one thing and the computer would freeze.  Then I'd try it again and it would freeze.  The next time I would try something different and it would work, but I'd go to do something else and it would freeze up again.  I know I have enough memory on my laptop, but I don't know what's causing the program (and my computer) to freeze up.  This happened a couple of times when I first got the program, but then it would work for a long while.  Then, tonight, it started acting up again.  I'm going to defrag the laptop and see if that helps any.  If anyone has any idea on what could be causing this, please let me know in the comments.

Off to attempt PSE again and see if I can be successful!  Happy photographing!

Friday, September 11, 2009

And The Waves Came Crashing In

While I was in Australia, during the months of July and August, I had the opportunity to travel along the Great Ocean Road.  It is located along the southeastern coast of the country in Victoria, and is 243 km long.  I think we travelled the entire stretch, and if not, it was pretty close to it!  It took us from about 8:30 in the morning until around 10:30/11:00 that same night.  Mind you, we left from near Melbourne and stopped at pretty much all the stops along the way, including some lookouts that were located before the Great Ocean Road even started.  If you have the chance to visit Australia, I highly recommend the gorgeous scenery of this stretch of the coast.

In all honesty, I don't remember exactly where my photo was taken on my adventures that day, but it was an area where I couldn't get down any closer to take pictures.  For this one, I would have been up on the cliff/road side/rest stop area and looking down and across.

It seemed at the beginning of our journey that the water was quite calm, and the waves weren't too big.  We spotted some surfers in places (keep in mind I visited in their winter, and it was quite windy and chilly on our excursion), and not many of them were doing much surfing at the time.  Mostly they seemed to be waiting on their surf boards for just the right waves.

As we drove along, the waves would get a little bigger, the wind a little stronger, and the coastline would get battered and bashed by the waves.  Towards the end of the trip, there weren't any surfers in the water, and in fact, there were signs posted for people to not go swimming or surfing because it wasn't too safe.  We did see some whales at a couple of places, but they didn't jump out of the water.  We did see some fins and their backs though.  I was thankful to have my telephoto lens, even though I was still too far away to get any real good shots.  What I did get was enough to show that we were seeing whales though.  Those picutres aren't good enough to post, sadly.

In the coming days I hope to post photos of things other than animals (like the previous posts).  I have several shots of flowers (I love flowers and taking pictures of them), so those will more than likely be making appearances as well.  I think I need to branch out on photography subjects - there are more than just animals and flowers to take pictures of!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Only one shot for today.  This is the antelope picture I posted previously and finally figured out (with help from someone on the Digital Photography School forums) why I couldn't see this shot in with the original.  I had it saved under a PSD ending instead of a JPEG!  So, I went in and resaved it as a JPEG and lo and behold, there it was, right where I wanted it to be!

Again, for this image, I played around a little in PSE 7 last night as I was attempting to learn a little about the program.  Since I'm new to digital photography, and more recently to the whole editing process, I don't know how or where I should fix things.  For example, down in the lower left corner, it's a little dark (almost like a vignette to me)...I don't know what to do, or how I would fix that.  Also, when I attempt to slide the bars around to adjust things like sharpness, hue,saturation, etc., I don't know how to choose what looks better.  In most cases, no matter what I do, it looks fine (though in many cases it doesn't).

I realize the editing process is a learning process and it takes time and practice in order to become good at it.  This is what I want to do; therefore, I will continue to "play" around with PSE 7 and ask questions, try hints and tips, and follow technique examples in the photography magazines and books using my own shots.

If you have any suggestions, tips, etc. for ways I might try to improve  this picutre, I wouldn't mind hearing them.  I am in the learning process afterall.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photoshop Elements 7

This afternoon I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and installed in on my laptop (which indicates enough room to install and still have lots left over).  Twice now when playing with the program, my laptop froze on me and I couldn't do anything.  I don't know why this is happening but I'll definitely be looking into this.

I find it odd that there wasn't more of a manual included in the box, but there might be something online or on the CD.  Also, I know there are books and magazines, and I do have one magazine that is supposed to explain how to do things.  I'll have to dig it out and look into it.  I'm excited to have this program, and hope I can learn to use it well in order to enhance my photos.

I haven't forgotten to post some pictures today.  These two shots were also taken in Australia when I visited the Werribee Free Range Zoo.  None of the animals here are in cages; they all roam freely in wide enclosed areas. 

I realize in the first picture that it would have been better if I had captured all of the horns.  But, we were in a bus and it was difficult to do so without getting part of the bus or the people on the other side of me in the shots.  I'm sure there are lots about this picture that could be adjusted (I was actually attempting to fix it up in Photoshop when the computer froze on me).  I decided to post it as is for now, and at some point when I "fix" it up, I can post that version of the photo as well.

