Category Archives: Digital photo editing

What to do in retirement….

Back in 2003, I stopped by a plant nursery in Solana Beach, California, after a home inspection. I had never been to it, did not know about it, and simply stumbled upon it while delaying going home in rush hour traffic. I used to include 10% discount coupons to the nursery in my home inspection reports, and I know that many of my home inspection clients used the coupons.

Fast forward to 2017. I stopped by Solana Succulents to tell the owner that I had retired as a home inspector. He thanked me for all the years of sending my clients to his nursery. He gave me free copies of his first two books that he had authored, “Under the Spell of Succulents” and “Soft Succulents.”

Jeff Moore books

He had a third book, “Aloes & Agaves in Cultivation,” that was in the process of being printed, and he was starting on a fourth book to be titled “Spiny Succulents.” I went home and immediately started reading the two books and looking at the glorious pictures.

Since I was a copyeditor and writer for the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, and the University Press at Texas A&M University from 1983 to 1987, as well as the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University for six months in 1987, I have this habit of looking for errors in my reading materials—makes it really fun to read the uncorrected advance editions of novels that my husband brings home from Warwick’s bookstore at the San Diego Airport.

After several pages, I noticed that there were a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors, as well as some word use (“compliment” instead of “complement”) and spelling errors (it’s for its). I went back to page one and decided to make a list. Whenever I find a huge number of errors, I always inform the author, and that’s what I did with Jeff Moore’s books.

Fast forward another two years. Jeff asked me if I would like to do the final editing and design layout on his “Spiny Succulents” book. I was an easy sale. I got the pages on January 30. 350 pages to edit and create the final layout. I just finished page 139.

I wanted to share a few pictures of some of the beautiful plants in the book. You’re getting a free look that no one else has had. These are low-resolution pictures specifically for my WordPress blog. Enjoy!

Front Cover
Front cover

Adenium obesum
Adenium

Turbinocarpus pseudopectinatus
Turbinocarpus pseudopectinatus

Collection

Collection

Euphorbia woodii
Euphorbia woodii

Euphorbia pulcherrima
Yes, the Christmas poinsettia is a succulent!
Euphorbia pulcherrima

Trichocereus hybrids
Trichocereus hybrids

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

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Saving throwaway pictures

How I Did It

I took a picture this morning of two black tree monitors (Varanus beccari) cuddling in the Reptile House at the San Diego Zoo. Sadly, the picture is focused on the leg of one of the monitors:

Varanus beccari

It’s a poor picture. Many photographers would call it a “throwaway” and promptly delete it. Not me. As my wise old grandmother told me: “Don’t throw anything away! There is no away!”

Hint for taking pictures of wildlife: Focus on the eyes; everything else will fall into place.

Since have so many different picture editing software programs, I decided to see if I could make something “artsy fartsy” out of it.

Here’s the one I like the most (so far!), using Fractalius G4 software by Redfield:

Varanus beccari

Considering what digital photo editing software was available 20 years ago, I wonder what I might be able to do with “throwaway” pictures in another 20 years.

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

Picture of the Moment—Super blue blood moon

Picture of the Moment

 I think I might have gotten a one-of-a-kind picture of the Super Blue Blood Moon just minutes for the eclipse, and minutes before sunrise here in San Diego started interfering too severely with the moon.

You be the judge.

Super Blue Blood Moon

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

Picture of the Moment—Meet Robyn Gordon Grevilla

Picture of the Moment

My new macro lens is a 90mm lens, which means that I can capture things that are a fairly good distance away.

Couple that with the fact that my camera takes pictures that are 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels, add in the ability to crop in Photoshop, and the following two pictures show what is possible.

Original Picture
Original picture

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But look at the cropped picture:

Cropped Picture
Cropped picture

Apparently its name is Robyn Gordon Grevilla.

I’m really liking my new macro lens.

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

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-8-17)—San Diego Botanic Garden in December

Friday Flower Fiesta

I like to take my photographs and kind of mess them up in Photoshop and various other programs so that they don’t look like photographs anymore. That means I’m always on the lookout for new digital photo editing programs. One I discovered a few days ago is called “Impresso Pro” by a company called JixiPix. They claim to have

a long and lucrative history developing well-known 3D, Video and Multi-Media software, not to mention an industry of iOS and Android apps. Thanks to the response from our users, we have been recognized as one of the top developers from Apple, Mac World, USA Today and other industry leaders.”

Yet they don’t have a page on Wikipedia….

Nonetheless, following are 24 photographs from my December visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden, messed up a little bit in Impresso Pro.

Which one is your favorite?

1 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

2 – AgaveSan Diego Botanic Garden

3 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

4San Diego Botanic Garden

5 – PassionflowerSan Diego Botanic Garden

6San Diego Botanic Garden

7San Diego Botanic Garden

8 – Day Lily & visitorSan Diego Botanic Garden

9 – FigSan Diego Botanic Garden

10San Diego Botanic Garden

11 – Bamboo TunnelSan Diego Botanic Garden

12San Diego Botanic Garden

13 – AgavesSan Diego Botanic Garden

14 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

15 – Woodpecker treeSan Diego Botanic Garden

16 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

17 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

18San Diego Botanic Garden

19 – CycadSan Diego Botanic Garden

20 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

21 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

22 – Shaw’s AgaveSan Diego Botanic Garden

23 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

24 – SunflowersSan Diego Botanic Garden

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

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

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