Monthly Archives: July 2012

Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My first visit to San Diego was in May 1992. I was supposed to visit a friend/former roommate/former employee who was graduating from the Army’s Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Since I was driving, I was going to make the trip into a two-week vacation, and my West Coast leg would start in San Diego with stops at every Vista Point along the coast.

My first Vista Point was at the historic Torrey Pines Glider Port sitting at the edge of 300-foot sandstone bluffs overlooking Blacks Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

As I was standing there looking at the vista, I told myself that eventually I would retire to San Diego. Eleven months later I did.

Four months ago I got a good vista of the bluffs, Blacks Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, the haze pretty much obscured much of the picture. I moved the picture into my “Save for future Photoshop work” folder. Today, while watching Olympics tennis and beach volleyball, I got the picture out and made this out of it:

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What I did was use the White Balance tool in Camera Raw (Photoshop CS6) to tell it that the crest on the waves should be the whitest white in the picture. Photoshop took that information and gave me the beautiful blue ocean with the golden sandstone cliffs caused by the afternoon setting sun.

The patch of green at the upper right, looking suspiciously like a golf fairway, is part of the historic Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of Tiger Woods’ last major championship, the 2008 United States Open.

Getting ambitious, I took one more hazy picture from a few days ago and easily made this out of it:

Blacks Beach

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice the difference in the color of the sandstone cliffs between the first, sunset, picture, and the second, morning, picture.

Blacks Beach is one of the worlds great Naturist Beaches, for those who might want to know……lol

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Darned perception

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkI thought some of the comments on my previous post (I’m gettin’ good) were interesting:

  • “I like the natural look of the first one.”
  • “I know you found the first photo to be drab, but I loved it!”
  • “….it looks a little like there’s too much grays now instead of browns…A little washed out…”
  • “I would have liked just a smidge more color on the queen of the jungle. Just a smidge.”

Why I found the comments interesting:

  • “I like the natural look of the first one.” — The first one was not natural. I had the wrong white balance setting on the camera, which caused the overly warm (yellow) cast to everything. Just because it was the picture the camera took does not mean it’s the “natural look.” Remember what my wise old grandmother said: “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.” Sometimes, though, even the basics are wrong. Fortunately, Photoshop allows us to correct the basics.
  • “I know you found the first photo to be drab, but I loved it!” — I didn’t find it drab, just not what I remember seeing. And in looking at the other pictures I took, it definitely was not an accurate picture of what I saw. The whole picture was too yellow.
  • Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park“….it looks a little like there’s too much grays now instead of browns…A little washed out…” — This comment is a result of that darned perception. Photoshop’s algorithms look at the average color throughout the picture and then subtracts the average wrong color from the overall average color to give the average correct color. Once I got the white balance correct for the overall picture, I separated the lion from its background and added some contrast and sharpening for the lion, not for the background. That allowed the lion to stand out from its background. In the first picture, the lion was getting lost in the too-sharp and too-colorful background, a result of not using a shallow depth of field (low number for the f/stop). Because the background is so much of the picture, some might think that the lion now has too much gray. However, the lion’s color was not changed at all once the correct white balance was achieved. This comment might make a good case for several options: (1) cropping real tight on the lion so that there is less background causing subjective viewing of the lion, (2) increasing the contrast a little more on just the lion, (3) adding some more color to the lion. Number 1 would be my first choice. I think the other two options, especially #3, would create too much depth to the lion’s fur, a depth that just isn’t there on a female lion.
  • “I would have liked just a smidge more color on the queen of the jungle. Just a smidge.” — Another comment caused by perception due to the background. I went back to see what adding a smidge more color to the queen of the jungle and it just looks too artificial, giving a yellow or orange glow to the lion. I was back to having an incorrect white balance albeit by different means.

I’ll give you another example using the following two pictures. In the first picture, my Canon 550D was set for a white balance of “Tungsten,” which is what I use at home so that I can get instantaneous pictures of Zoey the Cool Cat; she’s an indoor cat. When I took the picture, I was in the shade instead of the sun so I could see the LCD screen better than when I took the picture of the lion. The yellow color immediately told me that the camera was still set to Tungsten. I reset the white balance to “Auto” and took the second picture. Both pictures are the basics out of the camera. Some people will like the warmer yellow color, and that’s okay. But for those wanting “natural,” the second picture is the more natural of the two.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I think the comments make a great case for never showing the working pictures, only the final product. After all, the only people who show you working renditions are teachers. Of course, in my previous post, I was being more Photoshop teacher than photographer.

