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Kestrel Portrait

Female Kestrel

Kestrel Portrait

My hubby and I braved the elements on Saturday to go to the Cheese and Chilli Festival near Guildford on Saturday. We were all hoping for a break in the rain to watch the GMG Falconry display! No such luck, complete washout. The birds were out on perches under gazebos but they were still getting a bit damp and chilly. I did manage to take a few portraits and I really like the way the damp feathers brought exaggerated detail to this female kestrel’s expression! She had puffed her feathers up to get a bit more insulation from the damp and cold. Such a beautiful bird but she really wasn’t impressed. The phrase “fed up” actually comes from falconry language. It was used to describe a bird that had eaten enough food that it wasn’t interested in flying anymore, literally fed up! The birds on display certainly looked completely fed up but not from feeding. Birds of prey really can’t fly in such heavy rain! Although oils spread through their feathers give them a certain amount of weatherproofing, a wild kestrel would have been hunkered down in a tree or rock roost waiting for the rain to pass. We decided that it was too wet to stick around and returned to our own roost to wait out the weather! So my choices for today’s Fotospeed challenge were limited but I can’t really complain when I had this lovely kestrel.

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Unlocking The Landscape Part 5

The Towpath is popular with dog-walkers

Unlocking The Landscape Part 5

Jude (The Earth Laughs In Flowers) commented the other day how much she liked the processing of the Lock Gate photos, that they were reminiscent of a Constable Painting. John Constable was well known for producing romantic images of the English Landscape and I often find that his visions are in the back of my mind when I’m out photographing scenes and later processing them at home. This one’s for you Jude!

Lock Gates with a painted effect

New four-legged friends:

The towpath of the Basingstoke Canal is very popular with dog-walkers. The dogs themselves just love it out there! New friends to make, lots of interesting smells, sticks, squirrels, ducks, people, children and the water itself. I really love meeting dogs out on the path and very often have an interesting chat with their owners, many of whom are passionate about the local environment and have a good eye for the wildlife too. It was a dog walker who first alerted me to the appearance of our two lovely kingfishers!

And some old favourites:

Part of Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

Barn Owl Flight

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

The saying goes, “It’s the early bird that catches the worm”. This week we were challenged to get up early and capture the morning light. My challenge while in Devon over Easter, was to get up much earlier than I usually do and catch the birds! Specifically, birds of prey. I’ve been sharing a few of these images with you over the past few weeks, but this montage took some time to compose and get the feel of motion and light that I wanted. The story that I hoped to tell with this image is of the special relationship between the owl and her owner.

This is Pepper, a pure-breed British Barn Owl (Tyto alba alba), flying to her handler, Steve Hopper from South Hams Hawks and Owls. Steve is a falconer who runs a raptor rescue centre and flies his birds of prey for educational displays and photography groups. Pepper was rescued at the age of sixteen when her owner passed away. She’s now twenty one, which is very elderly for a Barn Owl! She’s almost completely blind so can only manage short exercise flights, relying upon the sound of Steve’s voice and the taps he makes on the glove to guide her to him. Watching her short flights was a real privilege. She flies high and, as Steve put it, creates wonderful “angel” shapes with her wings.

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NaBloPoMo – My Cats and Photo Apps

Luna

NaBloPoMo – My Cats and Photo Apps

As you may have already guessed, I’m only posting photos taken and processed on my phone for NaBloPoMo 2014. I’ve had some great feedback on the processing! My favourite app is Google Photos that comes with Google +. There are lots of styles and presets, many of which can be modified, as well as manual tonal adjustments, HDR, Drama, B&W, Vignettes and Frames. Personally I find this the most versatile and comprehensive free app for artistic processing.

I’ve just added the Adobe Photoshop Express App and Adobe Photoshop Touch. I think they both give some good quality, basic adjustments. PS Touch has some really great features, akin to Photoshop CC or CS6, that I think I need to investigate further. They should be brilliant for my abstract work! Whoever would have thought that you could create layers in a phone app!!! Images that are processed in Touch are saved to Creative Cloud so I can download them as needed. The PS Elements app comes with free basic adjustments but you pay for their “premium” filters. Worth it just for the noise reduction! I paid for PS Touch app as I really think I can have a lot of fun with it on-the-go. I think it would work much better on a tablet than the smartphone but we shall have to see what I can create with it!

For today I’ve photographed our two cats and processed a version in both Google Photos and PS Touch to see what you think of the quality and artistic enhancements.

Juno – Original, Google Photos, PS Touch

Luna – Original, Google Photos, PS Touch

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Cute Caturday!

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It’s NaBloPoMo time and I will attempt a photo a day throughout November, alongside regular challenges! Today I’m posting a rather cute photo of one of our cats, Luna, from my phone.

I think my Sony Xperia and the Android app for WordPress will be a great help in sharing so many posts over the month! Hope you enjoy them all 🙂

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Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Textured And Endearing

Her Best Friend

Weekly Photo and Travel Theme Challenges: Textured And Endearing

I’m actually a bit late with my post this week! It’s been a busy one. I very nearly used this image for last week’s Travel Theme: Simplify, as the photo was taken in a busy park with numerous distractions in the background that I’d needed to eliminate. I decided to do this using several textured masking layers in Photoshop, to draw the viewers focus back to the endearing portrait of the girl with her young puppy.

You can create your own textures to use in this way simply by photographing interesting textured scenes or objects. Rocks, fabrics, bricks and handmade paper are all great for this! There are a number of websites offering free texture downloads for personal and commercial use and right here on WordPress you can visit Public Domain Textures for a wide selection to choose from. Thank you to Leanne Cole for introducing me to the blog, for which she is a regular contributor!

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Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Clint in B&W

Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Monochrome Madness has reached its 22nd week and is still full of surprises and diversity! Thank you to Leanne Cole and Laura Macky for bringing us all together.

I wanted to talk about the processing that went into creating my image for this weeks challenge. I spotted this beautiful horse, a show jumper called Clint, at the Elm Lane Stables where young Mylie was competing in her first show.

He was braying for my attention and I couldn’t resist! Such beautiful lines and markings, he reminded me so much of some of the horses that I used to love painting and sketching.

His pasture was elevated from my position which enabled me to get a great base image of his profile against the sky from which I could work on to get the look I wanted.

 

Pre-edit

I imported my original image into Lightroom to get all my levels, hues, saturation and contrast right. I also cleaned up the foreground, removing the strands of grass and thistle with the cloning tool.

First edit in Lightroom

I really like this edit, it’s soft and natural. However, I really wanted to get the look of a pencil or charcoal drawing. I tried a monochrome edit in the Nik Software plugin but I wasn’t happy with the results this time. I just couldn’t quite get the detail right!

Nik Software edit

At this stage I imported my first Lightroom edit into Photoshop CC to make use of some of my customisable Action Pre-sets and brush tools. I was able to isolate my subject using the wand and selection tools to get a crisp white background. I managed to achieve a really punchy, vibrant edit, reminiscent of a pastel drawing, which I accentuated using the smudge and blur tools.

Final Colour Edit

I then used the Greater Than Gatsby Timeless Black and White Action, with a few custom tweaks for my Monochrome Madness image. Really happy with it and I hope you like it too! Here’s a gallery to show the evolution from start to finish.