As for the second shot, I find the back too light/white.  That is something I would try to fix (it's supposed to be sky) in Photoshop.  Also, the lower left hand corner looks a little dark and blurry.  Not sure how I'd fix that, but I think it's something to try adjusting.

Well, thanks for visiting the blog.  Please feel free to leave comments.  I'm off to figure out Photoshop Elements now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Melbourne Zoo

These pictures were taken when I visited the Melbourne Zoo in August.  It's a huge place, and it took us several hours to get through the entire thing.  Zoos are great places to take pictures of animals, particularly those which might not be from your own neck of the woods. 
Sadly, in my opinion, cages or bars often ruin a great picture.  For example, the picture of the lion was taken through wire, but it looks (to me) a little soft or blurry in places from said wire.  It's not as bad as having to take the picture where the wire is directly in front of the animal or bird and you can tell that it is in a cage.  Thankfully, the picute of the emu had the wire fence in back of the bird.  I would prefer the picture to not have had the fence in it, but the emu was standing directly in front of it so it was hard not to get the wires in the frame.
The last shot is of a red panda.  It was in the feeding box and poked its head out.  I like how you can see the "food dust" on the whiskers.  I had cropped this on the computer so that most of the food box wasn't showing, however, for some reason it couldn't save the change.
I like these photos, but I am aware they could probably be adjusted in some way or another, or even have tried different perspectives or whatnot.  This is all part of the learning process for me.
Again, I don't have the camera specs, other than to say I used my Pentax K200 camera with my Sigma 70-300mm zoom lens (which also has macro capabilities at 300mm).  I love using this lens, but I need to get a stable tripod so I can use it better, especially for macro shots!
I'd love to hear your comments, helpful advice, etc.  Remember, I'm not looking for criticism, unless it's constructive, and nice/helpful.  I want to learn, not be turned off the hobby by rudeness.
Also, what do you find, if anything, challenging about zoo photography?  What is the best zoo shot you've taken?

Monday, September 7, 2009

For The Birds

I spent July and August in Australia, mostly concentrated around Melbourne (though I did get to Sydney for a weekend, and a week in the Gold Coast).  I was there with a group of others, and we were doing half of our teaching internship at various schools in that area. 

One day our professor (who went with us) took us up to the Dandenong mountains for the day.  The area is a rainforest, and it was very lovely there.  One of the stops along the way took us to Grants Picnic Ground where there are TONS of birds.  There were mainly three kinds - cockatoos, rosellas, and galahs.  I don't have any good shots of the rosellas that don't include people.  I don't want to post any of those pictures since I don't have permisson from the people who are in the pictures.

Sadly, I don't have these pictures on my camera any more, and I don't have the specs written down (something I'll have to remember to do in the future).  I can say that the camera I use is a Pentax K200 and the lens was the standard 18-55mm one that comes with the camera.

The photos of the cockatoos have been cropped, but nothing else was done to them.  Also, the picture of the galah feeding from my hand was left untouched.  Clicking on the photos will (or should) enlarge them.

I know these pictures aren't perfect, but I am learning.  I'd love to hear your comments or critiques.  Be helpful, but don't criticize.


I have had an interest in photography for a number of years now, but consider myself to be relatively new to the hobby - especially to digital photography.

A number of years ago I purchased a 35mm SLR camera and took a beginners course on how to use it.  I learned things such as shutter speed, focal point, depth of field, aperture and so much more; these terms and, more importantly, what they are and how they work, had been foreign to me.  I took several photographs of anything and everything (or almost) and fell in love with photography.  And, like we all learn at one point or another, not every photograph turned out the way I had invisioned it while snapping the picture.

Fast forward to last fall.  My 35mm camera hadn't been working.  I had taken several shots of my newborn nephew - at the time - and taken them in to be developped at one of those 1 hour developing places, only to be told when I returned that there was nothing on the film and told my camera more than likely needed fixing.  I called about getting it fixed and was told it would be cheaper just to buy a new camera.  After a number of years mulling over the decision and buying a digital point and shoot to get my by, I finally took the leap and bought a DSLR camera!

I'm still learning photography; still learning about the world of digital cameras.  I decided to create this blog as a way to showcase my learning.  I hope to post links to great articles, photography magazines, hints, tips, and mostly show off my photos.  This is going to be a learning process, and I know not every photo is going to be A1, but I hope that by keeping this blog, I can see the improvements I make in this photographic journey of mine!

Stick around - I'll be posting some pictures in the very near future!