Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sudden heat and Equine COPD

After a 6 months of winter then one of the coldest Aprils on record...


Suddenly we have three days of 80+ degree days with high dew points [translates into uncomfortable].

How does that affect the COPD/ROA Equine?

First off, high temps and high humidity affect all farm animals, especially if they are not acclimated yet.
The Dexter cattle were slightly stressed with elevated breathing and so were the healthy equine.
Plenty of cool water seems to help. Plus shade if the sun is beating down on them.

How about Badger?
His respirations are up but not too alarming. He seems to be eating quite normal and eating with vigor.
For this I breath a sigh of relief.
Of course, we've had plenty of rain so I believe this has been a huge factor in his breathing ease. The dust and perhaps some of the harmful pollens have been 'dampened'.

Badger doesn't have any idea that he has a 'condition'. He played with the younger two animals in his paddock last night. He shook his head, bucked and loped a circle, then tossed his head as the little ones chased each other around.

We are supposed to get back into more seasonal temperatures by this weekend. So perhaps Badger, Morris, and I can go hunting for morel mushrooms and wildflower photo ops.

NOTE:  This was supposed to have been published on 5-13-2011

Topaz Star Effects ~ Review and Samples

 So I've had Topaz Star Effects for a few days now.  I have some issues with it but I believe Topaz Labs will be improving on this plug in as the days go by.  You can see what others have to say about all the Topaz products and questions about the plug-ins at The Topaz Forum.

Compared to some of their other plug ins, this one runs a bit slower.  But I am a patient person as I am used to rendering fractals which can sometimes take over 2 hours.

Sometimes what I see in the panel isn't what I end up with on the photo.  
I try adding stars but the stars follow the highlights in the photo and you can't just randomly place the stars.
There is a work around that Topaz and others came up with.
You can force new stars to appear by painting in 1-pixel dots of a light color in Elements or Photoshop -- or whatever your editing program is... and then going into Star Effects.

Others have had better success than I have at this.
Here are some Before and After shots:
Before [Fractal]:
Very subtle isn't it?  Except for the flare.  This was done in two steps.  First I selected the preset 'Water Highlights I' and then applied it.  Second I selected the preset Sunflare I.  I used the erase tool to get rid of stars I did not want.  This is the result.

 I wanted to try another one with a second fractal creation.  This one I used 'Water Highlights II' and then toned it down, just enough to give me a slight highlight of the light parts of the fractal.

Last I used a photograph of water and ice.  I wanted just subtle highlight and nothing too garish.
I suppose I could have found a similar way to do this in Elements, but to tell you the truth, I'm not sure I would have thought about it before this plug in came around.

Is it worth it?  Well it depends on how creative you want to be, so far I am enjoying it and I've seen some wonderful images created with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Watching Mules and Mares

Herd Mentality.

I've written about it before.  
This morning revealed that a light snow had fallen overnight.  The 'girls' in the 'mare' pasture [which consists of 3 mares and 4 molly mules] began to line up for the morning sunlight that was peeking over the tree tops and dipping into the valley.
The girls kept jockeying for the 'best' position to get full sunlight.
A mare would move and push a mule.  The mule would comply and then try to push another mule.

Eventually they were all lined up along side the electric fence, dozing quietly until the Boss Mare came along and re-ordered the herd.  It was rather fun to watch this ordering around with a flick of a tail or a nod of the head.  Horses and mules do not need to speak.  The tell all with their body language.

Perhaps the most entertainment of the morning was what occurred in Badger's pen.  I had moved Opal in with Badger at the beginning of winter so that Badger would have company and I could continue working with Opal.
A few days ago, we put Fred, my husband's pony mule in with them.  Fred is an older mule who is 'catching impaired'.

Badger seemed to develop a certain interest in Opal that he didn't have before.  He spent most of the first day trying to keep Fred from getting near Opal.
This morning Opal was using Badger to stay away from Fred.  

These two, Fred and Opal have a love hate relationship.  When we've put them together before they always seem to fight.
Take one of them out of the paddock and the one left screams and cries.

This morning Badger was in the middle.  Fred would shake his head and try and nibble at Opal.  Opal would spin, buck, and turn and run behind Badger...who in turn would lay his ears back and look ugly at both Opal and Fred...not sure who to blame for the interruption to his sunning.

One thing for sure, the two elderly mules are keeping Badger in condition.  Lots of movement during certain parts of the day.
Although right now it seems as if all the equine are enjoying the bright sunshine.

