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Archive for December, 2012

We have had temperatures below freezing most nights recently and many of the ponds at my local marshland are now covered with a thin sheet of ice. I was a little shocked today to see that ducks and geese continue to fly in and out of the pond, in some cases landing on the ice itself (some of the birds find areas that are not frozen over in which to land).

I am working on a number of photos showing these migrating birds on ice, but I thought I’d share this initial image. The goose to the left seemed to be sounding the alarm, signalling the others that it was time to fly away. As you can see from his open mouth, he was honking loudly and was flapping his wings. If you focus your attention on his feet, it looks like he may be slipping on the ice as a result of his vigorous actions. The two geese in the background appear to be ignoring him and all of his noise, although they may have joined him when he took off a few seconds later.

alarm

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you ever play with the white balance of a photo in post-processing? I never realized before that a simple change to the white balance can fundamentally change the feel of some images.

I am currently using Photoshop Elements and the white balance slider is something that I haven’t experimented with much when processing my RAW images. Normally my camera is set to automatic white balance, so I don’t worry too much about the temperature of the light being wrong. I was thinking a lot about light, however, when looking at an image of reflected moonlight that I shot last week. I shot it at ISO100, f20, and 20 seconds. According to my computer, the image as shot had a color temperature of 3950 Kelvin. Wondering what would happen I changed the temperature to something different, I moved the temperature to the shade setting of 7500 K.

Transformed moonlight

Transformed moonlight

Suddenly my cool, moon-lit scene looks like a warm sunset. To give you an idea of the initial image, I went back to the RAW file and changed the color temperature to its original setting.  The image is not exactly as it came out of the camera, because I made some other changes in Camera RAW, but you can see the big difference.

The second image is closer to what my eye saw, but in many ways I like the transformed image more. My unofficial resolution for the coming year may be to learn more about processing my photos (and there seems to be an awful lot to learn).

Moonlight

Moonlight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past weekend I spent some more time watching migrating geese and and attempting to photograph them in flight. Often the geese flew in large formations, though sometimes they would arrive and depart in pairs. As I looked overt my photos, though, my favorite photos of the day feature geese trios.

I love shots like these in which it’s fun to compare the positions of the different birds, and the degree to which they are synchronizing or varying their body positions and wing movements. Each of these photos seems to form a mini-progression within itself, as though they were made up of multiple exposures of a single bird.

goose triogoose trio 2

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past Friday I was up before the dawn to try to photograph the almost-full moon and already posted some photos of the moonlight reflected in the water and of the sunrise. As I was making my way along the boardwalk in the marsh, I saw that geese were asleep in the fields. With my camera on a tripod, I took some photos. This was shot at ISO100, f11, and a 25 second exposure. I like the fact that the moonlight was strong enough to cause a reflection in the water and illuminated what looks to be a thin sheet of ice on the water.

Goose asleep in the moonlight

Goose asleep in the moonlight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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My neighbor, noted blogger and photographer Cindy Dyer, has a really cool garden on the side of her townhouse. Earlier this year I took a lot of photos of flowers and insects there, including one of my most popular postings on a mysterious creature on the lavender plant.

I hadn’t checked out the garden in a month or so and was surprised to see that some of the flowers were still blooming yesterday. I was especially drawn to a flower that looks a little bit like a sunflower—I am not sure exactly what it is. I tried to shoot different blooms from different angles to capture a sense of the depth of the flower. I don’t usually use flash with flowers, but I made some attempts with my built-in flash cranked down low,which I think accounts for the black background in some images.

Here are some of my favorite images of these flowers. They look like they might have been shot with a macro lens, but I was actually using a telephoto lens.

flower6_blogflower3_blog flower5_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Another squirrel photo? In the past few months I have posted a number of photos of Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis). yet I  continue to attempt to photograph them whenever I can. Each time, the light is different, the environment is different, and the squirrel is different.

I really like the colors in this photo, the shades of brown and red, especially the way the brown-red surrounding the squirrel’s eyes is repeated in the exposed wood of the branch. I also like the unique characteristics of this squirrel, his cute pose and his little notched ear.

Another squirrel? I’m sure that squirrels will be featured again in my blog. In my suburban lifestyle, many days they may be my only link to nature.

Squirrel in tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The skies turned dark and gray this morning and rain gradually turned into snow, a wet snow with large flakes that quickly covered the ground. It snowed hard for an hour or so, but the snow clouds eventually blew away and sunshine arrived to destroy all of evidence of the snowfall.

As the snow was falling, however, I went walking through the neighborhood with an umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. Wondering if I would see any birds (I had visions of brightly-colored cardinals on pine branches against a backdrop of snow), I heard the unmistakable sound of a crow. It wasn’t hard to locate him and as I was focusing on him he took off. Mainly on instinct, I snapped a photo and got an interesting photo.

It’s a moody, dark photo that is perhaps a little ominous.  The crow seems to be a perfect match for the rest of the elements of the scene.

I’ll have to wait for another time for photos of beautiful birds in the sunshine with glistening snow.

Crow in the snow

Crow in the snow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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