Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Using Lightrooms AI and Preset Features

Forest Park Bandstand
Forest Park Bandstand

 I thought I was pretty good at keeping up with the changes in Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom, but it seems like there is always something I missed.  At our last photo club meeting the speaker introduced me to some features that have been there for months, and I was unaware of all the advantages they had.  

Presets

The subject was on making your own presets in lightroom and while that was a great topic, while I was listening to the speaker, he mentioned a few features that I had overlooked.  Lightroom, through the powers of AI, now gives you the ability to edit one section of a photo at a time with a single click.  In the masking feature you can select sky, background or subject and then edit just that portion of the photo.  In addition to this when you find a look that you like you can turn it into a preset and use the same editing for future photos.

One of the things that I had overlooked was the Lightroom in their latest update had added three groups of presets for you to use.  They are for portraits, sky, and subject. This is a real time saver when one of the presets works for the photo you are editing.

Adaptive Presets-Sky

Here are the presets that are available for your use in Lightroom.
  • Blue Drama
  • Dark Drama
  • Neon Tropics 
  • Storm Clouds
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
The photo at the beginning of the review is one that I took while on a visit to Forest Park in St. Louis.  It is of a historic bandstand, that has been a favorite of people visiting the park since the 1920's.  In this photo I used the 'Blue Drama' preset to add a bit of drama to a rather dreary sky.

Another tip I learned from the speaker at photo club, is that there is a slider above all the presets and when you use this slider you can alter the amount of the preset that can be used on the photo, anywhere from 0 percent to 200 percent.  Here are two examples using the same photo and using the 'Neon Tropics' preset.  This first example uses the preset at 200 %.
Bandstand with tropic sky

This version is interesting, but I think it is a bit too dramatic, so here it is using only 50% 'Neon Tropics' preset.


I do think I like the 50% use a bit better.

Adaptive Presets-Subject

For subjects Lightroom has six different presets added in and in addition you can always make and safe your own presets.  
  • Pop
  • Warm Pop
  • Soft
  • Cool Soft
  • Vibrant
  • Glow
To demonstrate the subject presets built into Lightroom I will give you a few examples below.  You will first need to select your subject in the photo using the masking feature and then select your preset and add the percentage of preset that work for your photo.  In my examples I will again use the Forest Park Bandstand photo.

The first one is using the Glow setting.  It is very subtle, but I like the look it portrays.

Bandstand


The preset used int the photo below is the Pop setting at 200%
Bandstand

Like I learned at my last photo club session, there is always something new to be learned in Lightroom, even for those of us who are seasoned users.  Here is a book that is sure to teach you a few tricks.    Lightroom for Beginners and Seniors  It can be purchased on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Review of Smart Bird Feeder Camera

Sparrow sitting on Camera Bird FeederFor Christmas this year, I received a Smart Bird Feeder Camera.  This feeder has provided my husband and I with hours of fun, watching birds up close.  Every time a bird lands on this feeder the camera takes a ten second video and then sends it to my phone. 

Features of the Smart Bird Feeder Camera

  • HD Image Quality
  • Two-way Audio
  • Waterproof and Dustproof
  • Infrared Night Vision
  • 145 degree Wide Angle View
  • Ai Bird Recognition
  • WiFi
  • Cloud Storage

Features I Particularly Enjoy

One of the features I really enjoy is the ability to share my photos with family and friends.  When the camera sends the video to my phone, I then have the ability to share that photo with family and friends.  There are numerous ways to share the video but two of the ways I use most often are by posting the video on my Facebook page or for a smaller audience I can message or email the video to the person of my choosing. The video below is one that I emailed to myself and then downloaded it on my computer.  It shows the camera captured a Tufted titmouse.  These little birds are quite quick, and I am not often able to capture them on camera, so I was really excited to see them on the feeder camera.  You will also notice at the end of the video a little chickadee approach.


Here is a photo that I was able to take of the Tufted titmouse sitting on the feeder.  I had a camera set up inside my house to take this photo, but it gives you another view of the bird feeder.
Camera Bird Feeder
Another great feature of the camera is that the bird feeder has solar panels on the top so there is no need to plug it in or continually recharge batteries.  I have now had it for a month, and it is running great.

Easy Set Up

I found the bird feeder camera easy to set up.  It came with easy-to-follow instructions and after unpacking everything from the box and making sure I had everything, I proceeded to download and install the Vicohome Ap on my phone.   Next, I followed the instructions to sync the camera with my WiFi.  I then had to determine where to place the camera to receive good connections and my deck post worked great so that is where the bird feeder is hanging.  In less than 30 minutes that feeder was ready to photograph the first bird.