Even professional photographers who make 100% of their income from their photography have every digital photo editing program in existence, even if they refuse to admit that they use them — that’s a lot of money to spend on something they don’t use……lol.

….we return to our regularly scheduled programming: Andy Roddick vs. Novak Djokovic in Olympic tennis.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I’m gettin’ good

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For some reason I have this infatuation with wildlife that is either yawning, eating, grooming, or just letting that lazy tongue have a little look-see. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this past weekend, the three lions were up close and personal, about two inches away (or whatever the thickness of the glass is). I got what I thought was a great photo of one of the female lions:

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is not too much that is right with that picture — the lion gets lost in the background; there are flies at the corner of its mouth, on its tongue and on the top of its nose; there’s no contrast between the lion and the background…. Aaack!

Remembering what my wise old grandmother always said as she put together her photo albums and scrapbooks — “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with!” — I first went to Lightroom because I know it better than Photoshop. I didn’t really get anything much better.

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In trying to get some contrast between the lion and the background, the color cast got shifted. On to Photoshop.

After first working in Adobe Camera Raw, I got a little better contrast and color cast. At that point I took the resulting picture into Photoshop. After duplicating the picture, I applied a layer mask and then highlighted everything around the lion. Then I simply converted the background to black & white. Once that was done, I used a combination of the healing brush, the patch brush, and the clone tool to get rid of the flies.

Photoshop has an excellent feature called Content-Aware. After highlighting the flies, I simply hit the delete key. Photoshop doesn’t actually delete the flies. Instead it fills the area where the flies are, so up pops a Fill window with some options. The option I wanted was Contents, Content-Aware:

Content Aware

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All of that gave me the result that I was looking for, and which the LCD screen in the bright sunshine at the Park indicated I had, but didn’t:

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whaddaya think?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bai Yun

Proud new parents

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There have been rumors (rumours for my Canadian, British, and possibly Australian friends) for a couple of months that Bai Yun, the oldest female giant panda at the San Diego Zoo, might be pregnant. Rumours proved true yesterday at 2:10 p.m.

So little still is known about giant pandas that it’s always difficult to tell, even though the Zoo has some pretty good records from Bai Yun’s previously successful pregnancies in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009. Dad, once again, is Gao Gao.

The little one won’t be named until the 100th day in keeping with Chinese custom, and it won’t be available for the general public to see for six or seven months. Until that time, following are some of my best pictures of Bai Yun and Gao Gao.

Ladies first. Bai Yun:

Bai Yun

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bai Yun

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I guess mommy was eating for two. Daddy, on the other hand……. Well, guys will be guys.

Gao Gao

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Gao Gao

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Newborn pandas weigh about 3½ ounces at birth. Apparently that is about the size of a stick of butter, but I haven’t seen a stick of butter in 3½ decades……

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Knobbed hornbill

The knobbed hornbill

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Friends ask me why I go to the San Diego Zoo once a week. I have a couple of answers.

First, because I can. I have an annual pass. A one-one day ticket to the Zoo costs $42, as does a one-day ticket to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. My annual pass costs me $149 a year, and it lets me in free for an unlimited number of times to both the Zoo and the Safari Park. Thus I only need to go four times to get a return on my investment. If I go 104 times annually, 52 times to each park…………

Second, taking time out to visit the wildlife at the two parks (as well as SeaWorld, where I also have an annual pass) provides me with an opportunity, and a great place, to relax.

Third, picture-taking opportunities are different each time I go. There are many critters that I don’t have pictures of yet, and there are many more critters for which I’m hoping to get that perfect picture. Yesterday I got my two best pictures of the Knobbed Hornbill (Aceros cassidix):

Knobbed hornbill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Knobbed hornbill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Part of the problem in getting a good picture of these birds is that they are in an exhibit with very fine wires, as you can see in the background. The exterior front of the exhibit is bushes, which do a great job of preventing photographers from getting close enough to the wires so that the camera doesn’t focus on them. Combine that with where the birds like to hang out in their exhibit — up close near the front wires — and it’s virtually impossible to get a good picture of these wonderful birds.

If one is using a point & shoot camera, which aren’t great at letting the photographer control the depth of field (depth of focus), inevitably the wires are in the picture. For those using DSLR cameras, we have to hope that the birds are far enough behind the wires to let our cameras focus on the birds instead of the wires. Yesterday, they were.

