Hill Country

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Wildlife Photos: Subject + Light + Background–Painted Bunting

_dsc3212When most people think of wildlife photos – whether of Mammals, Birds, or Reptiles – they think of the subject. But there is a lot more to making a compelling photograph of an animal in nature than the subject. Light plays an essential role, for starters. Dull, drab, images are seldom capable of commanding our attention. Backgrounds, while under-rated, are also key. All three came together in this image of a Painted Bunting from our Hill Country bird photo workshop this week. Each element plays a role… Read more »

Bird photo blinds: Studios or Habitats?

This Summer Tanager was photographed in a tree along the Guadalupe River, without using a blind or artificial perch of any type.Having just returned from two weeks of really fun and very productive photography on some of the best private ranches in south Texas, I’ve had a lot of time to think and rethink about the design of the bird blinds we used, and some of the others we saw in use. In this case I’m not talking about the physical blind structures where we, the photographers, sit. That part of the blinds has continued to evolve for the better over the six plus years I’ve been shooting there. They are more comfortable and better positioned than ever. No, in this case I’m talking about the part of the blind where the real action is, the “stage” where birds and mammals hopefully appear and are photographed… Read more »

Using Iris Blur in Photoshop CS6 to direct attention

djc_6713cOne of the niftiest new filters in Photoshop’s bag of tricks is the Iris Blur filter. It mimics the behavior of limited depth of field by blurring the image outside a customizable “iris” shape. As usual, Photoshop provides plenty of options for controlling the radius of the non-blurred area (both an inner “hot spot” and outer "total effect” area), the shape of the iris, and the amount of focusing you want within the iris. Unlike using a wide-open aperture on your camera to blur the background, Photoshop doesn’t “know” which objects are close or far, so you need to craft the shape of the iris yourself. Fortunately Photoshop also lets you add multiple different iris blurs to create effects that would not be possible with a camera… Read more »

Fixing lens flare using Photoshop CS6’s Content-aware Patch tool

djc_6163hgLens flare can be a major problem when photographing wide-angle scenics, especially through large groves of trees. Sometimes the sun is close enough to the frame that it isn’t possible to completely block it out without changing the composition of the photograph. Removing it after the fact is difficult if not impossible with traditional photo editing tools. One common approach is to use the Patch tool in Photoshop. Fortunately for all of us, the new Photoshop CS6 Patch tool can be made content-aware, and does a remarkably solid job helping fix lens flare… Read more »

Move Over Picasso: One-Shot HDR is Here

Many of us who have wound up in photography wish we could be artists. And while automated computer tools will hopefully never be a substitute for human talent each year there are some new, cool processing options for our digital images which add artistic effects. This year’s leading contender in my book is the new HDR Toning filter in Adobe Photoshop CS5…