Not quite a Kaon – Just a Saying.

If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your own path.

~ Buddhist saying

(Cabrillo Point Lighthouse, California in the fog).

A Kaon

Spirit of the Woodland

Let it be still and it will gradually become clear.

~ Lao Tzu

Zen Kaon (Illustrated)

A flower falls even though we love it and a weed grows even though we do not love it.

~ Dogen Zenji

Photograph of the Week

I’m rather proud of this image. It’s of the sun through the misty early morning woods in Alabama. Getting it “just right” took more than a little trickery.

The original isn’t bad,

but no matter how I adjusted it as a single layer, it just wasn’t the way I liked. Not that there is a great difference between almost right and just right. I think it’s a little too busy and a getting a good balance between foreground and background is hard.

So I cut the lit areas of the background out.

Then I used  Gaussian blur on the original image to produce a smooth bright background:

These were then layered together resulting in a composite that I think hits the spot

I’ve used the same sort of techniques in portraiture – both to brighten hair and remove distracting background without causing the picture to cross the “uncanny valley” into caricature, but that’s for another post.

Fur and Feathers

I’ve joined one of the groups of photographers in the Atlanta area: the Southeastern Photography Society. Partially for social reasons, and partially to get feedback and learn new things.

Anyway they have monthly themed contests and next month’s is “Fur and Feathers.” The obvious choice is animals, though I did entertain several alternatives, and maybe will pursue them. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone with a feather boa who wears fur and would be willing to be an outrageous model. I wondered about a still life of fish flies or lures since they often use both fur and feathers; and something tells me that my puppies would not be keen on being dressed up with a bunch of feathers. So the obvious choice it is.

I get to put in a black and white/monochrome entry and a color one. 

This one is one of my favorites, just because it’s funny. 

I also like this one of our puppy. It looks like a Julia Ward Cameron work. Either of these will work well enough.

Feathers are a different case.

A bird is an obvious choice:

A closeup of a bluejay feather is also possible:

I have a lighter and a darker version of this, but the mid-range is probably best.

This close up of the edge of a turkey feather is neat, though there are some artefacts from the focus stacking.

What do you think?

Landing in the Microverse

This science-fiction landscape is actually an extreme closeup of a decomposing Oak branch. 

Cool, aint it? There’s a tiny mite near the left side and at least three small fungi spore bodies (or possibly slime molds). If you like seeing new worlds, and I do, this is exciting.

I’ll be experimenting with ultraclose photography in the new year. It practically begs for focus stacking – where you overlap a stack of images based on the focus. The lens I’m using is basically a microscope lens adapted onto a mount for my cameras. It’s only a 20mm lens, but you must be within a couple of centimeters to focus. And by the way, you focus by moving the camera, not the lens. So a focusing rail and sturdy tripod are de rigueur  so to say.  I’m also curious to see what happens when I use extension tubes to move the lens away from the camera body and increase the magnification. 

Still there’s a lot to see even with single shots.

This jungle is a common species of moss:

And English Ivy sparkles with color or perhaps it should be colour, even though it’s dark from the cold.

I didn’t know that and wouldn’t have noticed it with just my eyes.

These images probably won’t make it onto our website, though I’m not sure about the first as it is intrinsically interesting, but drop me a line if you’d like a copy (I’ll probably aske you to sign up for the mailing list though).

Artwork of the week 1/6/23

One of the big differences between “just snapshots” and art photography is that the artist thinks about what they’re doing, what they’re trying to show, and how to achieve the desired result. 

I’ve been reading and studying techniques of composition because … well … that’s one way to learn. The other is way is to go out and shoot, I’ve been doing that as well, and I’m hoping to have meaningful interactions with some of the local photography groups. (We’ll see about that last part, I tried before with one group and had a less than stellar experience. Cliques and in-groups are a thing.)

One book I’ve found useful is Richard Garvey-Williams “mastering composition”   It’s inspired me to look again at how I edit images. You can’t always plan out photographs in the wild. You can try, but nature has a way of doing what she wants and the process of observation often perturbs the environment. Shades of quantum mechanics, say what? 

Today’s images show what I mean.  (and they are or soon will be available on this site.)

The original is pretty, enough, but it’s out of balance and a bit washed out.

Cropping, playing with the image chromatic values (adjusting the image values to remove saturation and then adjusting the midpoint level), and using various trickery to restore the size results in:

This is a vastly better image. The subject dominates the picture and the lines defined by the flowers leads the eyes to it.

Much the same happens with this image of a Swallowtail. Before:

and after:

Bon Secour NWR

A follow up to my post on RVs. 

One of the highlights of our trip was exploring the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. We were about a mile down the road from it, and while route 180 is fast, there are wide margins so that it is eminantly walkable.

X marks the approximate location of Fort Morgan RV park.

I have a birding life list into the hundreds and was still able to identify five new species without serious birding. (Just walking with binocculars in hand.)  We walked there three times: first, late in the afternoon to the junction of the Gator Lake trail and the Pine Branch trail (4 miles round trip),  second, to the shore on the Pine Branch trail (6 miles round trip), and lastly to the Gator Lake trail returning via Mobile street, the shore, and the Pine Branch trail (8 miles round trip).


A Sandriling

Since pets (dogs) are not allowed in the refuge and there are not that many people who visit, the birds are quite tame. The Sandriling walked within two feet of me.

Fifteen inches (1/3 meter) of rain will flood the trails.

There were mosquitos, even at the winter solstice, so a summer visit should include insect repellent and quite possibly a face net.

Without trying, we saw:

  • Osprey
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Brown Pelican
  • Sandriling
  • Snowy Plover
  • Willet
  • Common Loon
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double Crested Cormorant
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead
  • White-eyed Vireo

There were gulls (of course) and crows, as well as several varieties of sparrow, that we didn’t identify.  Not to mention these guys, who scared off the plover.

The Blue Angels.

My Portfolio

My photography portfolio is online. Take a look.

Dunster Loop #Exmoor #UKwalks

I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the second.

This started out as a “pub walk” from the house we hired in Wootton Courtenay – and we did get to one, about seven miles in. After several missed turns and places where the map … deviated from the trails on the ground.

This shows our GPS trace overlaid on the most current Ordinance Survey map. These differences made it a bit interesting.

I covered the first part of the hike on an earlier post where we hunted a local pub. So you can read that post for details. We take this walk up at the village of Timberscombe.

Saint Petrock’s church in Timberscombe

We headed uphill on the wrong road, but eventually found our way to where we could see Dunster in the distance.

Dunster’s there, somewhere.

If you get to this carved bird (the buzzard), you’ve gone too far.

Some of the local landmarks have a decidedly sci-fi name. Is Gallox bridge in Gallifrey?

Gallox Bridge

Inside the Stag.

We stopped in the Stag – which is an excellent pub – and let two sweaty, dirty, and tired hikers enjoy their pints inside. It had a guitar in the corner so if you were a better player than I am, you could entertain the crowds (or if you were a better runner you might escape the disapprobriation.)

 

 

The path heads uphill, of course, from the town. It winds its way past St. Leonard’s well (Shades of Blackadder) along a ridge.

St Leonard’s well. Locked, but making the footpath mucky for the last thousand years.

There is an excellent set of views of Minehead from the exposed ridge. The sun is shining on Butlin’s holiday camp.

Minehead.

Minehead in the distance

We also wanted to look for this weird feature – seen on google maps.

Unfortunately, it’s nothing special.

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