Knobbed hornbills are endemic to Indonesia and are listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Garden turtle

The week in review (7-23-12 to 7-29-12)

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Some of my favorite pictures from this past week.

The house I inspected on Monday is under the tent on Friday:

Tented house

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sometimes fine, furry, four-legged friends welcome me to home inspections, not always with a welcoming smile:

Fine, furry, four-legged friend

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Early fall colors:

Early fall colors

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rope swing in a park near the house shown in the first picture (brought back childhood memories):

Rope swing

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The view from one of the homes I inspected this past week:

Sweetwater Reservoir

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A home that I did not inspect, other than admiring the green roof:

Hobbit House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best water fountain of the week:

Water fountain

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best garden sculpture:

Garden sculpture

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best garden animal:

Garden turtle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best picture from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, two mule deer fawns looking for their mom:

Mule deer fawn

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Time to go:

Time to go

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 12

Visited a few birds this past week

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I visited a few birds this past week. Most of them look happy that I stopped by.

Picture 1

Picture 1

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 2

Picture 2

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Picture 3

Picture 3

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 4

Picture 4

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 5

Picture 5

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Picture 6

Picture 6

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 7

Picture 7

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 8

Picture 8

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 9

Picture 9

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Picture 10

Picture 10

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Picture 11

Picture 11

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture 12

Picture 12

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Surfing or swimming?

Art is not what you see but what you make others see

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Watching the Olympics gives me lots of time to sit in front of the computer and have fun cataloging pictures modifying pictures altering pictures creating pictures. Following is one that I created today. I titled it “Surfing or Swimming.”

Surfing or swimming?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Poor little seagull doesn’t know whether to go surfing or swimming, especially since flying is not an option…….lol

That is a created picture using three pictures and doing a little cloning in Photoshop CS6. Here are the three pictures:

Surfing or swimming

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Clouds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Seagull

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now you’ll never again know whether the pictures in my blog are created pictures or pictures as seen through the lens of my Canon 550D. However, that doesn’t bother me because, as Edgar Degas (178 years old this month) said: “Art is not what you see but what you make others see.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fish out of water

A fish out of water

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A couple of decades ago I bought the original versions of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint. My work required them. I preferred Photo-Paint; it was much easier to use.

When I moved to San Diego in 1993, I no longer had a need for either of the two programs so I quit upgrading them. Now, with over 75,000 pictures, I have a need again.

I upgraded Adobe Photoshop 8 to Photoshop CS6. In other words, I had to buy the full version of CS6 since they don’t allow upgrades that are more than two versions old. Customer service would make no exceptions.

I upgraded Corel Photo-Paint 8 to Photo-Paint X6. Corel also doesn’t allow upgrades for more than two versions, but after talking with customer service and taking them through my many version registrations with them — I still had all the serial numbers and purchase dates — Corel allowed me to upgrade, a savings of about $200.

That pretty much tells you why I’m a Corel fan more so than an Adobe fan.

I also bought Adobe Lightroom 4 and Corel PaintShop Pro X4.

I use mostly Lightroom 4 because it works the best with RAW files. Once I have a JPG from the RAW file, I tend to use PaintShop Pro to modify them.

My current focus is learning the ins and outs of Photoshop CS6, where I feel like a fish out of water. One thing that I never liked in Photoshop is its clone tool. I found it cumbersome at best, and horrible at worst. That was until today when I discovered the secret to making the clone tool work properly. It’s all in the hardness of the tool:

Clone tool hardness

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once I started playing around with the hardness, I was able to get the clone tool to do what I always thought it should do. As usual, the devil is in the details………..

Following is my “Fish out of water,” what I thought was going to be a great picture when I took it a couple of days ago on my Mission Beach/Mission Bay Walk:

Fish out of water

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Unfortunately, there is one solitary succulent blossom sticking up into the fish’s mouth. Aaack!

I could easily resolve that issue in about five minutes using PaintShop Pro. I went to Photoshop instead to see if I could make it a five-minute job there. I did. Here’s the result:

Fish out of water

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fire hydrants at the beach

Dogs welcome….

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On my recent Mission Beach/Mission Bay walk a few mornings ago, our photography group came upon a collection of fire hydrants. Even dogs are welcome at the beach….

Fire hydrants at the beach

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos