What luck to have such an awesome sunrise on your very first day of shooting.
On a fall November day in 2001, I went out to Stony Creek Metro Park with my newly bought used Nikon N80 camera loaded with Fuji Velvia and Tokina 28-80 lens.
It had to be the very first time I pressed the shutter as the sun hadn’t come up above the horizon yet, so I couldn’t have shot anything before this.
I had no Idea what I was doing with the camera. I just saw this cool sunrise, and the bare tree and set up my tripod and shot. It was on a Saturday and a storm was coming in from the west over top of me and the sky was glowing.
You can see the leading edge of the storm where the yellow band is. I don’t remember anything about the rest of the day, if the storm let loose and I got drenched or not.

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Leaves On The Trail

Posted: August 30, 2015 in Uncategorized
I went out to one of my local parks to shoot and was heading into the park on a trail that is made up of wood chips. If you have been following me for a while you know I like to shoot a lot of leaf images. I found lots of cottonwood leaves on this trail and the night before we had a heavy rain and the water shifted some of the wood chips over the leaves.  I thought it made the leaves a little more interesting with the wood chips scattered over them. The wood chips also made a nice consistent textured background for the leaves.

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Here’s one that was lying in a puddle of water.

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Sometimes you find nice subjects to shoot in the simplest places.

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Photoshop Zoom Blur

Posted: August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized
I was shooting at the San Diego Botanical Gardens when I saw this flower and I thought it was a good subject for using the Zoom Blur filter in Photoshop.
Here is the original image, I started with some clean up with the specs of debris, and filled in the gaps between the petals showing any background, and did a slight crop.

After doing the clean up in Photoshop Elements, I then clicked on “Filters”.
In the next box place your cursor on “Blur”, and then click on “Radial Blur”.
In the next box look for “Zoom” and click the circle next to it.
Use the Amount slider to add or subtract the amount of the Zoom you want, and this is what I came up with.

After I got the zoom the way I wanted it, I went into Nik Softwares Viveza, and did some tweaking with the structure slider to bring out the details in the petals, and darkened and added structure in the dark center. Then popped the yellow a little more.
This effect works best with the flowers center placed in the middle of the frame like you see in these two images.
Here is another example.

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Where Do The Skunk Cabbage Go

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
When I started out in photography and searching the swampy wooded areas near my home, I found this great plant called a Skunk Cabbage. That’s a perfect name for this plant because if you rub the leaves with your fingers, the smell left on your fingers will remind you of a skunk, not good.
I’ve found that the large leaves have great deep veined patterns that make for really nice backgrounds and also good as abstracts.
The plants totally engulfs a swampy area in the woods, so much that when the leaves are fully grown you can no longer see the ground beneath them. This was shot in early spring so they are not quite fully grown yet.

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I mentioned they make great abstracts, and when you backlight one of the leaves with the sun, this is what you get. Look how the veins pop.

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I also mentioned that the leaves make great backgrounds for other subjects, and I have used them many times for that purpose. This is one of my favorites using the Skunk Cabbage for a background.

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One year in the late fall I was walking through an area that earlier had thousand of Skunk Cabbage plants, and I was surprised that the ground was not clutter in the large leaves of the Skunk Cabbage. We see leaves from trees lying all over the ground but no evidences that the Skunk Cabbage were ever there. I was quite puzzled by this, so did a little research online and found that these large leaves actually melt or disintegrate away, and leave absolutely no trace. What a cool plant. Here we are in mid August and the leaves are starting to die off.

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Here are a few of the leaves that are slowly melting away to nothing. If you live near wooded swampy areas, see if you can find the Skunk Cabbage plants.

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Setting Up The Shot

Posted: August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized
Caught In Birch114
When:
Fall
Where:
Wooded Area,
Michigan
How:
I really like shooting the bark of birch trees. It has a lot of character with all the textures and lines. The interesting bark makes for a great background to show off this richly colored fall maple leaf. This is as simple as just finding a nice part of the trunk, and hanging a leaf in the curls of the bark. I placed the main part of the leaf in the upper thirds of the frame and positioned the stem on a diagonal to give it a less composed and more natural look. I shoot these with an aperture of f/32 for maximum depth of field. Be creative and look for other subjects to place in the bark.

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Dear Mke,

We’ve got news for you! On Tuesday, August 25th we’ll be releasing Topaz ReMask 5, an updated version of our masking software, complete with new features. As always, our update is free to anyone who already owns ReMask. And for those who don’t own it, ReMask 5 will be on sale ($20 off) from August 25th – September 18th. Please share the coupon code “GetReMask5” with your followers so they can take advantage of the discounted price of $49.99 (regularly $69.99).

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ReMask is designed on one simple idea: To create the best quality mask with minimal input. By using ReMask’s simple 3-color tri-map technology, users have the power to quickly and easily extract even the toughest elements — hair, foliage, and transparent materials — in their photos. The new updates to ReMask 5 make it the most powerful masking software on the market. The two biggest additions are standalone capabilities and background replacement tools.

ReMask 5 works as a standalone program now, in addition to being a plugin. This means no host program is required and Lightroom integration is available. ReMask 5 also allows you to replace and edit the background of your masked image without leaving the program. Choose from transparent, solid color, or image backgrounds.