The Wisley redwings have a very important message for everyone today! Small decorations and their parts can be a choking hazard to pets and young children, as demonstrated by this helpful redwing. Try to place them out of reach and if you have dogs, please don’t hang chocolates on your tree as it’s toxic to them. We don’t place any decorations on the lower part of our tree (including the lights) and we place the tree in a corner, with gifts and other obstacles around it to protect our cats. Tinsel is well known for causing intestinal blockages in pets so it’s best left in that box! Even the pine needles on live trees can cause intestinal problems. If you see your pets chewing branches please try to block off the tree from their reach or do as we do and get a synthetic tree. It’s still very pretty! Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia can all be poisonous to your pets. Mistletoe is also harmful to humans, so please keep it well out of reach of children and make sure you clear up any fallen berries. You can educate your children about the dangers of toxic plants when they’re old enough but I haven’t yet found a way to educate my cats!
Finally the redwings would like me to remind you all to keep feeding the birds!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!