Recently I have been spending a little time “playing” with pictures during the editing process. I am not known as, nor should I be, a manipulator of images. I have however, since the birth of digital imagery, done the normal editing in a effort to if not improve, at least maintain the quality of the original file.
A few weeks ago I playfully showed you some images that had been converted to black & white, where I then added back one small splash of color (usually red) into the photo. That is admittedly a bit silly, but in my more creative dreams, I have found myself in such a place many times. There I am in a black & white world, with one small bit of shocking color. While working with my pictures (not in the dream), I then got carried away and left some images in their original color, but with a black and white sky.
Back to the real world, sort of.
One thing I will do, is clone out an errant branch or weed that may creep into the picture frame, especially if the primary subject is birds. Of course, that is not truly the real world as I found it, but I do not think there are ten wildlife photographers in the world who do not do that.
Below I take the cloning process to a more extreme conclusion.
The first image of two Forster’s Terns in a squabble over fishing rights, had been originally shot in the horizontal format. I just barely got the bottom tern in the picture frame. I do like the image as you see it. I like the distance between the two birds, and how the bottom one seems to be squawking “I’m gonna get ya”, and I think the vertical chase is exemplified by the distance between the terns.
I have always imagined that most people, would prefer to have the bottom bird more in the heart of the picture frame, and closer to the bird being chased. So, out came the cloning brush.
I simply cloned the bottom bird, section by section into the open space below the top bird. Then I used that same cloning tool to copy blue sky over what was now a third bird. That of course being, the one at the bottom of the photo.
It took me about a minute and a half to accomplish the whole job. I used 10 year old editing software called Microsoft Digital Image Pro.
Removing a few weeds is more in keeping with my view of cloning, but the cloning of whole animals is certainly something that has been happening since the early 1990s, as photographers began making digital scans of their slides, and editing software became available.
Through my years of experience, I was usually able to make pleasing composition of most subjects that I photographed. That said, I was always experimenting, even with comps that went against my instincts, or any natural art they may live within me. Most of the time those arrangements don’t work very well, or at least they created a finished picture that only a minority of future viewers would enjoy. I’m okay with that. Using your instincts, using available compositional tools, and calling on your experience are the best ways to create winners, but being counter intuitive is the way to discover new horizons.
In the case of these two old images which were made at Arches N.P., I simply got tired of looking at the arches the same two or three ways over and over.
I didn’t create any winners, nor did I make any absolute losers, but I prospered in experience and had fun taking compositional risks.
I’ve shown a lot of fox pictures on these pages. As I’ve shared them over the years, I have come back to the 40 or so images that have always had good responses. Those that are less popular eventually wind up languishing in my files. It is not unheard for me to like the ones that nobody else did. Maybe there is a lot of weeds or such in the picture, the fox maybe back-lit, it may even have its back turned to the camera. Maybe I was not quite able to garner the technical perfection I would have liked. Below are a few such images.
After many years of photographing Mute Swans, I finally, with the aid of some birders, began accumulating nice files of Trumpeter Swans, and Tundra Swans. Wisconsin is merely a brief stopover for the migrating Tundra Swans. I caught this family in central Wisconsin. The smaller, dirty looking ones were born in the arctic just a few months earlier. Many birds have incredibly hard lives. I was just happy to share some moments of those lives.
Another critter that has occupied my time and attention as well as my affection is the Common Snapping Turtle. Some people love to run over turtles with their cars, especially snappers. Turtles are my friends.
For those of you who are in my area, it is very close to the time of the year that many female turtles, especially Snapping Turtles, will be laying eggs, often near roadsides. The lady you see below just finished laying eggs at a location in far northeastern Illinois, on June 6, 2009.
There’s probably no subject more important to the part-time bird photographer than the backyard bird. In 2011 and 2012 I spent countless hours sitting comfortably in my own backyard, photography birds and other native critters.
I got several opportunities with this Common Grackle but I prefer this shot with its mouth wide open. Grackles are noisy birds.
We have progressed in these parts nicely through a lot of the woodland flower season, and soon the prairie flowers will bloom. I love photographing flowers, and working on the prairie holds fond memories for me. These Prairie Coneflowers were calling my name.
What’s calling your name?
————————————————————————————————————————————–Life is full of movement. There is an infinite number of ways to accomplish that movement.
As a kid (and my 20s, 30s and so on) I explored. In the summer, I could not wait to get up in the morning (often at sunrise), go outside and begin exploring. Along the shores of Lake Michigan, in the farm fields, and in the near-by city. I wanted to explore and understand everything.
Through much of my young adulthood, I kept moving. From one living quarters to the next. Apartments, upper flats, duplexes and so on. One city, then another, then another. Then another state. While in that state, I moved time and time again. I owned horses and I moved them over and over again.
While still in my teens, I moved on to marriage. In my thirties I moved out of marriage. Through seven years of marital separation, and for many years after divorce, I moved from person to person.
As a photographer, I never stopped moving. From one location to the next, and from one subject to the next.
Some scientists say that nesting or belonging, is natural to man. My life in recent years would seem to confirm that, but I truly feel “unnatural” when there is a lack of movement in my life. Maybe we are not all born to fulfill one socially accepted form of being.
One thing I do know, if you move literally when you have the opportunity, you can then continue to move figuratively for the rest of your life.