Birds Find Feeder

It did take a couple of days for the birds to find the feeder but once they did, they kept coming.  I am surprised by the wide variety of birds that have found the feeder, so far, I have had the following birds posing for the camera.
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • Tufted titmouse
  • Chickadee
  • Northern Bluebird
  • Carolina Wren

Bird Feeder Camera's on Amazon

Amazon has several varieties of feeder cameras for sale.  Here are a couple that are similar to mine.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, December 28, 2023

Reviewing my 2023 Photography Journey

 

Split Rock Lighthouse surrounded by fall foliage

I consider every year to be part of my photography journey, where I learn some new techniques, enjoy new photographic opportunities, and hopefully increase my knowledge and skills.  2023 was no exception.  During the past year, I got out of my comfort zone and photographed four big events, I attended a photoshop summit where I learned a lot of new techniques and I even went back and reedited some old photos using what I have learned in the past 17 years since I started this journey.  The photo above is one of my past photos taken in 2010 and reedited this year.

Education

I always try to take a class each year either in person or online.  There are so many available, along with many You- tube instructional videos.  This year I listened to many free videos I found online and this fall I attended a Photoshop Summit online that had five days full of speakers all instructing us on various aspects of Photoshop.  They were very interesting and informative.  One of the subjects I found most interesting was about the new "generative fill" feature in Photoshop.  By just circling an area in a photo, you can remove an item or add something new.  Here is an example of a Halloween photo where I used this feature.  The first photo is my original photo.
Yard full of Halloween Decorations

In the next photo you will see that I first used generative fill to remove the mailbox and then added several additional items to the photo.  See if you can find all the additions.
Busy Yard with Halloween decor


I also used what I learned in the seminars to redo some older photos.  In this one the original photo had lots of people on the sidewalk leading to the lighthouse.  I used generative fill to remove them.
White lighthouse with leading path


Special Events

Sometimes I find I learn more when I take myself out of my comfort zone.  This year I was asked to photograph four major events.  Two of them were weddings of family members and two were events at church.

Both of the weddings were casual.  The first was held completely outdoors at my brother's home and the second was held at a small historic chapel with the reception being an outdoor event.  I was a little apprehensive at first, but the casual settings helped to put me at ease.  I carried two different cameras each with a different type of lens and settings and I was pretty pleased with the results.  Here is a photo from each of the weddings.
Outdoor wedding ceremony

Little White Chapel


The church events included the ordination of our newest pastor and a 20 year celebration of our senior pastor.  For these occasions I sat in the balcony and was able to photograph the ceremonies from above.  I used my camera that is a Sony mirrorless one that does great with lower light and inside photos without using a flash.  Here are two photos from those events.
Chapel of the Cross Lutheran

Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church

 

Group Support

I find photography groups to be a great way to meet people with similar interests and share ideas.  I belong to two different groups; one Create 52 is an online Facebook group and the second is an in-person photography club in our town.  

    Create 52

This online group challenges us to be creative in both our photography and in our post processing.  We are given a topic each week and then we create a photograph to match the topic.  An example of this is during the week before Christmas our topic was Christmas card.  For this topic, I took a photo of our Christmas tree and then took it into Photoshop.  In Photoshop, I added an artist filter and placed it on a textured background.  I then added lettering and finally used generative fill to add stars around the lettering.  Here is my result.
Card with Christmas Tree and Stars

    O'Fallon Photo Club

Our in-person photography club meets once a month.  In this group we share ideas with other photographers, and we also bring photo files to get constructive criticism.  We share ideas for places to go for photography and we take a few field trips each year.  At the end of each meeting, we are given a topic for the month, and we post photos of that topic in the clubs Facebook page.  This fall several of the club members met at our local botanical gardens on an evening photographer's night, where we were able to bring in our tripods and capture some low light photography. There was a Chihuly exhibit going on at the gardens so there were lots of great opportunities for nighttime photography.  Here are a couple of photos I took.

Nighttime shot of Chihuly work

Framed Chihuly Art


Mentoring

I volunteer with a group called Willows Way that provides support for challenged adults.  This group has a photography club and I serve as one of the mentors for the group.  Each month we take several of the participants and their aids to a different locale to photograph.  We have gone to local parks, museums, and farmers markets.  I love to work with these wonderful people and find I get as much from them as I give.  It is a wonderful opportunity.  This summer we went to a farmers market that also had a sunflower field.  We talked about unique ways to capture the sunflowers.  Here are two of my photos.
Back of Sunflowers

Closeup on Middle of Sunflower

As I close, I Wish You and Yours a Very Happy New Year.  May your year be filled with joy and peace and lots of new things to learn.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos this past year.
Bluebird on Heated Water Bowl

Changing Sky

Sunflower with Blurred Background





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Celebrating the Christmas Season in St. Charles

 

Christmas Decorated Bandstand

Christmas on historic Main Street in St. Charles Missouri is always a wonderful way to spend some time.  The shops are all decorated for the holidays, and it is very festive looking.  On this post I will tell you about the festival that is the highlight of the holiday on Main Street and give you a photographic tour of the area with photos I took on a beautiful December morning.

