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

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Reviewing The Joy of Bird Feeding

 

Eastern Bluebird


My husband and I enjoy watching the birds in our backyard.  We can sit at our kitchen table and watch the view through our sliding glass doors.  We were very excited when we received a Christmas gift from a friend to give us lots of great ideas for attracting and feeding our feathered friends. This gift was a book entitled The Joy of Bird Feeding. In this post I will give you a preview of the tips found in each chapter of this book.  I will also share some of the photographs that I have taken of birds in our backyard.




Chapter 1: The Five Steps to Bird Feeding Mastery

The first chapter gives a thorough plan on setting up your backyard to attract the biggest variety of birds.  It helps you to set up a plan to decide what foods to serve and when to serve them.
Downy feasting on Suet Pellets


Chapter 2: Thoughtful Bird Feeding Stations Elements in Detail

Details of the elements needed for feeding birds are described in this chapter.  One of the items suggested is year-round water.  In the photo below you see a group of bluebirds enjoying fresh water from the heated dog bowl I have placed on our deck on a cold winter's day.


Chapter 3: The Birds

This chapter gives us some interesting information on the birds that are found in our backyards.  The introduction talks about year-round birds, seasonal residents and migrant birds. It is also talks about how the birds find feeders.  The chapter then goes into photos of various birds and identifying information.  It is quite comprehensive.  Here is a Carolina Wren that is a frequent visitor to my backyard.
Carolina Wren

Chapter 4: The Foods

Great detail is given on the various foods that are available for birds. There is also a section on foods from your kitchen that are good for birds and a section on fun food shapes.  Here is a bird on a Penguin feeder that we received for Christmas.
House Finch on Fun Feeder


Chapter 5: The Feeders

Are you undecided about what types of feeders to purchase?  This chapter goes into detail on each type of feeder and tells you the pros and cons of each.  I like to have a variety of feeders in my backyard. Here is a photo of some Cardinals and a finch on one of my feeders.
Cardinals and Finch


Chapter 6: Poles and Hangers

Here we find some great ideas for poles and hangers including a nifty pole system.  I will need to look into that.

Chapter 7: Critter Solutions

Unwanted critters can play havoc with your feeding stations.  This chapter gives you ideas on how to mitigate the critter issues.  We have lots of squirrels in our yard and I have some squirrel proof feeders and others that the squirrels love to visit.  We enjoy seeing their antics too.  Here is a squirrel at one of our feeders.

Chapter 8: Situations and Solutions

Have you wondered why the birds aren't coming to your feeders or what you can do about the messy deck?  The answers to these and other issues can be found in this chapter.

Chapter 9: Buying and Storing Bird Food

Here you will find lots of tips for buying the best foods and storing solutions for your bird food.

Chapter 10: Common-sense Bird Feeding Hygiene

Here I find a lot of tips for making your bird feeding stations safe for the birds.  Some I have done, but there are certainly a lot of areas where I can improve.  

Chapter 11- Fun Bird Feeding Activities

This chapter is full of some great bird feeding activities including things like hand feeding birds and watching birds when you are not at home.  The activity that most interests me is photographing birds.  I love to set up my backyard to make some good backgrounds for taking bird photos and this book had lots of tips. 
 Here is a favorite photo I caught of some bluebirds turning their backs to the camera.  I thought it made a good ending for this review.





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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Reviewing Photos from 2021

 

Beauty from Behind

Whether you are taking photos for fun or professionally it is a great exercise each year to review the photos you took the year before.  By doing this you will help yourself to become a better photographer. Looking through the previous year's photos and picking your favorites will tell you a lot about yourself as a photographer.  It will give you a better idea of what type of photos you tend to gravitate to and also what types of photos you need the most improvement.  I challenge you to take some time to look at last years photos and pick out few that you feel are your best. 

My Review of 2021 Photos

I took this challenge in a couple of photography groups in which I participate.  I found it to be a fun and rewarding experience. 

I have three different cameras that I use on a regular basis.  A Sony DSLR A57, a Sony mirrorless 6300, and my iPhone 11 Pro.  When I went through the photos, I did not look for ones from each camera, but rather just looked for the photos I liked.  I was surprised to find that all three cameras were represented in the 13 photos I ended up choosing as my favorites.

I had played around a lot in Lightroom and Photoshop during 2021 and I found a few photos in my favorites that reflected some of the new features I learned.  But I also noted that some of my favorites just went back to basic good photography without any enhancements added.

My Favorites for 2021

One of the photos I really liked was a photo of the Wolf Moon taken on January 28, 2021.  This photo was taken with my Sony DSLR and a 600mm lens.  I used an f stop of 6.3 and a speed of 1/400.  
I always like to photograph birds and birds in the snow are particular favorite shots.  Here is one I captured in February with my DSLR with the zoom at 250mm.  It was taken through my sliding glass doors of some Cardinals at a feeder on our deck.

Since we were homebound much of 2021, I found that I had a lot of backyard bird photos.  Here is another favorite.  A bluebird I took in April.  Again, with my DSLR camera this time with the lens zoomed in to 600mm.

In April we got a new dog, Dixie, and she became a favorite model.  Here is a photo I took of her in May.  This one was taken with my mirrorless camera and a 25mm lens.  I edited it in Lightroom to select the subject and then black out the background with the exposure slide.  I like the effect.

In June I went to a lavender farm to find some new subjects for my photography.  I took several shots with my mirrorless camera.  This one caught my eye with the bee on the plants.  It was taken with a 210mm lens and enhance in Photoshop with a Neural filter.  I like the look the filter gave to the photo.
Lavendar Farm

In July I captured these coneflowers with my iPhone.  It really does take great photos and the colors are brilliant.  

A photo outing in September was to Art Hill in St. Louis where there was a display to honor those who were killed from 9/11.  It was called Flags of Valor and this photo was taken with my mirrorless camera with a 24mm lens.

In late September we took a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden.  I had my Sony mirrorless camera with me.  It is really my go to camera now whenever I am out and about.  It is lightweight and I think takes a quality photo.  Here is a photo taken of some water lilies at the garden.
The next photo, also from the botanical garden is of the Japanese bridge.  Fall colors were just started to come out so I took this photo into Photoshop and enhanced it with a Neural filter.

In October I went to a farm with a group that I am the mentor for their photography club.  We took photos of pumpkins and animals and some farm machinery.  Here is a photo of a tractor.  I was using my mirrorless camera and this one I took into Photoshop and used one of the Neural filters.

In December I went with the group to downtown historic St. Charles.  Here is a photo I took of the visitor center.  Again, I was using my mirrorless camera.
 
The photo at the beginning of this article is one I took in October of a final flower on the pot on our deck.  I was using my Sony mirrorless camera.

My Photos on Zazzle

I enjoy making Zazzle products from my photos.  Here are a couple I made from my favorite photos from 2021.




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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Reviewing New Features in Photoshop

 

Some years we just don't get a lot of snow, and when we do it is not necessarily when I'm available to photograph it. In December I visited our historic downtown area in St. Charles and took a photo of their lovely, decorated tree and sleigh. I thought to myself that it would sure look great with a little snow around it.

Winter Scene in Photo Shop

When I got home and edited my photos from my trip on Main Street, I decided to try some of the new Neural Filters in Photoshop.  I opened my photo in PS and then went to the filter tab.  I clicked on Neural Filters and when that box opened up, I looked down the left column and clicked on the landscape feature.  I now had several options at that top showing various landscape scenes.  I clicked on one showing a winter scene with snow and it was quickly applied to my photo with the result you see in the photo above.  Here is what the original photo looked like.

I really think this feature could work well in creating a winter holiday card.  Here is another before and after in using this feature.  This one is a photo of the visitor center all decked out for the holidays.
Here is the before photo.
St. Charles Visitor Center


The photo below is after I applied the neural filter in Photoshop using the landscape feature and then choosing the winter scene.  I used it for a photo challenge called "cold as ice" and I certainly think it gives you that feeling.
Photo with Winter filter Applied


More Neural Filter Choices in Photoshop

There are quite a few different filter choices in the 2021 updates.  Along with the winter scene there are also landscape choices where you chose what season you would like to make your photo.  Here is a photo I took at a farm at the beginning of autumn before the colors were really popping.  I used the autumn filter to give it a real autumn color scheme.
Autumn at the Farm

Another series of filters in the neural filter line is the artist series.  In this group of filters, the styles are changed to fit various artists styles.  You might find a Monet style or a Van Gogh style among many other styles.  The artists are not listed, you just have to recognize their styles.  That is one thing I hope they will change in the future.  I would love to know what artists style each filter is emulating. Here is a barn door photo that I took at a farm and then edited it using the first artists filter available in the artist section.
New Artist Style #1




Purchase Creative Cloud Subscription


I love my Creative Cloud subscription.  It gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom and gives me all updates as they become available.  It is cost effective at only $9.99 a month.





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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Reviewing New 2021 Updates in Lightroom


Tractor Edited with Vintage Preset

In October of 2021 Adobe Creative Cloud introduced a series of updates to their photo editing programs.  My favorite program in the Creative Cloud is Lightroom Classic and I am very excited about all of the updates that were included in the latest version.

Presets

One of the updates in Lightroom Classic is a number of new presets that are available to the user.  Presets are a series of editing features that are put together to give a certain look or feel to a photograph.  With these presets the photographer can give a slight change to the photograph in just one click.  Some of the presets included in the new update were ones for portraits, landscapes, vintage looks, retro looks, black and white and many more.  In the photo at the top of this page I took a photo of an old tractor and used one of the vintage presets on it. In deciding which preset to use I merely ran my mouse over each choice and a preview of the photo with that preset was displayed.  I then chose the one that I felt best fit the mood I was looking to create.

Masking

The biggest and I believe the best new feature is the Masking feature.  In this feature all of the local adjustment tabs were merged into a single masking icon.   The existing adjustment tools were all moved to this icon and in addition two new options were added.  These are the options I am really excited about and feel I will use often.  They are Select Sky and Select Subject.  These options use artificial intelligence to select the sky, people, animals and other object in the photo.  You then have the ability to easily adjust just the selected objects.  Let me show you with a few examples.

Select Subject

Often, I have a great photo of a subject, but the background is too cluttered.  In this photo my husband is seated in front of a busy looking bookshelf.  I was able to use the Select Subject and with just a couple of clicks I selected his photo and then was able to pull the exposure all the way down on the background to turn in black.

I will give you another example.  In this photo you see a bird but it is really not standing out in the photo.  Here is the original.

Here is the same photo with the bird really standing out.

Here are the editing steps I took to create this look.  First of all I cropped the photo to pull the bird in close.  Next I used the mask feature and did a Select Subject to isolate the bird.  After that I inverted the mask to have the background selected and I played with the various sliders to get the background I wanted.  In this case I used the exposure, temp, tint, clarity and dehaze sliders.  All of this took just a couple of minutes and I believe I went from a mediocre photo to one I really like.

Select Sky

I have often gotten a great photo of a subject but was very disappointed with the sky.  I knew I could fix the sky, but this was often very time consuming.  With the new Select Sky feature I can now change the sky in seconds.  Here is an example of one photo I took on a day when it was very cloudy but the direction the photo was taken from made the sky appear very plain.  First the original photo.

I took this photo and went into the Masking feature and did a Select Sky.  I then used the dehaze and texture sliders to give more depth to the sky.  Here is the resulting photo, which I like much better.

Here is the software I use for editing.  I love how easy it is to use and of course the results.
 




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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving from Review This Reviews

 

Happy Thanksgiving
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  From the Staff of Review This Reviews we wish you a very Happy and Thankful Day.

Thanksgiving Day History

On this Thanksgiving Day, I thought I would share a few history facts for your enjoyment.  If you'd like you could use these to share or quiz family and friends as you gather for the holiday.  They could make great conversation starters too.   My reference for this information is history.com.  
  • It is commonly thought that 1621 was the year of the first Thanksgiving in America.  During the fall of this year the Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a feast to celebrate the harvest.
  • The first Thanksgiving was not just one day but was a three-day festival.
  • The most likely menu for this feast was deer, Indian corn, fowl, barley and nuts, lobster and mussels.
  • This first feast did not become an annual tradition for centuries later.
  • In 1789 George Washington declared a national holiday for Thanksgiving and it was celebrated that year on Thursday, November 26th.  But still it did not become an annual holiday nationwide.
  • In 1827 Sarah Josephia Hale (she is an author best known for the writing the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb") started a 30-year campaign to make Thanksgiving an annual holiday.  She even published recipe cards for Turkey, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie.

  • Finally in 1863 during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving to be held each year in November.

Thanksgiving Traditions Today

Menu

Today the most common Thanksgiving menus include:
  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
After these staples that are common to most American households each family adds their own touch to the Thanksgiving feast.  In our family we add green bean casserole, hot rolls, and a sweet potato dish with a sweet topping.

Parades

Another tradition in America is the Thanksgiving Parade.  For those that don't go to a parade they may watch the big Thanksgiving Day parade from New York City on television.

Volunteering

Volunteerism is big on Thanksgiving too.  Communities collect food for the needy and serve hot meals for those less fortunate.

Pardoning a Turkey

In 1989 President Bush came up with a new quirky tradition of pardoning a turkey.  This tradition has carried on with each President since that time.  This is a fun tradition that is seen on the "news" each year.  The turkey will then be able to live out its life on a farm.

Fall Harvest

As you and your family celebrate the holiday may you take time out to remember to be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving 



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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Autumn Colors in Missouri 2021

 

Fall Color November 2021

I love the beautiful colors of Autumn.  It is my favorite time of the year and after the long hot summer I am always looking forward to the cool, crisp days of Autumn.  This year the hot days of summer seemed to never stop, in fact they carried on well into September.  This delayed the beautiful colors of Autumn to well into October and in my area the peak didn't come till the first week in November.

Peak Colors in Missouri

In order to discover what is normal for peak colors in Missouri I went online and read the Missouri Conservation website.  
That site lists the normal time for Autumn colors beginning about the middle of September, with the peak being by mid October.  But as you can see in the photo below at my home in the St. Louis Missouri area the changing colors were only beginning at the time of the Autumnal Equinox on September 22.
View from my Deck
Here is a photo from a walk in the park in mid September when the leaves are getting a tinge of color.
September

The Missouri Conservation website states that predicting fall color in Missouri can be difficult.  Missouri is blessed with a large variety of bushes, shrubs and trees which change colors at different rates.  The entire autumn color season will last from 4-6 weeks and where the best colors are best will change according to what varieties of foliage is in a particular area.  The changing of colors in Missouri start in the northern part of the state and progress southward.  The weather plays a big part in when the colors change.  This year we had 90 degree temperatures into September and high 80's into October.  This set records for one of the warmest falls on record.  These temperatures delayed the fall colors.

What Makes Leaves Change Color

For a review on what makes leaves change color I looked online for some basic information.  I found out that leaves are green because of chlorophyll production and lots of chlorophyll produces green color and mask any colors underneath.  Light regulates chlorophyll production so the shorter days of Autumn produce less light and thus less chlorophyll production.  The photo below shows a tree in my front yard as the days are getting shorter and the green is disappearing.

Peak Colors for 2021

Today is November 5th and the colors are really starting to pop.  The television newscasters last night said that the next week will be our peak colors.  Here are a few photos I took yesterday.   I love the bright colors.


November 10th Update

Here is an update on the colors from my front porch on November 10th.  The colors are certainly vibrant now.



Zazzle Products from My Autumn Photos

Autumn  photos are great for cards, mugs and other products I make on Zazzle.




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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Review of Origami in the Garden

Flying Folds

 Are you fascinated by Origami? Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into shapes that look like animals, birds, etc. I always wanted to learn origami, and several years ago I took a short course on origami while I was on a cruise ship.  What I thought would be very easy, was not easy at all.  I felt like I was all thumbs trying to put together a very basic form.  

I recently was able to view an awesome exhibit of origami, taken to a whole new level.  This exhibit was featured this summer and early fall at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. It features sculptures by Santa Fe artists Jennifer and Kevin Box.  These sculptures were created in collaboration with world renowned origami artists.  The large metal sculptures use a lost-wax casting and fabrication.  Each sculpture glorifies the art of origami through museum quality metals.  They are really something to behold.

There were 18 sculptures placed throughout the gardens. In this review I will share some of my favorite sculptures and tell you a little bit about each one.

 Crane Unfolding



The first sculpture we saw when we entered the garden was the one pictured above.   In this beautiful sculpture you can see a crane emerging from a single piece of paper through the folding process to the finished crane.
Here is the sign by the sculpture that expresses what the artist felt.


Rising Cranes


This sculpture depicts a number of cranes rising from a rock base.  This sculpture was set in a small water feature at the garden and I like the way the sculpture is reflected in the water.

 Emerging Peace


This sculpture is a favorite of mine.  It depicts a butterfly starting out as a caterpillar and finally a beautiful butterfly.  I like the write up on the sign below.


Hero's Horse


I love the sculpture of the horse and the message it sends.  It looks great among the trees in the park.  Here is the sign by the horse.


Master Peace

Asian legend says that if you fold 1000 cranes in a year you will be granted a wish.  The artists who created these sculptures created 1000 cranes and wished for peace.  This sculpture is called "Master Peace" and is made up of 500 of their cranes.  The other 500 cranes are scattered throughout the world.


The sculpture stands tall in the pond in front of the climatron ( a wonderful indoor feature of the garden).  Below is a close up photo I took showing a section of the sculpture.


White Bison

The White Bison were displayed alongside one of the paths in the garden.  I thought they were very interesting in their two tone look.



Rock, Paper, Scissors

This simple hand gesture game is played throughout the world.  I was fascinated to read that it originated in Asia in 200 BC.  It evolved over the years and today uses three common items.  Here is the sculpture depicting the game.


Paper Navigators

The last sculptures in this review are the boats that were placed in the pond in the Japanese garden section of the Missouri Botanical Garden.  They  can be seen as you take the path around the pond. I like the way the sculptures are reflected in the pond.



This is just a small selection of the sculptures that were shown at our botanical garden.  The sculptures will be taken down soon.  I hope you will be able to view them if they come to a gardens near you.

Learning Origami

If you are interested in learning origami you might want to try one of these books offered at Amazon.

 





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Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

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