15-Minute Photo Challenge: Country Church

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Country Church. Canon 7D | ef-s 15-85mm | ISO 400

It’s winter here in Georgia, and the once vibrant fall colors of the leaves on deciduous trees have dropped, juxtaposing their fine branch ramification against the evergreens in the forest. I did not set out on a photographic excursion on this day. We have friends from Texas visiting for the holidays and we took advantage of warmer weather to go for a bicycle ride at a local garden/nature park. I carried the camera along to document the children enjoying each other; but, as a nature/outdoor photographer I’m always on the alert for a great photo. After a few miles up and down hills, we rode up on this old church in the woods. It’s a beautiful scene and we would be there for no more than 10-minutes. Of course, the family images with the church came first. After that, I had to make some fast decisions on what to capture.

The water was extremely still so I had a great reflection to work with. The sky was dull and grey, but the light was diffused and soft. I decided to compose the image you see here but in the dull grey light, the colors were less than vibrant. In Photoshop, I decided to render this as an oil painting. Since I opted for an artistic impression, I punched up the reds and yellows to give the image a little pop. I used the oil filter tool in CS6 and adjusted the sliders until I was happy with the overall look. I used a layer mask on the window and a couple of select items on the church to leave that detail.

Soon after, we were back on the bicycle trail enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells along the piney wood trail. Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

Merry Christmas To All…

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It’s Christmas Eve on the North American Continent, and as of this posting, it’s already Christmas day in places like Japan and Australia. I thought I would pause from my wildlife images and post these Christmas themed photos I took at a public garden I visited recently. Today is a special day for Christians around the globe as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m not sure how others around the world celebrate this day, and respect that some of other faiths do not celebrate it, but for most Christians here in the USA, it is a time of family gatherings.

As I write this post, my mom, sisters, aunts, and cousins are busy making preparations to cook the turkey, ham, tamales, side dishes, and many desserts for tomorrow’s big feast. My aunt Esmy makes the best chocolate pie and woe to any of my nieces’ visiting boyfriends who dare to cut a slice of that when I am around. There are plenty of cheesecakes for them I say!!! I know, what about the spirit of Christmas? Ok, so they are actually allowed to eat the Chocolate pie, but I’ll give them an Eastwood-like stare and muffled growl as they put a slice, a very small slice, on their plate. That much is certain, lol! It’s a fun time for all in South Texas and with so many family members gathered together, my mom’s house is affectionately known as Animal Kingdom.

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This summer marked my move from Texas to Georgia so this Christmas, I will not be returning to celebrate the holiday with my Texas family…but we will be there in spirit, and maybe Skype. I guess the boyfriends will get a pass on my chocolate pie this year. Instead, my immediate household will spend our first Christmas in Georgia and I will be smoking a Chicken on my new offset smoker. While Christmas day will not be as wild as I am used to, some very good friends will be visiting us the following day and we are looking forward to their visit.

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So as we celebrate this very special day and time, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Pyrrhuloxia

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Pyrrhuloxia (Male) Bathing in South Texas Pond.

I think I should spend more time going through my older files. As many photos as I shot on this particular day, I guess I just glossed over this image when I was reviewing them. While closely related to the Northern Cardinal, they have more of a parrot-like bill and a longer, more elegant crest, though I wouldn’t claim the wet crest in this image to be elegant. 🙂 I do happen to like the paint-brush like red feathers presented here. When photographing in the extreme South Texas heat, having a water source is a treasure for a nature photographer.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Whitetail in Velvet

Backlit Whitetail In Velvet.

Backlit Whitetail In Velvet.

I was going through my whitetail files and found this image I had taken a couple of years ago. I thought I would share this now because it serves as a good example of why I generally do not delete photos if they are sharp. This buck came in so close that I had no choice but to crop the legs off in the composition. Missing legs can be a distraction to some viewers but since this photo was tack sharp, I filed it away and forgot about it.

Looking for a different image in my files yesterday, I came across this photo. Seeing it again two years later, I decided to process it because it had many things going for it. Sharpness has already been mentioned, but the backlighting has formed a beautiful rim light around the velvet antlers and these really pop against that warm, creamy background. The buck has a very alert pose, with ears finely attuned to whatever has captured his gaze. Taken in unison, these things make for a very pleasing image. I’ll leave it up to each viewer to determine whether this photos’ strengths overcome the missing legs but as for me, I am happy to have it in my files.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN