Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Reviewing -Will That Be Regular or Ethyl?



My cousin's  husband grew up in a small town in mid Missouri.  He recently published a book he wrote about his growing up years.

Growing Up Along Route 66 in 1950's Missouri

This is a delightful book filled with anecdotes about life in a small town in the 1950's.  Remember when: 

  •  Kids rode their bikes all over town
  •  Members of the opposite sex had "Cooties"
  •  Students got their vaccinations at school
  • To research a subject you used the Encyclopedia
  • Some teachers resorted to paddling to keep kids in line
  • Gas for your vehicle was filled by the attendant who also would sell you needed repairs for the car

Lessons for Life

Small town living gave DeWayne many lessons that were to last throughout his life.  Some of these included a strong work ethic built while working in the family chicken hatchery, a church community that is a big part of every day life, and a large family that looked out for each other. 

DeWayne's father also gained some great insights from his father who was a rather quiet man, but taught through his examples.

A job at a gas station on Route 66 was also full of lots of humorous incidents and some good life lessons.


Humorous Incidents

There are many humorous incidents scattered throughout the book as DeWayne gives us a glimpse into his childhood.  Here are just few of the many you won't want to miss.

      •  Cow Patty Softball
      •  Mishap while fishing in frozen pond
      •  Church organist falling asleep when time to play
      •  Mishaps at the service station on Route 66


So, if you are looking for a walk down memory lane and you want to read a book that is sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, but always realistic be sure to pick up "Will that be Regular or Ethyl?".


Book Available on Amazon

   




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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Creative Photography- Combining Techniques

In this post I will review two techniques I have talked about in previous posts and give tips on how to combine them to create some fun and creative photographs.

Lensball

A lensball is a fun way to break away from the normal photos and get a bit creative. Here is a photo I took of a friend photographing the St. Louis Arch,  I took his photo through a lens ball that was sitting on a tripod next to him.
On this post Crystal Photography Ball , I show you basic techniques on using a lensball.  These basic techniques are the first steps in creating the combined technique you see in the introductory photo.

                                                              

Textured Backgrounds

Whenever you want the background to be different from your photo it is quite simple to change backgrounds in Photoshop.  Some backgrounds I make myself and others I get online.  Whichever method you choose, the tips in this post will help you to change your background. Photoshop Texturing Techniques
The photo above is a shot of an African daisy put on a textured background.

Combining Techniques

Now for the fun and creative part. When you take photos with a lensball first of all the photo is upside down and second the background just never seems to look right. At least mine usually doesn't.  I was contemplating this problem when I thought about my textured background technique I love to use and decided I could apply it to my lensball photos.  Here is a photo I created using these combined techniques and then the steps I followed to create the photo.


  • First I took a photo of my new Dipladenia plant and edited it in Lightroom.  I saved the photo on my desktop.
  • Next I took a photo of the same plant using my crystal photo ball.  I put the photo ball stand on a table right next to the plant and focused my camera on the plant image inside the ball.  I brought the photo into Lightroom and inverted the photo so the image in the ball is right side up.
  • Next I opened the first photo in Photoshop.
  • With the first photo open I clicked on File and Place Embedded in Photoshop.
  • This brought the ball photo into photoshop covering the original photo.  I then used the Lasso tool to outline the ball and I clicked on Create and Mask in the top bar.
  • Now I used the slider to get the effect that I wanted.  I used the transparency and the feather sliders.  I next clicked done.
  • Now I click on the little square mask symbol at the bottom of the layers column and again moved the sliders to get the desired effect.
  • Finally I used Save As and named my file and saved it as a JPeg file.
I do this procedure as second nature now, but it took me a lot of practice before I got any results that I was happy with.  I wish you much fun and success in your quest for Creative Photography.






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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review of Photographing the St. Louis Arch at Night



I have photographed the St. Louis Arch at sunrise, in the morning and during the day but I had never photographed it at sunset and beyond.  When our photography club decided to take a trip across the Mississippi and photograph the Arch from a park on the east side of the river I was ready to go.  I wasn't sure what I was expecting but when we got there I saw this platform that provided a great overlook to photograph the Arch and the riverfront.

The photos below show the ramp and members of our group lined up at the top of the platform eagerly awaiting the sun to set.





