Monday, October 30, 2017

Friends Forever

So today I was cleaning out Morris's toy box. No worries, he seems to be doing just fine. I picked up Hoppy the Hedgehog, Terrible Tiger, and Crazy Tiger. I tossed the old pull toys but sat on the floor staring at Morris's characters that had been the subject of so many fun stories.

Morris pretty much ignores his toys now. Sleep is a big thing. Sleep and walking to the bus stop are his priorities. Well. Food.
He doesn't play even if I toss the toys for him.
I couldn't bring myself to toss the characters out. However they do need a good wash and a few repairs.

And then I began to think. One more storybook? One more adventure?
What would it be about?

How could I work Morris's aging into it? How would the story evolve?

Friends Forever.
I held the smelly toys and stared at Morris who gazed sleepily back at me.
I felt a welling up of emotions from deep within.

I may have hit upon my next project.

Fun with Topaz Studio

I'm not a huge fan of one particular photo program over another. I did try Lightroom and used the Free Trial for a few days. I didn't like how the program tried to force me into 'cataloging' my photos. I simply date my shots with a date taken and where/or what it was about.
I wish I could afford the Lightroom editing program, there are some nice features I could use for some of my more experimental shots such as star shots. However I don't see my self going into astro-photography.

I switched to Corel a few years ago and downloaded Photoshop C2 which was free at the time. I have used Topaz products and plugins ever since they came out.
Topaz offers 'Topaz Studio' in a free version. It works pretty darned well and has lots of tempting effects.

Below is the original shot. I did use RAW or the Nikon version of it called NEF.

With Topaz Adjust I was able to get this. I actually used a Toned shot setting called Vintage.
Now the shot was not perfectly in focus and I would have tossed it. In fact I probably will toss it as it really is nothing spectacular.

However this gives the view a better view of what I 'thought' I imagined when I took the photo. A quiet beautiful man made lake. It was built to prevent further devastation and flash flooding along the Bad Axe River around the year 1960.
You can see the dam in this shot.


Edited version with Topaz Studio. I used a Toned Sepia color here to bring out the fall colors and added some contrast. I had hoped in this shot to catch the mist rising off the water, but everything washed out in the original.

And then just because I had Topaz Studio open, I thought I'd visit Van Gogh and see how he'd see this shot. 'Van Gogh' setting:

That was pretty fun. As an experiment is worked nicely.

I used an HDR edit on the shot above to bring out the shadows.

My favorite shot of the morning was this reflection shot. The mist is nearly impossible to see, and the original shot had so much grey in it.


I used Topaz Adjust to bring out the colors and the trees I had to use a method similar to HDR processing.

And since I just wanted to fool around with it, I went into 'Trending' in Topaz Studio and found this effect:

I think it was an Orton glow effect.

Fun, but then again not something I'd print.

In truth, I don't think I picked the best time of day to come to Sidie Hollow to take photos. Sure it was right at sunrise, but the sun ... well, it doesn't peek into valley until at least an hour after the sun comes up.

I came away with a few shots I like, but I had to do some processing.

I'm not sure I'll purchase the full version of Studio. But I'll keep experimenting.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

So, How is Morris?

I am happy to report that Mr. Morris has gained weight on his *new* diet of Kidney Food. He has regained strength and tail wagging strength.

He is bouncy and happy when anyone comes by to visit or we walk to the bus stop to get the kids.

He needs to be kept on a line of some sort while walking. It seems we go so far and he just turns around and heads home if we are near home. At a county park last week he turned and walked back the way we came.

Our 'free' hiking in the woods is no longer a thing we do. I used to take off a bit each day with Morris and check out certain areas. I choose a walk along the road or a well defined trail now so we can still make jaunts.

His mouth has a bad tooth and the vet had said it should be removed, however she didn't think he was healthy enough nor was his blood work good enough. She also explained that it was terribly expensive. The cost would nearly be what I pay in property taxes so I don't think that is going to happen.

I'll take him to the vet to weigh him tomorrow or Monday. But his improvement has been excellent.

It is hard knowing that at some point the other shoe will drop... so to speak. But for now, he is happy and wagging. I'll take it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Brown Season is Here!

Even though the brown season is here, there are some things that are still colorful.

