Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Little This ~ A Little That

Odds & Ends

 Although life is busy and I'm officially off my regular posting schedule, I miss you:>)  Once sanity returns and everything is back to normal, I'll post each Friday once again.  For today, however, I'm going to focus on showing you some pictures.  I hope you enjoy this post; it's different from what I normally do with nature and information regarding our subjects.

Life is filled with amusing moments, and this picture is one example.  My husband and I were running errands in another town, and we saw this sign.  It isn't one we've seen before and it made us laugh.  A sense of humor, even by a local borough police department, goes a long way to getting cooperation.

Self-explanatory - LOL
Chocolate Slime Mold isn't something I find all the time, and finding it on a decaying stump was like finding a treasure.  Slime molds are not fungi and they are not plants.  They are also not exactly animals, so what are they?  

They begin life as spores and are single-celled amoeboid protists crawling around looking for food.  Eventually they merge with others like them and form one big cell with lots and lots of nuclei.  They transform into a spore-making body to reproduce, and this picture is of that stage in their life.

The name Protista means "the very first", and these are very elemental, early life forms.  Check this out:  

Amoebas are single-celled animals (  ).
For a couple years I've been dreaming of a lens that could take excellent pictures of birds. Of course the photographer has more to do with it than the lens, but even so . . .  I went to Cardinal Camera and spent some time talking to the youngsters who man the store (excellent photographers and extremely helpful without any hard sell).  We decided I could improve by using a Tamron lens, 150 - 600.  The cost was around $1,800.00, and it was so new that I had to prepay and wait for 2 months to get it.  The serial number is in the mid 3 digits!! Me!  I got one of the first!  YAY!

When it came in and I went to pick it up, I knew immediately it was too heavy for me to hold.  I didn't have a tripod and didn't want one, so I purchased a monopod - a stick with a place to attach the camera on one end.  It worked, but the lens was still too heavy for me to manage.  I did, eventually, buy a tripod.  

Today I went outside and got set up in a place where I could see the hummingbirds like to sit and catch a breath.  I need more days to practice, but there is one photo to share with you.  This is an immature female - no ruby throat.  The fancy feathers are reserved for the guys.

By the way, the Tamron lens is magnificent even if it did take every last penny I'd saved for a new lens.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Now, on to a totally different theme - messing around with pictures to make them "artsy-fartsy".  Most of my family and some of my friends just HATE when I do this.  It's fun.  In case anyone is interested in this process, I'm going to show a few.  This is just a flight of fancy on my part; light-hearted fun:>)

Although some enhanced photos get mixed into the regular blog posts, they are not included there because of the enhancements but because they fit a subject. 

First is a picture of the Asian Dayflower wildflower.  The original and two enhanced versions are below.  (  )

Asian Dayflower - Original picture

This has two layers of what is called "texture work" melded into the original photo.

This has a "frame" and a couple layers for color changes and subtle textures.

This next picture began life as a simple photo of some of our tomatoes.  The old fruit crate labels are, in my opinion, charming, and old seed packets are similarly attractive.  I made the picture into a fantasy seed packet.

Thistle seeds are beautiful - so delicate and light.  This picture got the softening treatment and most of the color was removed.  I then tinted the picture a gentle taupe.  (  )

Thistle seeds
Here are two pictures of Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies that are enhanced in very different ways.  (  )

The first is done in "High Dynamic Range", or HDR.  Some of the newer cameras will give photographers an option, right in the camera, to do this.  I have software called Photomatix Pro which allows for a lot of adjustments from the user.  I prefer the software.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Daylily
 This second picture uses textures which are layers added to the original picture.  It's like stacking two or more photos on top of each other, adjusting how transparent each layer (photo) is, what color it is, and what parts of each photo are the strongest.

Female Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Butterfly Bush.  Females have the blue color on their wings - males have mostly black.
Multiflora Roses grow wild all around our locale.  This image is a combination of the flowers (spring) and rose hips (autumn) combined, then a texture layer was added.  (  )

Multiflora Rose
Meet Spot The Magnificent.  He's our adopted feral kitten and he really gave us a run for our money early on.  I'm thinking about posting his story - how we got him socialized, the trials and tribulations.  If I decide to do this, most of the story will be writing, not pictures, because he's a perpetual motion machine and I need to learn my camera better before I can capture a decent picture.

This post is about messing around with pictures, however, not the story of Spot!  This was Spot after he came home from the vet; ballet is his strong suit!

Spot dancing - Original photo
Spot dancing - here you see a background image and a frame layer.
Now - meet our lover boy at approximately 12 weeks old - not sure exactly when he was born but this is a pretty good guess for his age.  Poor baby has a shaved spot on his right front leg where the vet gave him an IV.

Japanese Iris are so lovely, especially when grown in a large grouping.  They are not the big, bearded kind but rather smaller and more elegant (I think).

Original photo of Japanese Iris Flower
The two pictures below show two different kinds of textures used to enhance the image after I removed the greenery from the original picture.

The people who create lovely textures for others to use in their art are both creative and generous.  Many offer some free to those interested, some ask only for a donation but do not ever ask for money if you don't donate, and some are making a professional living from selling them - some do both the freebies and the sales. Most of what I use are offered free or I make them myself.

In case anyone is interested, the links below go to the sites of the people offering the textures you've seen here.

Until we meet again:>)