Fred is napping, his nose stuck into the snow.  Badger is off sleeping by the water tank.  Opal is sunning herself by the gate.

In the 'girl' pasture everyone else is doing the same.  Each mare has a one or two mules standing with them.

All is peaceful.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Little Angel

Morris points out the way home
Morris has been around as my little buddy now for nearly 8 years.

He is a pleasant little fella who never lets me forget the time of day.
Breakfast feeding time.
Supper feeding time!

He constantly watches over me.  If I get up at night, he is there curious and wondering why I am up.
When I put on my gunbelt and grab a camera.
He is there.
Eager, bouncing, panting, jumping, and sometimes even yes...whining.

We have hiked together almost every day of his life.  In all kinds of weather.
At night if I sit on the couch and read, he snuggles up against my leg...one paw rests on my thigh along with his head.

He watches.
All the time.

I see that my little angel is getting grey faced.  The hikes are starting to take their toll on him just a wee bit more than they did years ago.
I need only to look around at my collection of photos of past 'best' friends' to remind myself to cherish each day with him.

He just came up and nudged my leg, letting me know that it is time for his supper.
I think I'll oblige.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review of Star Effects Plug In by Topaz!!!

Topaz Star Effects was launched January 26th. I received an email and immediately downloaded the free 30 day trail.

I thought I'd give it a spin.
I'm not a professional photographer, but I do enjoy playing around with photos I've taken.

First lets look at a photo pre-Star Effect.
[ I took this the day before Topaz came out with the plug in...I actually was trying to get a 'starred' effect and lens flare when I originally took this.]
I dropped into Topaz's new plug in and this is what I got.
Well that was pretty fun! But seriously, it was nothing I was going to write home about. The photo wasn't that great to begin with.

So I searched around and found a sunset that could use some extra help.
First I used Topaz Adjust 5 to give the photo a bit of pizazz.
Then I dropped it into Star Effects...
Here is a 'screenshot' of how it looks.

Now for a bit of fantasy fun.

I edited this photo in Topaz 5 to get an HDR look, I wanted to get this to look as though it would be a place that you could find Forest Faeries ...so this would be my base image.
...okay well just a bit more fun...
Pre - Topaz Star Effects:
After Star Effects:
You should realize that I am playing around and having fun.

If I wanted to add a Wood Faerie to the scene, it would fit nicely.

I could do this in Photoshop or in Elements with brushes, but the time would take me much longer than this did.

For the creative person, this powerful little plug in could be a great time saver.
For the serious photographer who 'never' edits his or her photos...well then, this wouldn't necessarily be for them.

But creativity abounds.

How about a Mandelbulb3D Fractal?
Pre-Starred Effects:

Who says that Topaz plugins can only be used on photos?

Get creative.
Check it out.

I think I may add this to my collection of Topaz Plug ins.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Walkin' the Dawg

This is mostly for my Grandkids.
This is to let them know that yes, they do NOT have an average cookie baking, sewing, ladylike, Grandma.

They have one who still likes to play in the woods.
Who thinks that walking the dog should include a slide down a steep creek bank in the snow on a deer trail.

Walking includes walking in the creek because she can and no adult is going to tell her that she might get wet.
[Waterproof Bogs really help!]
She can toss rocks and draw in the snow with her fingers.

She can look for cool rocks in the flowing water and call to her dog who goes everywhere with her...

She can...
feel like a kid.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chores in the Bitter Cold

First, dress warmly.
Yes my son will laugh. I wear the ugly hated green coveralls with rips in them...over that a ripped flannel insulated shirt.
The Elmer Fudd Hat.
Leather 'lined' gloves.
Bog Boots.

Most of the choring goes well.

For those who don't have heated tanks, I break out the ice and fill their buckets with water. I watch them drink and add some more.
This takes several trips slogging through the hard falling snow.

Lil' Richard takes a drink then pauses for me to take his photo.
The amount of snow on his back is a good indicator of how warm his coat is and how well it insulates him.
I check him over. He is not shivering, but is nodding off to sleep.

The snow literally 'pours' down on me while I water the donkeys' heated stock tank. The view to the meadow though is certainly worth ducking under the hotwire and taking a shot with my pocket camera.

It really is quite a beautiful snow fall...if you like snow!

I water the donkey stock tank, the 'Fred & Gang' stock tank, then drain the hoses after making sure that Thor, Bob, T-Bone, Chuck-Steak, and the Dexter girls are taken care of.
All take nice healthy drinks.

I'll be out before dark to water those who don't have heated tubs again. It is hard work, but the animals need water, even in -5 temps.

I pass the heifer named Valerie, she is dozing near a log. She reclines after I take her picture and begins to happily chew her cud.
Some might argue that they'd be happier in a barn. Outside is natural for them.
Oh Oh...Oh the horrible feeling it is to find that about 100 ft of the hoses that go to the large stock tank have frozen!

I say some explicit curse words and begin to work on getting water to the heated tank that waters 12 animals.

I spend the next hour swapping the donkey hoses and rolling up the frozen ones. I carefully drain the hoses I'd swiped from up the hill and replace them...draining them carefully ... twice for good measure.

The frozen hoses get taken apart and rolled up.
The are thawing in my tub.

Ever take a shower with 2 50 ft hoses in your tub?
It can be done.

Isn't winter grand?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Puttin' up with no account Puppies~ by Morris

SHE thinks they are cute.
Sure, they look so pretty, cute, and harmless.

They are annoying.
They eat all the time and have to go out ALL the time.
Then SHE thinks it is my job to take them and entertain them outside in the snow.

I obliged.
And tried to get 'em lost in the stickery ickery berry briers and thorny bushes.

I was doing a pretty good job at it too, until...
SHE hollered at me to come back.

The little stinkers followed.
The one named Thelma went and stuck her nose up a tree where a squirrel had gone.

Oh. Well you might have thought she was Einstein or something the way SHE acted when SHE told HIM!

So after we came in the house to warm up, I snuck over to their big sleeping crate and lifted my leg on it.
Yeah, I was pretty sneaky.
I left some Morris 'stink' right on it.

I'm sorta ashamed as it backfired.
SHE knows that the pups didn't do it.
And I got

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Life has gone to the Dogs

...and you know, I like it!

So my husband says to me that he is going to go 'look' at a puppy. A black and tan hound puppy.

So I volunteer to go along, after all what harm could I do?

Fall in love with those puppy faces and those puppy smells.
In particular just the whole being of puppy.

So as the sun is setting and we are getting to go, hubby holds the one he has picked out and has me holding another.
I admit, I do not want to put this puppy back in the kennel.

I sigh.

Then the gent says...*Hey, I can make a heck-ofa deal on two!*

Short story.
Two came home.

Meet Thelma and Louise.

How does Morris feel about this infringement upon his household?

Well he likes the baby gate that keeps them in the kitchen.
He is a bit put off, but did take them for a gallop up and down the driveway today.
He is handling as only a dignified as a Jack Russell could. He believes if he ignores them, they'll magically leave.

These two are a hoot.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mandelbulb 3D Fun with Rendering

Rendering your Mandebulb creation can be the hardest part of the whole process of creation.
You have to twiddle your thumbs and wait.
And be patient.

This is not one of my better qualities, so I will go fix a sandwich or eat supper if it is that time of day.
I drive my husband crazy by jumping up from the table and running to look at how my 'fractal' is coming out.
Like I said. Impatient.

This is the first thing you'll see when you hit the Render button. Don't let it scare you. The first time I saw it, I freaked.
I lost my picture?
No, as it renders the black disappears.
If you don't like what you see you can always hit the Stop button.
Which is located in the middle of the control panel in the main screen:

I'm not going to go over each of the buttons as there are some great tutorials on this already created by other real Mandelbulb 3D Artists!
Check out this Blog: Mandelbulb-Mandelbrot-fractals for beginners. The site has Tutorials on everything you need to start with. Check it out.

Here is a closer look at the parts of the 'rendering screen':
...and a part I love of this program...
a 'clock' if you will that tells you how long this rendering will take. However, it does not take into account for ambient shadows which may add a few more minutes to the render.
At this point I go back and check on my Mandelbulb creation:
It is looking good!
Here are what helps control the coloring and the shape of the Mandelbulb. Lighting is covered very nicely in several YouTube tutorials.
You should watch all of this fellows Tutorials, they are very helpful! Tutorial Part 1 - overview.

For more reading on lighting and different lights that are free to use, visit The Design Space Blog. She has great tutorials and some fantastic parameters to check out also.

Well let's go back and see what my Mandelbulb came out like!

This was based on the parameters by one of the Mandelbulb 3D wonderful artists named Hal Tenny. He also has Tutorials at devianArt for those interested in working with this program.

So what are you waiting for? Go to fractalforums.com and get your own Mandelbulb 3D program.
Have fun.
Take care of those winter blues!

Happy Rendering!