Sunrises and sunsets seem to be somewhat spectacular this time of year.

The October sunsets are visible without moving from my porch so this time of year all I have to do is step outside for a moment to enjoy the spectacular show that mother nature puts on for us.

Most of the fall leaves have come down except in areas that are protected from the wind or the oak trees.

Yesterday, the skies were spectacular for accenting the colors left before winter. The greens were brilliant. The colors alive!

A front moved in as we walked to the 'bus stop' to get the kids.

On our way back from the bus stop it began to drizzle. So we cut through the fields.

Of course I'd brought a plastic bag to wrap the camera up in.

Our adventure was fun, we were damp when we all got home and the rain stopped. OF course!

Today the temperatures aren't going to get above 40 something and the winds are going to howl.
Looks like a good day to do indoor things.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sidie Hollow in the Morning

I went to OT [Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy] Friday morning and had an hour and a half to kill before my hair cut appointment. I was way over due for a hair trim!

I followed the foot path from the boat landing and walked out to the floating fishing dock.
I was pretty happy to see the morning mists rising off the water.

I didn't have much time to really explore. But for the 45 minutes I was there, I did find some beautiful things to try out the Tamron lens.

At full zoom it was a bit soft in the low light, but I was able to catch some almost decent shots of some Canada Geese taking off in the shadows across the small bay.

It was a beautiful 45 minutes and I'd really wished I'd had the day to explore.

Now it is the Brown Season. But I think I will see if will challenge myself and see what interesting things I can find.


Harvest is in full swing again after a few dry days. Of course that all changed over night when another round of rain swung through the area.

Most of the soybeans in the area around where I live are harvested. Some of the larger Big Farms may not be all in.
There is still a lot of corn standing. Some of it still looks green, some fields are brown/golden and ready to be harvested.
Since we had such a strange spring the planting was delayed in areas and in other areas everything went as ... I hesitate to say smoothly as nothing in farming goes exactly smoothly.

Mules. They are all happy! Siera and I were out the other day, I took time to saddle her and ride her to go and check fences. I could have easily walked, but felt like it. 15's education is at a stand still as is Sundance's. I need to work with both of them but it always seems that something else grabs my attention.

Morris. He is doing rather well. When he isn't sleeping he is more like his normal old self. He likes to nag. He wants out, he wants his new food [he loves that nasty smelling stuff!] and he still enjoys his daily walks on a leash. He won't hike with me anymore but that is fine. He still seems to get confused once in a while but that is okay too.
He gets playful once in a while and will 'zoom' around the house, being his goofy old self for a bit.
He has to get up more at night to go out and do his business, and lately has been waking me up at 4AM to go out and feed him. Well. I am making adjustments. After all, he is the aged dog.

Rich. He is back to driving locally. He went last week to an auction by himself. It was a tiring day but he came back with a Pony Tiller for the garden. I imagine it needs some work, but he says it runs. Yesterday was his first solo trip to get small bales of hay from our Hay Man.

The Dexter Cattle. We have had the ones we are keeping separated for all summer now. Our Bull is scheduled to go to processing in January. I think we'll have plenty of beef from him. Rich has put off sending the others to auction. He needs to make some decisions quickly. Deer Gun Season is only 4 weeks away and if winter settles in, hauling the cattle out of here will be too tricky on our hilly driveway.

Fall Color. Wow.
I think this week was the last of it. Within days we went from glorious brilliant colors to the Brown Season.
Next week they are predicting our first frost. Usually we have a frost by the first weekend of October.

It is time to turn inward to the household things. Painting the kitchen, organizing and building shelves in the basement, and putting away the warm weather clothes and digging out the coveralls and long johns.

It will be a challenge to keep finding interesting things to photograph in the 'Brown Season'. I actually look forward to some hikes in the woods where I will be able to see now that the undergrowth is dying off.

That wraps it up.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I lied. The lens isn't awful.

Sunrise, shot in "Sunrise" mode in Camera
and cropped

I just need to learn how to operate it. I purchased a Tamron 18-200mm last year for my Nikon camera. I thought the 18mm to 200mm would be the ticket. I could get wide shots and zoom-er-in shots.

I got it in November and made my first mistake with it. I tried shooting indoors at full zoom and doing long exposures.
MISTAKE! Whoops! Nothing came out like I wanted it too. I was so disgusted I simply put the lens back in the box and thought about returning it. The lens was heavy, the tripod wouldn't hold the camera still long enough. There were some other minor issues too but these were all in very low light.

I put the lens away. I did take it out to see how it would preform in the daylight and if it was useful for portraits.
It was.

However, it does seem to shine in other ways too.

Zoom into the meadow by the Owl Trees.

Another zoom to 200mm for catching the curve of the gravel road and the oaks in the sunlight.

Maidenhair ferns. Used the lens to try and do a 'sort of' macro. Nice bokeh and it worked well.

I had to go to the township recycle place and took a slight detour to see if the pair of eagles had come back.
They had. One stayed on the trees and one flew off.

Another fast zoom. Kids walking with Morris.

And then a shot of the neighbor farmer cutting his hayfield and his round bales. Our area is rolling and hilly. There is a telephone or electric line running midway through the photo which is distorted because of the focal length.

How the lens do at 18mm?

Well I took this sunrise this morning.
Cropped to take out the foreground.

And last shot. Kid silhoutte at the bus stop with the predawn colors behind them.

I think the lens does well. I just need to leave it on my camera and keep using it so I can learn to make it perform well for me.

Every lens has its 'sweet' spot especially those lenses which are not prime.
I'd love to own a professional 70-200mm Nikon pro lens. However the average price is about $2,100. I think this one will serve me well and I sure did not pay a huge price for it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

After the Rains and a Micro Lens

I have a Nikkor 40mm Micro/Macro lens. I had put it aside for a while and decided to just shoot with the nifty 50 and the 85mm prime lenses. Now I don't have the pro lenses, but these nice primes are my go to lenses.
I tried shooting again with the 18-55mm lens but I just wasn't happy with the clarity compared to the primes.

With these fixed lenses, you can't just zoom in or out to 'get that shot'. You have to move your feet. I've found that I enjoy the challenge and now have a hard time going back to any other type of lens. I do however lust after a nice zoom.  I bought the Tamron 18-200mm last year thinking I had the bomb. Nope cheap lens, ... it does the trick in bright light but should only be used in mid range. And it is heavy. --- Edit on 10 17 17...eeks gads I took it out today and was able to make the Tamron work very well! ... Samples later!]

All right, with all of that garbeldy gook out of the way. What did I do? I put the 40mm on my Nikon and packed up my little old backpack and decided to go enjoy the fall colors. I planned on just hiking the 'bowl' up to the pine trees. This means a bit of brush busting through some deer trails.

Now as the name of the lens implies, it is great for close up work. And yes, you have to get 'close' up. Not so great when or if you are trying to shoot a bee for example.
However, it is great for the following.

Water droplets, leaves, and fungi. All such tiny things. I did have to kneel on the ground for the maidenhair fern. I had to get down close to the maple leaf and I got close and personal for the coral fungi. [That was a pure bonus!]

I kept walking down the trail wondering if I was going to regret this self challenge.

The woods were so incredibly beautiful. The colors were popping in the subtle light. The skies were overcast and letting in just enough diffused light to make the yellow leaves appear to glow.

I decided to explore this stump on the trail. Wow, I am glad I did.

I got a few of these droplets. All shots were hand held. I did get damp from kneeling and scrunching down in the leaves or leaning against the stump itself.

The light kept changing as there were breaks in the clouds once in a while.
I kept walking.

I cursed myself for not having a 'landscape' lens and then thought. Well, here is the challenge.
Go for it.

And I did.

Did I do okay? I think so. Did I satisfy my challenge? Yes I believe so.

It was a beautiful day to challenge myself. No tripod, nothing extra. Just a backpack with extra water and a pair of gloves.

I ended the hike at the soybean field at the top of the 'bowl'. I thought I'd try a hand held panoramic shot of the trees below me. The lone red tree was blazing away.

Yes, this worked! I can say with confidence that I can get landscape and micro/macro out of the same lens with nothing fancy.
Color me happy.
Color me satisfied.

Oh. And for the rest of the week the sun will shine brightly so I look forward to some fall adventures with Morris on some well groomed trails as well as a visit to the winter ice cave.
Fall is glorious.

Hopefully you can go out and enjoy it.