Category Archives: Digital photo editing

Picture of the Moment—Run! He wants to put us on Facebook! Run!

Picture of the Moment

I like to get action pictures of wildlife. That was difficult until recently. I bought a Tamron 150-600 mm lens and replaced my 9-year-old Tamron 28-300 mm lens with a Tamron 18-300 mm. The 18-300 is my daily walkaround lens although the 150-600 is always in the trunk of the car. The 18-300 is best for outdoor spontaneous action because it is lighter and focuses faster. The 150-600 is best for getting through wire fences such as those which surround many enclosures at the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, Lions Tigers & Bears, Discovery Nature Center, and others.

Following is one of my best action pictures ever, taken at the San Diego Jetty while I was visiting the Jetty Cats feral colony.

Run! He wants to put us on Facebook! Run!Seagulls running

Many decades ago I was reading an interview with a photographer from National Geographic magazine. One of the questions concerned how he got such great shots of wildlife. His answer was that he always focused on the eyes. If he did that, everything else would fall into place.

I focused on the eyes of that first seagull, but by the time I pushed the shutter button, the birds had moved so that it looks like I focused on the eye of the second seagull because it’s just ever so slightly more in focus. I was about 50 feet from these birds and the picture metadata shows a shutter speed of 1/250, which is why I got such good motion in the wings and legs. It was taken with the 150-600 lens but the focal length was 150 and the f/stop was 5.0.

I will have more pictures in the next few days of wildlife from the San Diego Jetty, including, of course, the Jetty Cats.

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

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How I Did It—Works for me

How I Did It

I pretty much try to abide by the rule of thirds when I take pictures. I think it creates more aesthetically pleasing photographs.

The rule of thirds might be the most well-known rule of photographic composition since it is one of the first things one learns in photography class.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken, but if you’re going to break a rule, make sure you know it very well so that breaking it is even more effective.

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts:

Rule of thirds

The exact center rarely is a good place to put your focal point unless your intent is to show symmetry. Too high, too low, too far left, or too far right is kind of like dissonance in music; it just doesn’t feel right/sound right/look right. The grid, then, identifies four areas of the image—where the lines intersect—where you should consider placing points of interest in your picture.

Along with the four intersections, the rule of thirds also gives you four lines along which to place elements in your picture.

Rule of thirds lines

The theory behind the rule of thirds is that placing points of interest at the intersections or along the lines provides a more balanced picture with which the viewer can interact more naturally. Apparently, research shows that when looking at a picture, your eyes go naturally to one of the intersections much more naturally than to the center of the image.

I don’t know if the rule of thirds comes naturally to me or whether fifty years of photography has simply made it a habit. Maybe I’ll intentionally break the rule to see what happens.

If your picture looks or feels awkward, don’t hesitate to take it into a digital photo editing program like Photoshop and crop it to give it a better feel or look.

Following is a panorama of the Music Building at San Diego State University that illustrates the rule of thirds. This panorama was created by taking 8 separate pictures into Photoshop and then using the Photomerge function to stitch them together. Afterwards I cropped the panorama to get this:

Music Building at San Diego State University

My landscape-oriented pictures often use the top, middle, and bottom thirds, as I have done that picture. I really like this picture, first and foremost because it’s the Music Building and connects with my 60 years of music (violin, piano, and voice). Additionally, though, I really like the dominant but different colors in the thirds—blue in the upper third, white in the middle, and green in the lower. Notice, however, that the transitions are not too sharp or abrupt. The white clouds in the blue sky lead one’s eyes to the white building. The green trees against the white building then lead one’s eyes to the green grass in the lower third. In every sense, this picture works for me.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Beware of photographers bearing alternative pictures

How I Did It

I don’t have much respect for photographers who spout that their pictures are straight out of the camera. All that tells me is that they haven’t explored all that their cameras can do.

In today’s world, even cameras are photoshoppers. For example, on all my Canon cameras (XSi, T2i, T6s), I can change the in-camera settings. I push the Menu button, scroll to Picture Style, choose it, and then I can choose Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1, User Def. 2, and User Def. 3.
For each of those choices, I can then set the Sharpness (0 to 7), Contrast (-4 to +4), Saturation (-4 to +4), and Color tone (-4 to +4). Other settings on the camera allow me to modify exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, or even add creative filters (Grainy B/W, Soft focus, Fish-eye effect, Art bold effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect, Miniature effect), crop the picture, and change the brightness.

