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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Secret Life of Flowers

Two flower photo posts in a row...it must be spring! I hope you don't mind while I indulge my spring fever by sharing more flower pictures with you. There's just something about springtime that makes me feel...well, flowery!

We've had strange weather here on the west coast of Canada lately. After a very mild winter, March has been unusually cold and we even got a couple of snowfalls. We've also had some incredible windstorms, one of which left us with a tree down over the hydro lines, dangling over our rooftop. All this crazy weather has been very confusing for the flowers, I'm sure. "Should we show our faces? Should we hide for a couple more weeks?" "I dunno, what do you think, Bud?"

The flower photos I want to share with you are a little bit different. I processed them using a Photoshop plug- in called Fractalius. Flower pictures processed with Fractalius remind me of that book, "The Secret Life of Plants"...it's as if you can see the flower's aura. You can really go overboard with this plug-in but I usually like a somewhat subtler effect. Here's a fractal of a Stargazer lily.


It takes some experimenting with your flower photos...not everything really "works" once it's been fractalized (if that's a word).

Here's an overhead shot of a rose and rosebud that I processed using Fractalius.


I liked the way this one turned out. I also used some other filters on this photograph to change the hues somewhat. In fact, I did so many things to this picture, I kind of got lost and couldn't even tell you exactly what I did!

I thought this fractal of daisies turned out interestingly. I like the daisies in the background, which have become kind of ethereal and look to me as if they're holding hands...or petals, that is.

Daisies Fractal

Next up is a datura, and then some daffodils...

Datura

Daffodils

My last flower fractal is a morning glory. I know that some people prefer their flowers "straight" and don't like any processing nonsense but unless you try a program like Fractalius, you'll never know how much fun you're missing! Experimentation can be very addictive...you can also take what might've been a so-so floral photo (or anything else, for that matter), and spice it up a bit.


Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I don't make anything from plugging this plug-in!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Flower Photos ~ Time for Some Spring Color!

Lately I've been in the mood to work on flower photos, mostly because we've had very stormy weather around here. In particular this past week we had some amazing wind storms and ended up with a good-sized tree coming down over the power lines that lead to our neighbour's house. The tree snapped through his phone line and was cradled by the power lines and a dogwood tree next to our house. Lucky us that it didn't crash through our roof! A man went up in a cherry picker to attach an enormous cable to the tree and it was airlifted up, up, and away. Just in time for the next big storm that was coming through!

We also got a light dusting of snow on the pot of daffodils that just started blooming by our place. So all this crazy weather put me in the mood to work on some flower pictures.

I like photographs of flowers straight out of the camera but I also enjoy adding floral designs or "textures" to my flower pictures.

Here's an example of a macro shot of some lilacs ~


Here's another version of the same picture after I added a damask swirl pattern in Photoshop and changed the hue and saturation slightly.

Lilacs Macro with Overlaid Swirl Pattern

Looks quite different, doesn't it? I really like that pattern and used it here with my picture of lavender flowers but this time I didn't change the hue as much...


Or maybe you like your flower photos a little more natural... In my next picture I left the lavender garden as it was, with some colorful orange flowers blurred in the background. By the way, this out-of-focus area is called "bokeh" in photography and is achieved by leaving your camera lens open to its widest aperture...by doing this, you get a pleasing blur which can be especially effective if the background is wet or lit by bright sunlight.


One of my favorite flowers is poppies. Last summer I had a job photographing somebody's garden and he had some lovely pink poppies. I added a light green background and overlaid a different floral damask pattern to this picture and came up with a softer version...


And what would springtime be without tulips? They're one of my favorite flowers to photograph. For my tulip picture I added the same damask pattern as above but also did some other adjustments in Photoshop, such as adding another texture and messing around with the saturation levels. I also added a vignette effect.

 White Tulips with Floral Damask Pattern Overlaid

I took this photo close to where the ferry docks at Horseshoe Bay (in West Vancouver, British Columbia), which is a very picturesque area in case you haven't been there. The flowers were conveniently placed in a planter a few feet above my head so that I could photograph them against the blue sky when I stood on the walkway beneath. How thoughtful of them that I didn't have to get into my usual lying-on-the-ground-in-public position to take a flower photograph! (I wonder how many times I've been asked, "What are you taking a picture of?" when assuming some of these strange contorted positions in public.)

For you purists out there, here's the same photo of white tulips au naturel, without the addition of any textures or patterns, and without any adjustments in Photoshop...


Which do you prefer?

Hopefully we'll be getting some decent weather soon and when we do, I'll do another post with flower pictures. It's cheered me up a lot just posting this!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Owls of Boundary Bay

After my first visit with the snowy owls of Boundary Bay, I went back to Delta, B.C. to visit with them again at the end of January. Now it's March and I hear they're still there along the beach by the dyke but I have no idea how long they'll stick around. Apparently there was something of a population explosion of snowy owls due to a good supply of lemmings last year so many breeding pairs ended up hatching as many as seven young ones (compared to only two hatchlings normally). This has driven mostly adolescent males to the south in search of better food supplies. Apparently this happens every six or seven years. By the way, the adolescent males and female snowy owls have the dark markings and mature snowies are more pure white.

I drove out to the provincial park early in the morning to visit with the owls and spent some time with this group that was perched on some driftwood.


I was amused by the owl in the background on the left...he kept his eyes on me most of the time. I decided to focus on the pair of owls on the left.


Eventually the owl in the back flew off, leaving his buddy to observe me casually with one eye while he roosted.

Snowy Owl

Snowy owls weren't the only owls that I saw during my visit to Boundary Bay. I was also treated to a short-eared owl's hunting session as it flew over the field along the dyke, gracefully dipping into the high grasses occasionally but never catching anything. It was my first-ever short-eared owl sighting.

Short-Eared Owl Hunting

The owl was a fair distance away so I've cropped this picture down considerably. I love the way he matches the golden tones of the field in the early morning sun.

The owl didn't manage to catch anything while I was watching though. He didn't have a chance...a pesky crow came along and chased him off. The two of them flew off into the distance.


Crow Chasing Owl

I've seen crows (usually gangs of them) chase off hawks many times but this was my first time seeing a crow pursuing an owl.
snowy owls art
owls art