Nesting Osprey, Monochrome

So I have to apologize, this one’s slightly fuzzy but in my defense, two things:

  1. Equipment is an offbrand Tamron lens that I’m starting to discover has a number of minor flaws, no image stabilization/vibration reduction among them (kinda important for animals who don’t hold still)
  2. I have yet to learn the first thing about wildlife photography, and I’m really not used to shooting at max focal length (300mm in this case)

Basically I don’t know what I’m doing and my equipment is subpar (my other lenses are nice Nikon ones, as it turns out). In light of that I’m considering saving up for a better long lens and I’ll be picking up a book on wildlife photography to try and figure out how to actually use my camera properly for this sort of thing.

I took 31 shots of this nesting pair of ospreys today and this was one of the only clear(ish) shots with the osprey totally in the frame so this was kinda a beginner’s luck type of deal for me.

This nest was just off the road so I was standing almost right under it. Both of them were in the nest at various points and grabbing sticks to assemble it; in this shot this one had just landed with a stick, and the other was flying off fetching another one.

In defense of the Tamron lens to be honest nearly all of my excellent zoom and macro photography of flowers (like the orchids), and other closeups, etc., have been shot with it but I’ve noticed some really minor issues, the main one being the lack of image stabilization (which y’know it wasn’t exactly advertised as having). I have gotten a ton of awesome shots with the lens and it was and is still worth more than I paid for it.

Elf Home, Faery Forest, Ginter Botanical Gardens (Photo Edit)

This one needs a little explaining.

Hidden off the main (paved) paths at Ginter Botanical Gardens is a Faery Forest Trail section populated with countless elf homes like this one (which is put through some filters). I had the camera set up with my long lens for flower shots so I only took a few shots rapidly (covid rules give you two hours to wander the gardens so I had to rush through everything to an extent) and this one was the only one that came out clearly.

There were all kinds of neat oddities to be found there, however. I’m not sure if it was a new section or not but it was a nice, strange realm to enter briefly. It was a bit surreal to be honest.

Possibly Relocating the Site

In sorta bad news for those who subscribe, I’m almost certainly relocating this site to https://adamshurte.blog just for sake of having a more professional sounding URL that matches up with my portfolio site (https://adamshurte.com).

I have paid for renewal of all three of these sites for this year (adamshurte.com, adamshurte.blog, rusticoutcast.blog) and basically what I may wind up doing is having a weird hobbyist/writing site at this URL or something else altogether. That or I’ll not renew next year and let it bite the dust.

What that means if you subscribed is that I’m going to delete all subscriptions to this URL and will, when appropriate, post the new site at adamshurte.blog (which you can subscribe to if you want to). That way when the if/when content here shifts to something else you won’t get emailed, and you can debate whether or not you want to subscribe to the new one. They’re both hosted on wordpress servers so it’s up to you if you want to do that.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to do that, I’ll probably be sporadically posting new images and eventually I’ll go ahead and transfer things over. I’ll also leave a “sticky note” relocation notice at the top of the page for a month or so afterwards.

Witching Wood Shot in Four Steps

So rather than like write creepy Lovecraftian horror scenarios after Photoshopping pet dogs into Eldritch horrors, I have decided to share a gallery that shows one of the Witching Wood shots as it progressed through various filters. Sorry about the creepy post, by the way, I just felt the need to write about extradimensional horror after posting a mutt invoking Cthulhu for some reason. School’s getting to me I think. On to today’s image now in it’s four incarnations.

This is the original exposure, not run through Camera RAW; I shot it years ago with a Nikon D50 before I even knew what the aperture was (it’s a nice composition but for years that was the only thing I knew how to do effectively, I can kinda use a camera’s technical capacities and almost know what I’m doing these days).

This is that original negative after being run through Camera RAW, sort of the underpainting; I made the colors, etc., a little more vivid than true to life in terms of touch-up work because I knew I’d be running it through Nik Collection filters next and I wasn’t going for a true to life shot here. Step two, basically.

This is step 3, or after using Analog Efex to create antique camera filters (I usually like playing with the wet plate one but there’s an array of old camera types and filters you can use and adjust with it). It’s a little darker and more earth-toned, with a blurred and darkened vignette around the edges now. There’s one more step after this, which is also a Nik Collection filter set.

This is the final shot; blurred, darkened, with glowing and light effects, a little muddier yet and moodier. It lacks the jagged edges and sharp/harsh lighting of the previous one, and hopefully that gave it a creepier effect overall. It’s been run through several filters in the Color Efex set.

Overall I have to admit even the basic (totally automated and done by the camera’s computer with the only manual adjustment being the flash disabled- yes, I shot that with a 6 megapixel camera in auto mode and probably used autofocus too- things I don’t do anymore really) exposure unedited is a pretty nice shot of the river and rock face at Natural Bridge VA. And I think all of these stages could stand alone on their own pretty well, even if the initial touch-up is a little too untrue to life for my tastes. But this is basically a very abridged before and after set of shots. I’ll post a slideshow below so you can click/tap and scroll through them in order in the carousel view, then ramble a bit more.

But basically that’s a shot that I honestly overlooked and found while scrolling through my archive, before deciding it had a good set of compositional elements for turning into a kinda moody-gothy-witchy type of photo edit. Basically in Photoshop you get stuck with a set of sliders for these to globally (or if you’re more savvy than I usually am, locally) edit an image; the Witching Wood set’s been made using basically just global applications of the filters and a lot of tweaking things ranging from shadows and highlights to vignette size and shape, degree of blur, type of soft focus, and so on.

What you don’t see here is the time spent tailoring and selecting the filters and all the individual sliders that get adjusted from Camera RAW on through the two Nik Collection filters laid overtop each other; I’m not sure I’m willing to make a video of myself doing one of these in that much detail but I will admit I’ve gotten to where after I’ve come up with some sort of basic recipe I can get one done in a matter of minutes. Mostly that’s from years of playing and experimenting with the program and self-teaching myself uhhh…everything I know about it, to be honest. I do find the process a lot more fun than sometimes even shooting actual photographs for some reason, and I generally speaking run through each image individually and manually from start to beginning even if I’m using the same filter set to get the lighting and everything else where I want it (you can actually save “recipes” and just wash, rinse, and repeat in Photoshop and Lightroom I think, and while I’m using the same filters more or less for a themed gallery, I do tailor each filter’s numerous sliders individually- it kinda feels like I’m cheating if I don’t, and I’m able to make each image shine a lot more this way even if it takes a lot longer than a shortcut would take).

I am tempted to do some tutorials at some point but that really is dependent on me getting my butt off the computer and into the medical coding textbook that’s trying to make me legitimately lose my mind here. Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff done over the weekend. Anyway, just thought it’d be neat to share the editing process at least in part for one of the shots.