One also should realize that the little computers that power our cameras are more powerful than the 1960’s computers that sent man to the moon and brought him back safely. Why not use that power? In order to use that power, though, computers require software to make them run. Just like I prefer Photoshop over Photo-Paint and PaintShop Pro, I prefer the Canon software engineers’ programming over the programming from the engineers at Nikon, Sony, and the others. It’s not always about price. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to let the Canon software engineers, who may or may not be photographers themselves, decide for me how I want my pictures to look. Ain’t gonna happen. What they have given me in their software programming is just the basics with which to start.

One of the best reasons for joining a photography club is to see what cameras other people are using and what their cameras can do. One of the little ol’ ladies in my camera club, 77 years old, uses no post-camera processing software. However, she has a Canon 70D. You should see her “post process” in her camera, both before and after she takes the picture, looking at and changing the histogram, the noise, the brightness, and anything else that suits her fancy for a particular picture or time. She knows every setting on her camera, and she knows how to use those settings, too. But she had always claimed that her pictures are “straight out of the camera.”

I pointed out to her one day that “post processing” really meant “after you take the picture,” not after the picture leaves the camera, and not necessarily using Photoshop on the computer back at home. I explained to her using her own camera and actions. She now understands, and since she has higher power connections in the camera club, the president asked me to do a “post processing” seminar for the camera club. We had around 200 people that morning; very few of them had ever explored their camera settings, preferring to think that they were expert photographers because they knew what P, A, ISO, Av, Tv, and M meant.

One of our younger male members loves sunrise and sunset pictures, but he doesn’t like getting up before noon, and by the time sunset arrives, he’s too busy with the wine & women. I showed him how to use the settings on his camera to get a sunrise/sunset picture at 2:00 p.m. any day of the year using his in-camera settings. Now he’s the happiest guy on Earth.

I enjoy post processing on my computer using Photoshop since I have a big computer screen, a fast computer, music to listen to, a cat in my lap, and a margarita on the desk. Trying to do post processing on a little 3-inch LCD screen with little buttons, out in the wild, is not my idea of fun.

So as I said, I don’t have much respect for someone who spouts that their pictures are straight out of the camera. All that tells me is that they haven’t explored all that their cameras can do or that their command of the English language is not yet sufficient to understand what “post processing” means.

Here are a couple of sunrise/sunset pictures of mine. Can you tell whether or not they are sunrise or sunset?

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Those two are fairly easy because you have a 50% chance of being correct since the sun is in the picture. As long as I didn’t actually put the sun in the picture (which I can do with Photoshop), you know they are either sunrise or sunset. But what do you do if the sun is not in the picture, like these three:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunset in La Mesa, California on December 10, 2016, looking east

La Mesa sunset

Those pictures are mid-afternoon pictures. The clouds and whatever was happening behind them were creating some interesting effects with the sun. I used some in-camera settings to accentuate the effect and then completed the process at home in Photoshop.

So beware of photographers bearing alternative pictures in this new world order of alternative facts.

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Snippets (12-28-16)—You’re a little different….

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something
Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

When two of my hard drives crashed concurrently in early October, my main concern was retrieving over a million photographs and videos. Fortunately, I got them all back, albeit at a cost of a couple of grand.

Now I’m in the process of cataloging all of them, deleting duplicates, and then, instead of backing up to an external hard drive, which is what I was doing when both drives crashed, I’m going to do backups to the cloud where there are multiple redundancies to prevent crashes and losses.

I have not chosen a cloud storage service so I’m open to suggestions.

SNIPPET 2

I am enjoying going through all the uncatalogued pictures and finding some gems, such as the following two. Feel free to provide your own caption.

A seal praying that Trump doesn’t destroy the worldSeal praying that Trump doesn't destroy the world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When one of the gang realizes you’re a little different
and still comes over to say hello.Seals & pelicanPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET 3

Joey Thaidigsman, freshman computer science major at the University of California at BerkeleyJoey Thaidigsman, the IT Director of Russel Ray (which comprises Photographic Art, Russel Ray Photos, and House Key News) is a freshman Computer Science major at the University of California at Berkeley. I’m proud to tell you that he earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average for his first semester. He wants to go into artificial intelligence. Hmmm. Maybe he IS artificial intelligence. I’ll keep an eye on him….

SNIPPET 4

Since Trump is intent on blowing up the world, Jim and I figured we would go out in style, so Christmas Eve afternoon we traded in our 2015 Honda Civic EX-L, which we bought on February 6, 2016, for a 2017 Honda Civic EX. We switched from a white exterior with beige leather interior to a “modern steel metallic” exterior (very dark gray, basically) with a black interior. The white/beige showed too much dust and dirt all the time, so we’re going to try the darker colors for a couple of years.