Looking down Main Street at Christmas
Main Street Decked out for the Holidays.

Storefront with Merchandise on Sidewalk
Storefront with Merchandise Displayed on Sidewalk

The photo above shows one of the creative ways the storeowner uses his merchandise to add to the festive decorations.

Windows and Doorways

The decorating of store windows and entrances adds to the festival atmosphere.

Decorated Doorways

Store Windows are Decorated with Merchandise


Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions is an annual festival held each year from Thanksgiving until Christmas.   It is a very exciting time for young and old alike. Each Friday evening through Sunday evening you will find a host of storybook characters walking around Main Street.  Characters like the Sugar Plum Fairy, Jack Frost and Santa's from many lands are all handing out trading cards.  My granddaughters loved to try to collect all the cards when they were younger and came to visit.

At noon on Saturdays and Sundays all of the characters follow Santa and Mrs. Claus on a parade down Main Street, while children both young and old line the streets to watch.  When not in the parade Santa can be found in the railroad station where you can get your photo taken with Santa.

Other traditions include carolers walking the streets and singing carols and vendors selling things like roasted chestnuts and hot Wassil.

Children can send a letter to Santa and drop it in the special mailbox.

red mailbox



Decorations Galore

Wreaths are found everywhere on buildings, windows and doorways.

Green and red wreath


This big tree and the red sleigh in front of it is a favorite place to stop and have take a photo of your group.


Red sleigh in front of Christmas Tree

Greenery Decoration in Tub


I hoped you enjoyed seeing one of the ways we celebrate the holidays in my area.  

A few years ago, I wrote about Main Street St Charles with an emphasis on the history of the area.  You can find it at this link.  Photographing Christmas in Historic St. Charles


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

Sunflower and Pumpkin patch
Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the Review This Blog over the past year.  We, the writers of Review This, truly appreciate you and wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.

My Photography

One of the things I am very thankful for is my hobby of photography, so today I thought I would share with you some of the photographs I have taken over the past year.
Robin on Birdbath

This photo was taken at my backyard birdbath where a Robin stopped for a drink on a cool November morning.  Birds are one of my favorite things to photograph.

Here us a hummingbird that I photographed at a feeder in my backyard.
Hummingbird at Feeder



Yellow Flower against Blue Sky

I love to visit local parks and photograph all of the beautiful wildflowers that are growing there.
Colorful Boats along the Shore


The photo above was taken at a local park where I went for an outing.  The colorful boats on the shoreline caught my eye.

The bandstand in the photo below stands in Forest Park in St. Louis where I took my granddaughters to see a musical at the Muny Opera.
Bandstand reflected in Water


Sometimes I only need to go into my own yard to capture the beauty in nature.  The raindrops on these Pink Primrose make a pretty photo.
Pink Primrose with Raindrops


 Sunflowers are always a favorite photograph of mine.  I visited a local sunflower field several times this summer.
Bright Yellow Sunflowers in a Field

I will leave you with several fall photos from my neighborhood.  Fall is my favorite time of the year.
Colorful Fall Leaves

Yellow Leaves

Colorful Fall Leaves

May You and Your Family Enjoy the Beauty this Season has to Offer.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, November 9, 2023

National Bird Holidays and Awareness Days- 4thQuarter

 

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


 When I decided to write a review on bird holidays, I was surprised to find out that there are many different bird holidays.  So, I changed my thinking and decided to do four different reviews, one for each quarter of the year, and in each review, I would pick out a sampling of the holidays for that quarter.  This is now my review for the last quarter of the year.  You can find links to my first three reviews at the end of this review. This quarter I have picked a bird holiday or awareness day for each month.

October 3- Butterfly and Hummingbird Day

Two Butterflies on Flower
Butterflies on a Pink Flower

Although a butterfly is not a bird, it certainly has a lot in common with the hummingbird.  Here is a list of similarities I found on the site Bird Tipper.Com   Here is the link : National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day - BirdTipper

Hummingbird and Butterfly Similarities
  • Both have nectar from flowers as a food source
  • Both are attracted to certain colorful flowers   (I find in my garden that bright red or pink flowers really attract both of butterflies and hummingbirds)
  • Both are very important for pollination
  • Both help to provide a safe environment for local plant life
  • Both  are necessary parts of our everyday life
In addition to these points I would say that both are fascinating to watch and to learn about.  As a photographer, I also find them both to be wonderful photographic subjects, although they both require patience to catch them at their best.  Here are a couple of photographs I have taken in addition to the ones above.
hummingbird

hummingbird

Choose your favorite way to celebrate Butterfly and Hummingbird day by checking out the suggestions at the bird tipper link listed above.

November is Adopt a Turkey Month

Turkey has long been the staple for the American Thanksgiving feast.  Because of this the turkey population is greatly depleted during the month.  To try to offset this and save some of the loss of the turkey population, certain groups have banded together to try to save some of the turkeys by championing an adoption process for turkeys.  The website for the Adopt a Turkey is   https://nationaltoday.com/adopt-a-turkey-month/
They suggest the following three activities to choose from in celebrating adopt-a-turkey month.
  • Adopt a turkey as a pet
  • Donate a turkey to an animal sanctuary
  • Go meatless for Thanksgiving
For more information on the process and the history of the holiday check out the website above.

December 14 through January 5-Christmas Bird Count Week

The bird count week is celebrated annually and is a tradition that is over 100 years old.  It honors bird lovers from around the world who head out to count and record millions of bird siting's each year.

The bird count is sponsored by the National Audubon Society.  You may go to this link  https://nationaltoday.com/christmas-bird-count-week/  to find out more about the history of this count.

Three things you can do to celebrate bird count week are :
  • Participate in the Bird Count
  • Take up bird-watching
  • Discourage hunting for pleasure
I encourage you to go to www.audubon.org to sign up to receive more information and find out how you can help.  I have just signed up and I found out from their map there is a location near me where the Christmas-bird-count will be taking place this year.  I'm looking forward to getting more information.

More of my Bird Photography from this Year



Red Winged Blackbird on Bush

Blackbird on Sunflowers

Goldfinch on Feeder

Links to Bird Holiday from the First Three Quarters







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Review of Missouri Botanical Garden

 

Purple Water Lily
Water Lily and Reflection
Missouri Botanical Garden in South St Louis is a wonderful place to discover nature and so much more.  The garden was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw on his country estate.  Today it is a National Historic Landmark and is considered to be one of the top 3 botanical gardens in the world.

Some highlights to see and do when you visit the garden include:
  • Climatron- a geodesic dome that is used as a conservatory.
  • The Doris L Schnuck Children's Garden- this area is a delight for children and I have spent many hours there with my granddaughters when they were visiting.
  • Japanese Garden- this beautiful area is one of my favorite spots to stroll in the garden.
  • Chinese Garden- another favorite spot of mine in the garden.
  • Tower Grove House
  • William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening
These are but a few of the many interesting highlights in the garden.  The garden is also the host to many festivals and special events.  I recently toured the garden on a special night they had for photographers to photograph the Chihuly works of art that were featured in the garden from May through October.

Chihuly Exhibit

Dale Chihuly is a world-renowned artist who does amazing works with glass.  In his works in the Missouri Botanical Garden art and nature are united in a fantastic exhibition.  

I spent several hours at the exhibit in mid-September where I entered the garden at about 6 pm when it was still daylight and stayed for several hours so that I could also capture the beauty of the Chihuly art lit up in the night.  Here are a few of the photographs that I took. The first one shows the first Chihuly art I saw when entering the garden.
Lime Green Glass Art
Chihuly-Vivid Lime Icicle
The next three photos show a beautiful red and yellow tower that I photographed first in the daylight, then closeup and finally a nighttime shot with the crescent moon above it. 
Bright red and yellow glass art
Chihuly Tower in Daylight

Section of Chihuly Art
Closeup of Chihuly Tower

Chihuly Art at Missouri Botanical Garden
Chihuly Tower at Night

The next photo was taken at night in the lake by the Japanese garden.
Chihuly Art in Japanese Garden
Float Boat and Niijima Floats

Here are three more of photos from the exhibit.
Boat filled with Chihuly Glass Art
Boat with Chihuly Art in Reflecting Pool

Blue  Glass Reeds
Turquoise Martins in Chinese Garden

White Tower through Oval Opening
White Tower in Blanke Boxwood Garden


These are just a few of the many Chihuly works of art throughout the garden.  It was truly an inspiring experience.

Water Lilies in the Garden

Along with the Chihuly works I was able to enjoy the flowers in the garden when we first entered in the daylight.  My favorite flowers that were blooming in mid-September were the beautiful water-lilies.  They were in several pools within the garden.  The ones I liked the best were the ones that I photographed in the reflecting pools in the central axis area of the garden.  My favorite is the purple one in the opening photo for this article.  The light was fading and it really made the reflections of the flowers stand out.  Here are a few more of my favorites.
Lavender Water Lily and Reflection

Pink Water Lilies with Reflections
Water Lily

White Water Lily
Reflecting Pool

Purple Water Lily
Stunning Purple Water Lily

I hope you have enjoyed this brief review of the Missouri Botanical Garden and if you visit the area I hope you will be able to enjoy the Garden.

Origami in the Garden

In 2021 the Garden hosted an exhibit of origami art.  Here is a link to a review that I wrote. Origami in the Garden





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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