Making Lemonade…

As photographers, we all like to share our work with others. We have our websites, blogs, and/or social outlets like Facebook where we post our images for others to see. We also enjoy reading other’s comments about the images we share as it gives us a sense of how we are doing. However, one thing that may go unrealized, is that for every one great image we share with others, we have at least one image (or likely more) that is far from great and typically ends up in the trash bin. The one thing that ruins an otherwise great image is a lack of sharpness. You may have the most beautifully lit and well composed image but if it lacks sharpness, it’s destined for the trash bin. Trust me, some images are more painful to delete than others. In fact, it’s so painful that I keep these in a “close but no cigar” folder hoping that one day I will be able to open that folder and find that time has made them sharp. Oh if only it could. But in the past 5 years that I’ve been shooting digital, every one of the images in that folder are still blurred. Maybe 5 years from now they’ll be sharp. Hey, a guy can hope can’t he? 🙂

Now, I know they will forever be blurred, but I keep them because I know that sooner or later, the other half of my photo skills are going to get caught up and I will be able to revert to Plan B to salvage these images. These other skills I am referring to are using Photoshop and other specialty software for photographers. Now my Photoshop skills are about average for a normal workflow, but there is so much that can be done with this and other software that I’ve really only scratched the surface of processing possibilities. To really learn these, like any subject, requires a lot of reading and practice and as a doctoral student working on a dissertation, I’ve used what free time I do have to take pictures and enjoy my family. Saying that though, I have dabbled a little with the artistic filters that come built in with Photoshop.

The image highlighted here is my first real attempt to have fun with the artsy side of photography. This green jay was flying in to land on a perch next to a feeder I had setup. The morning light was beautiful and I was hoping to capture this exact image on this particular shoot. Everything worked as I had intended, except for the part about being tack sharp. It was close, but we all know that close only counts with hand grenades and horse shoes. Hoping to salvage this image, I experimented with Photoshop’s “Crosshatch” filter. Mind you, it’s only a basic experimentation but I rather like the effect. As my art skills develop I’ll try and do more with it but for now, I have at least found a way to make lemonade out of an otherwise very bitter lemon.

Green Jay: Crosshatch Art Filter With Medium Brush Stroke (28) applied. Canon 1DMkII | 500/4.5 | ISO 400

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Black-Crested Titmouse

The black-crested titmouse is a fan favorite of birders and photographers alike. Found in most of Texas, eastern Mexico, and a small part of Oklahoma, these birds will nest in tree cavities, fence posts, bird boxes, and even telephone poles. They will forage on insects, spiders. snails, acorns, seeds and sometimes, they will forage upside down. If you live within their range and are in an area where there is heavy tree growth, you can easily attract them with suet and sunflower seeds. 

Photographing on a 65-acre piece of brush near Linn, Texas, I used a mixture of sunflower seed and chicken scratch to attract these birds. I attracted other species as well, but these songbirds were frequent visitors. On this particular shot, I’m not quite sure why this bird decided to hang upside down, but I was sure glad that he did.

Until next time, remember to spend some time with your kids outdoors. — KEVIN

Image

Black-Crested Titmouse| Canon 1DMkII| 500/4.5| f8| ISO400

Murphy’s Law: It’s Not A Matter Of If….But When

Recently, the logic board on my Macbook Pro malfunctioned with no warning whatsoever and I had to send it in for repair. It was one of those things where everything was fine during the day but later in the evening, nothing but a black screen. I had experienced a computer crash years ago when I had a PC. Back then I had my files backed up on an external drive but reinstalling all of the software (Lightroom, Photoshop, MS Office, etc) was a complete chore. Having become a Mac user a few years ago, several photographers on Naturescapes.net suggested I use Apple’s Time Machine as a backup of my entire computer. Trusting their advice, I bought a 1TB external HD from Seagate and dedicated it to Time Machine. Here is how Apple describes it on their website:

Time-Machine Icon

Time Machine is the built-in backup that works with your Mac and an external drive (sold separately) or Time Capsule. Connect the drive, assign it to Time Machine, and start enjoying some peace of mind. Time Machine automatically backs up your entire Mac, including system files, applications, accounts, preferences, music, photos, movies, and documents. But what makes Time Machine different from other backup applications is that it not only keeps a spare copy of every file, it remembers how your system looked on any given day—so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past.

From my recent experience, their description is completely accurate. Furthermore, I’d like to emphasize that part about “peace of mind”. Once my computer was returned, I started it up and was prompted to connect the Time Machine backup. That’s all it took and about 3 hours later, my computer was restored exactly as I had last used it. Well, not exactly as I had not backed up in two weeks but all my recent images were still on their cards and the few excel files I had modified were easily restored. Photoshop, Lightroom, iTunes, MS Office, EndNote, everything I use was restored. I did not have to find the CD’s and manually reinstall all that software. My most important files (doctoral manuscripts, saved articles, photos, etc.) were all right there. Everything was configured and operating exactly as the day I had last used it. I can’t tell you how impressed and relieved I was, but I’m trying to tell you in this blog.

Seagate External Hard Drive, 1TB, Stock Photo.

As for the Seagate external hard drive. I’ve trusted Seagate for the past 10 years. I’ve also used Western Digital with confidence over the past 5 years. Drives from each of these makers have proven reliable. My photos are all stored on a Western Digital external hard drive and another Western Digital drive serves as a backup to that one. The Seagate remains dedicated to Time Machine.  I cannot emphasize enough that if you are operating a computer and do not have a backup, go out and buy an external drive right now and make sure you protect yourself. Computers are technological tools with working components that eventually will wear out so as I say in the title of this blog, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Don’t get caught by surprise.

Until next time, keep shooting and remember to backup those files. I’ll heed my own words and try to do both more frequently 🙂 — Kevin