Tips for Nighttime Photography


  • Use a tripod...this will help eliminate camera shake in the low light.  This is particularly important once the sun has set.
  • Don't put the horizon in the middle of the photo.  Try getting it somewhere in the bottom third of the photo.
  • Shoot in aperture priority when the sun is still up and switch to manual once the sun sets.
  • Stay longer ( check next paragraph for reason why).
  • Try changing white balance to shade setting for more stunning colors.
  •  Wait for night clouds.  A partly cloudy sky is the best for sunsets.
  • Watch for birds.  They can add interest to the photo.
Sunset in St. Louis
Search tips for night photography online and you will find a wealth of information.  The tips above are a few that I thought were particularly good.


Staying after Sunset

When I am photographing in the evening, I see many photographers wait till sunset, take their photos, and then pack up and leave.  If they do they will miss the beauty of the special lighting that often happens 20-30 minutes after sunset.  

Right after sunset you will see some really pretty colors in the sky.  
You will note in this photo, taken about 5 minutes after sunset that the sky has some pretty pinks and yellow's to it.  On some evenings this can be even more pronounced, but I still think it was pretty in the photo above.

If you wait till all the colors have gone in the sky, you will then get to the "Blue Hour" where the sky turns a beautiful dark blue.  Many people miss this because they are in too big a hurry to wait.  It is definitely their loss.  I have seen times where there is only a slight darkening of the blue and other times where it is a fantastic deep blue.  It is worth waiting to see what the evening will bring.

In the case of the arch taken from the east, I also wanted to wait till all the lights were on in the buildings around the arch.  The arch is usually lit up but at this time of year those lights were turned off so they didn't interfere with the migration of birds.  Although I would have liked to see the lights on the arch, I will have to save that for another trip and I do believe it made the other lights on the city appear even brighter.  This photo was taken 25  minutes after sunset.

See More on the St. Louis Arch

Here is a Review This post on the Arch showing photography at sunrise and during the daytime.

St. Louis Arch on Zazzle

I have made several of my Arch photos into Zazzle products.  Here are a few and you may find more in my zazzle store at Mbgphoto on Zazzle




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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Review of Texturing Technique in Photoshop


A favorite technique of mine in Adobe Photoshop is texturing.  The photo above shows a photo of a flower with a textured background.  This photo is actually a combination of two different photographs that I shot.  The foreground is the daisy flower and the textured background is a photograph of my windshield with ice on it.  On this post I will review some of the steps needed to create this photo and then show some other photographs I created using this procedure.


Creating a Textured Background

There are many places online that you can buy textured backgrounds, but I like to create my own using parts of photographs that I have taken.  Here are a few from my library.  They include a couple of sky images, a brick wall, fire (from my fireplace) and the icy windshield that I used in the introductory photo.









Steps to Create Textured Photo Composite

The steps below are the ones I used to create my textured background images.  There are several different ways to do different procedures in PS(Photoshop) but these are the ones I find easiest for me.  I have never taken a class on PS, but rather have taught myself through the use of the tutorials on PS (great for the basics) and YouTube tutorials you can find online for many different specialty techniques.  Here then are the steps used to create the photo like the one at the top of this post.
  •   I first Open a background photo in PS. I used my icy windshield background for the photo at the top of this post. I also always make a duplicate copy of the background photo.
  • Next I click on file and then Place Embedded to select the photo that I want in the forefront.  In this case my daisy photo. The new photo will come in on top of the background photo and I will then stretch or reduce it to make it the same size as the background photo.
  • The next step is to pick out the area of the photo that you want to highlight.  In the case of the daisy photo I use the Quick Selection tool to outline the main daisy.  I then click the  button at the top that says Select and Mask.
  • This will open a new window that will give you the opportunity to use sliders to bring in as much of the background texture as you want.  Play with the sliders till you get the desired effect and click done.
  •   This will bring you back to the main screen where you will now click the little square at the bottom of the layers column that adds the layer mask.(when I first started I always got hung up because I forgot this important step.)
  • Next you will tweak the sliders for the layer mask to get exactly the effect you desire.
  • Now you just save your work and you have created a beautiful photo with a textured background.
  • This took a lot of practice for me to get all the steps right so don't get discouraged if at first you don't succeed.

    Samples of my Textured Background Photos

    Daisy  with Brick Wall Texture

    Bluebirds with Sky Texture Background

    Candle in Crystal Ball with Fire textured background

    Photoshop Texture Book on Amazon



                                                               

 Zazzle Card with Textured Photo





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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reviewing Grill Mat


I love to cook out on my deck using my gas grill.  For Christmas I received a pair of grill mats that have made grilling and cleanup so much easier.  These mats are sold in sets of two and can be cut to fit any size grill.  They are also good on any kind of grill.  So, whether you have a charcoal, propane, gas or electric grill you will  want to check out these handy mats.

As you can see in the photo above I put my entire meal on the grill mat.  In the photo above I have hamburgers and a variety of vegetables.  No extra pots or pans needed, just my easy to clean grill mat.

When we are finished eating and the grill has cooled down, I bring the grill mat inside and wash it off with sudsy water in the sink.  It cleans very easily and is quickly ready for use the next time I grill.


Why I Love My New Grill Mat


  • Cook entire meal at one time
  • Vegetables and fruit will not fall through grill slats
  • Easy to use, no preparation needed
  • Food will not stick to mat
  • Very easy cleanup 
  • I no longer need to clean the grill
  • Mat can also double as baking mat
Be sure to click on the link below to buy your own grill mat.  You will love how easy it is to use and maintain.



                                                                   



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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Reviewing Crystal Photography Ball


For Christmas, I received a Crystal Photography Ball.  These balls have become quite popular with photographers and  I was anxious to get one and try it out.  The great thing about these balls is that they are a fun way to try different techniques with your photography no matter what type of camera you use.  When I got mine for Christmas my  nephew tried it out with his iPhone with wonderful results.  So whether you use a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a point and shoot or even a camera phone try out a photography ball to add some new interest to your photos.

Taking Photos with a Crystal Photography Ball

I have found that it takes a bit of practice to get used to shooting with the photography ball, but with a bit of practice you can get some interesting shots.

Here are a few tips that may  help you.

  • Try using a wide angle lens and get close to the ball.
  • For landscapes you may want to try a zoom lens.
  • Be sure to focus on the image in the ball
  • Be careful not to use the ball too long in bright sunlight...you could get burned from the reflection.
  • Take care to keep your  ball free of fingerprints.  Bring a cleaning cloth with you.
  • There are lots of tutorials on You Tube.  Take a look at a few to get additional ideas.



Editing Photos

One of the first things you will notice when  you look at the photos you have taken is that the image in the ball is upside down.  There are several things you can do in editing to correct this.

  • The easiest solution is to simply flip the entire image as you can see I have done in this image.  This works particularly well when the background is blurry and you have lights in the background.  Here is one of my first photos with the photography ball.

  • Another solution would be to add a textured background to the photo.  I did that in the photo at the beginning of this post, where I added a fire background to the candle in the ball.
  • A third solution is to flip just the ball in Photoshop or a similar program.  I have not quite mastered that technique yet, but you can find lots of videos on YouTube to take you through that process.


Some of My Favorite Crystal Ball Images

Here are a few more images I have taken with my crystal ball. These are some that I took while on a trip to Jupiter, Florida.  I still have a lot to learn, but I love the challenge.




Purchasing a Photography Ball

A crystal photography ball can be rather inexpensive.  Here is one like the one I have with a clear stand and a pouch to keep it.
                                                             


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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review of Sony A6300 Mirrorless Camera






For my birthday my husband bought me a new Sony Mirrorless camera.  I was looking for something lightweight to use when I traveled. But I wanted the same capabilities of my Sony SLR. I had been hearing about the mirrorless cameras from fellow photographers and at a meeting last fall we had a speaker at our photo club that introduced us to mirrorless cameras and I was sold.  A mirrorless camera combines the best of a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera and a lightweight compact body.  It has the features of the DSLR without the mirrors which makes it a lightweight camera without sacrificing the quality.



Features of A6300

There are many features that I enjoy on the Sony A6300.  Here are just a few of the ones that are important to me.
  • 100-25,600 ISO range allowing you to take great photos even in low light settings.
  • 4D focus systems which quickly locks in on your subject, helping to take crisp clear photos.
  • Continuous shooting at up to 11fps(frames per second)
  • WiFi, NFC, QR codes for easy file transfer
  • Tiltable 3inch LCD screen that tilts up or down for capturing high and low framing
  • An eyepiece cup that helps me to see clearly what I am photographing.
  • Settings that allow you to shoot in Auto, Scene, Full Manual and everything in between.
  • Movies in 4K movie recording

                                                               


Learning to Use A6300

I am finding the A6300 very easy to use.  Most of the features are similar to my DSLR so the learning curve was very easy.  My husband bought me two lenses to go with my new camera a wide angle 16-55 and a telephoto in the 55-210 range.

The photo below was taken during a cloudy day in a room with no lights turned on.  I love the way the camera handles low light situations.  For this photo I just set the camera to aperture priority F7.0 and shot away.  The colors came out perfect with no adjustment needed.

On a recent trip to Florida, I was able to photograph birds at the pier with my new camera.  In order to get some nice closeup shots I put on my 55-210 zoom lens.  In this closeup of a brown colored pigeon I again used aperture priority and a F6.3 setting.  I love the sharp photo, great colors and blurred background.

For photographs using my photography ball, I switched to a wider angle lens 16-55 mm. I again used aperture priority and was able to capture Jupiter lighthouse in my ball.





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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review of Woodpecker Facts and Photography

                                                                         Downy Woodpecker

I have been fascinated by woodpeckers for a long time, but I didn't realize there were so many different types of woodpeckers.  This year I purchased a peanut feeder for my backyard.  When I started to see different types of woodpeckers using the feeder I checked out information about woodpeckers  both online and in my Backyard Birds guide.  In this post I will show you photos and facts about the four types of woodpeckers that have visited my backyard.


Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a very handsome bird.  It has a brown back with black bars and a very distinct crescent of black on the chest. In flight the white rump is very conspicuous.  

These woodpeckers usually forage on the ground for food, but I have also seen them at my suet feeders.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are the most common ones that I see in my backyard.  They visit year round and are fairly small birds.  These small tubular looking woodpeckers are very delicate looking.  They have crisp black and white plumage and the males have a red patch toward the back of the head.  They have a larger look-alike cousin the Hairy Woodpecker.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a large bird with zebra type stripes across the back.  The red belly is really just a pink tinge across the white chest.  The really red part is on the head.  The male has a bright red cap that extends from the bill all the way down the nape.  The female is similar to the male except that the red cap is only in the  nape area.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I have only seen this bird one day in my yard.  I was able to capture photos from several angles and posted it on birding sites.  The consensus was that it is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  My bird book says that I probably caught it on its' migration south.

These birds are rather large woodpeckers with a striped face pattern and a long white slash on the wing.  The male has a red throat and forecrown.  The female has white throat and red fore crown, so I would say the photo above is a male Yellow-bellied woodpecker.


Feeders for  Woodpeckers

I have two types of feeders that I use to attract woodpeckers.  The first is a cage like feeder that I fill with suet cakes.  You can see a Northern Flicker enjoying a suet cake in the photo below.
This type of feeder is also visited by several other types of birds.

This year I purchased a peanut feeder and it has been very popular with both woodpeckers and nuthatches.  This feeder is filled with unshelled peanuts and it is fun to watch the birds peck away till they get the nut out of the shell.  This keeps them at the feeder longer and helps me to capture them with my camera.  Below is a Red Breasted Nuthatch that visited the peanut feeder.

I purchased my peanut feeder on Amazon.  You can get your own by following the link below.
                                                           




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review of Bluebird Facts and Photography


I have long been a fan of Bluebirds but until this year I have not been able to  capture any photographs that I really liked.  During a very cold spell in January a group of Bluebirds visited our backyard and I was able to capture some nice photos.  I had a camera set up on a tripod in front of our glass doors and I snapped away as the Bluebirds checked out our feeding spots.  For those interested I am using a Sony A57 with a Tamron150-600 lens.  My camera is set to A (aperture mode) and I'm using a 6.5 aperture in most of these photos.



Eastern Bluebird Identification

These birds are small thrush type birds with a round head and big belly.

Male Bluebirds

The male Bluebirds are particularly bright in color as you can see in the photo above.  They have a bright blue colored head and back along with their tail feathers.  Their throat and chest are a bright rusty color.

Female Bluebirds

Female Bluebird

The female bluebirds have the same color pattern as the males and they are a similar size, however their coloring is much more subdued.  Their head appears an almost grayish color as you can see in the photo above.

Juvenile Bluebirds

The juvenile Bluebirds have spotting on their backs and chests and some blue
beginning in their wings and chests.

Feeding Behavior and Diet


From spring to early fall the Bluebirds diets consist of mainly insects.  In the winter they rely mainly on fruits.  As you can see in the photo above they will also resort to seeds in the winter.

I have found that if I do not clean out my flower containers after blooming season the Bluebirds and other birds like to rummage through the dead plants.


Nesting

Although Bluebirds will use a nest box they also like holes in old trees, particularly old woodpecker nests.  They fill their nests with grass and other plant material.  A Bluebird usually lays 4-5 eggs and they are inculpated by the female for 11-19 days.  The fledgling birds leave the nest in about 19 days.

References

I gathered my information from several online sources as well as from my book Backyard Guide to the Birds.  Here are my references.
  • allaboutbirds.org/guide
  • Audubon.org
  • wild-bird-watching.com

                                              



Zazzle Products from my Photos





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