I think it’s the second most fun car Jim and I have owned, behind the 1998 Pontiac Trans Am. The other cars were a 1989 Saleen Ford Mustang GT, 1991 Honda Civic, 1998 Toyota Avalon, 2000 Honda Accord, 2002 Nissan Maxima, 2003 Toyota Camry, 2005 Nissan Altima, and a 2015 Toyota Corolla (which we still have).

It has two USB ports for the stereo system, great cruise control, dual-zone heating and cooling (convenient since, in 22½ years, Jim and I have never agreed on comfort temperature), and a moon roof for those starry starry nights.

2017 Honda Civic EX

2017 Honda Civic EX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET 5

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season! Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity in 2017 and beyond!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?
Visit
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Be a unique star

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother always said, “If you don’t get up early, you won’t see the sun rise.” She was always up before sunrise. I wasn’t far behind her. Here is this morning’s sunrise through the dirty window of my home office in La Mesa CA:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With that out of the way….

A few more quips from my wise old grandmother:

“If you’re not sleeping with someone, you don’t know what they are thinking.”

“Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will love you or hate you based on your actions and words. So be nice.”

“Children aren’t born with hatred in their hearts. Mom and dad teach them that, usually through religion.”

I believe she was right on all counts.

I have been a member of a home inspector trade association for 13 years. There are about 10,000 members. I led a marketing seminar at its national convention in 2007, which is when a very significant member of the association found out I was gay. He wasn’t happy, telling me that he always thought gays should be killed. I brushed it off , thinking that if he got to know a gay person, he would change his mind. Apparently that has not worked.

I have had significant interaction with that person over the past nine years. A couple of days ago I was on the association’s message board and all sorts of Trump-approved hate was spewing. It’s allowed on the message board under the guise of free speech. He was participating and left a comment stating that maybe now that Trump was president, gays, illegal immigrants, and blacks would be killed. “Can’t go wrong with that.”

That definitely caused me to rethink my association, and I have decided to move on. However, that also means that my latest venture, House Key News, is being put on the back burner because I believe my main target audience all are Trump supporters. I’m not going to intentionally associate with those kind of people, especially now that they apparently have approve to spew their hatred in public.

My fallback is Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. I have let it slip over the past year, but a recent sale a few days ago has encouraged me to make it numero uno.

House Key News had a main target audience of about 20,000 people—home inspectors. Photographic Art has a main target audience of about 3,000,000 people—Realtors, loan agents, title agents, and escrow agents. They can use Photographic Art as unique close-of-escrow gifts instead of the standard $50 gas or restaurant card, a plant, a bottle of wine or champagne, etc.

Photographic Art also can be used for birth gifts, birthday gifts, graduation gifts, marriage gifts, divorce gifts, new business gifts, anniversary gifts, just because gifts, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Be a unique star

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Visit
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Oh. My. God. They elected HIM?

I live in my own little world

When I got 100% of my data back from the simultaneous hard drive crashes, I resolved to spend at least 30 minutes each day going through my million-plus pictures and videos and actually cataloging them.

I’m probably about 5% through the task. Right now I’m simply deciding which to purge.

I’ve never discarded images before because, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

(I never bugged her about ending her sentences with prepositions….”

If I have five pictures, though, all virtually identical, I’ll choose the best one and chunk the other four.

I’m also looking for pictures that I can use as comment pictures, mostly on Facebook.

Comment pictures are always much more fun that typing text.

Following is a picture I found a few minutes ago. The facial expression is great but the picture was on the cusp of being a throwaway, which is why I created the ellipse to put the Wolf’s Guenon in. Adjusted shadows, highlights, blacks, contrast, and sharpness, and got something worthwhile.

Oh. My. God. They elected HIM?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Visit
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Friday Flower Fiesta (9-16-2016)

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have had a need to create eBooks but I wanted one of those flipping eBooks that I see occasionally.

I have tried several of them but they either are absent-ware (parts of the program are absent unless you pay for it), are too difficult to work with, or are just plain bad.

Finally, I found Flip PDF, which makes flipping eBooks out of PDF files. Since Word and InDesign, the two programs that I use most for page layout, easily create PDF files, I gave it a try.

I’m extremely happy with it.

Check out this short flipping eBook of (mostly) flowers:

Flowers of the World

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Visit
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat