Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bouquet and Wedding Rings

Bride's Bouquet and Wedding Rings

One of the things the Groom’s mother most wanted was a photograph of the bride’s wedding and engagement rings. The Groom’s mom was soooo excited to know that someone good (that’s *moi*) was taking lots of photos; she recounted to me how she only ended up with 8 decent photos of her own wedding and she wanted more for her son and new daughter-in-law. I was happy to oblige.

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Filed under flowers, Photography, wedding

Morning Vs. Evening: The Changes To An Image

In my previous post about the Brazoria NWR, all of the photos  in that post were taken during the morning hours of 9:30AM and after.   The very next evening, the weather, sky, and clouds were perfect; I just had to return to the NWR for some evening images.  I used the same camera (Canon 5D Mk II) and the same two lenses (70-200mm and 16-35mm).  I tried to take photos of the same (or almost the same) locations as were taken during my morning shoot.  See what a difference the time of day, lighting, clouds, and weather can make to change the looks of the same image location.

Morning:

7638_Big Slough View REV

Evening:

7640_Evening on Big Slough

Morning:

7667_Reflections

Evening:

7666-2_Evening At Olney Pond

Morning:

7635_Big Slough View2

Evening:

7651_Evening On Big Slough

Morning:

7675_TX Wetland

Evening:

7689_TX Wetland Evening

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Photography, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Evening On The Boardwalk at Brazoria NWR

Evening On The Boardwalk At The Brazoria NWR Center

I had published a post of my morning at this place and figured that was pretty much it. But as the afternoon then early evening progressed, I saw the day was still sunny and dry, the skies clear, and the clouds were amazing. So I hopped in the car and arrived back at the refuge by 5PM and proceeded to spend a couple of hours there.

The neat thing about this place is that it’s a bit out of the way for the Houston metro area, so there were very few people there, both during the morning the day previous, and especially this evening the day after. I saw a couple bicycling down the gravel road, and one other birder couple out with their binocs. And that was it.

This image was captured back at the refuge center. I was essentially looking directly at the sun. I had a circular polarizer on my 16-35mm lens, and also used a 4×6 Lee 4-stop grad filter which I handheld in front of the lens (rather than use a square filter holder, which I don’t own, I just put the filter flush with the lens and move it up and down accordingly. Works for me.)

This is a view of Big Slough, looking toward the Big Slough Trail. *This* time, I remembered to use some bug wipes and I had absolutely no problem with the mosquitoes at all.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Photography, Wildlife Refuge

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Although I have a full plate of things to do around the home during the 2012 three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still tend to get a little stir crazy if I can’t go out and photograph something during my time off.

While I may bitch about living in southeast Texas (being a gal from the mountains, I’ll always be doing that), I readily admit that it’s rather nice to have two very interesting photographic ops right at my back door:  Brazos Bend State Park, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Right after visiting with my mother on Saturday morning, I grabbed my cameras, loaded them, tripod, and myself into the car, and drove the 20 miles south-southeast to check out the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Map

I’ve been there before, but that was back in 2007 (if I remember correctly).  At that time, the road to the refuge center was only paved for maybe 2 miles, and the remainder was all gravel.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that now, in 2012, the entire road to the refuge center is paved.

For the photos you see here, I used my Canon 5D Mark II cameras and my 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses.  I carried everything in my new Lowepro Fastpack 350, which, btw, is AWESOME!  I am going to Mesa Verde NP and Arches NP later this year, and wanted something that would carry a camera and long lens, as well as water, snacks, etc.  Ok, sorry, I went off on a tangent.  The 16-35 lens was attached to the tripod for landscape shots, and I hand held the 70-200 lens (with IS turned “on”) for the wildlife and more close-in images. I find I hand hold this lens more often as not, eschewing the tripod ring.  I was pleasantly surprised upon post processing that I really only had to do a very little editing for light/brightness and a teeny bit for sharpness details on some (but not all) of the photos.  The light was just right that day – very sunny but with some interesting clouds.  So I kept the ISO at 200 and the aperture around 7.1.  Oh, and I gotta tell ya, a long lens is a must-have for this area.  Unlike Brazos Bend State Park, there are not many places to comfortably get up close and personal to the birdlife, and there is slim-to-no parking alongside the one-lane gravel road past the refuge center.   My 70-200mm was ok, but what I really needed was a lens 400mm or more.  But….one makes do with what one has.

Next to the refuge center is a boardwalk across Big Slough (pronounced “slew”), leading to  a plowed path called Big Slough Trail.  I didn’t go very far down the path because:

1)  The mosquitoes were horrible (they must have been as large as egrets!) and I forgot to wear bug repellent (I was in too much of a hurry to leave the apartment and that is one of the things I forgot, although I did remember to apply sunscreen and grab a hat).

2) As  far as I can tell from my walk and the map, this trail doesn’t  lead down to the water’s edge, which is where you really want to be to get those bird shots.

So I did some landscape and flower photography along the boardwalk before heading out along the gravel-road auto tour.

Note:  the Texas wildflower book I own is total crap and didn’t list half of the flowers I photographed.  I ran some searches online and couldn’t come up with much either, so many of these flowers won’t have captions to them.  If you think you know what the un-captioned flowers are, do let me know.

Sea Oxeye

6983_Sea Oxeye

Tropical Sage

6992_Tropical Sage

Unknown seed pods.

6996_Seed Pods

Unknown yellow flower.  There were a number of “look-alikes” in my useless wildflower book, but none of them really fit this image.  So I don’t know what these flowers are called.

7067_Unknown Yellow Flower

Unknown little white flowers.

7099_Unknown White Flower

Unknown red flowers.

7115_Texas Flowers

7122_Unknown Red Flower

Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).

7151_Basketflower ORIG

7182_Basketflower Hiding

7204-2_Basketflower

Unknown white flowers.

7165_Unknown White Flower

Unknown little purple flower.

7191_Unknown Purple Flower

Big Slough views from the boardwalk.

7632-2_Big Slough View3

7635_Big Slough View2

7638_Big Slough View REV

Big Slew inhabitant

7000-2_Dragonfly CROP

7034-2_Dragonfly On Branch

7107_Dragonfly and Blue Ripples

Nope, I didn’t see any American alligators.  It was hot already and I’m pretty sure they wanted to stay in the water to remain cool, rather than sun themselves in the growing heat.

After my visit to the refuge center boardwalk area, I climbed back into the car (followed by hoards of mosquitoes) and started along the gravel road auto tour.  It’s basically one-way, although they don’t have arrows – instead they have signs with numbered stops (which means there is probably a tour guide within the center  that I should have gone in get).  It’s practically impossible for one car to pull over to allow a car from the opposite way to pass you….as I can attest….

7220_Path To My Car

7662_The Trail

Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.

7654_TX Coastal Marshland

7667_Reflections

7675_TX Wetland

Gull-billed tern taking flight.

7358_Gull Billed Tern in flight

Ibis in the water.

7419_Ibis In The Water

Red-wing blackbird.  You can’t  see its red markings in these photos but I did when it spread its wings out.

7421_Red WingBlackbird ORIG

7421-2_Red Wing Blackbird

Ahhhh…..Progress (??)

7352-2_Progress

If any of you are interested, I just published to my Blurb Bookstore a 150-page journal titled Texas Coastal Images.  Half of the journal is filled with totally awesome photos taken in such places as Brazos Bend State Park, Port Aransas, Padre Island, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and the other half is nothing but blank lined pages for writing/artwork.  It would make a great gift for yourself or someone who is a fan of coastal Texas landscapes, flowers, and wildlife (mainly birdlife).  Click on the book link on the left side of this blog and it will take you directly to that particular book in my bookstore.  You can preview the pages of this journal and see for yourself the Masterpiece that I have created.

Hey, it’s all about marketing! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, flowers, nature, Photography

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron…I think

Yellow Crown Night Heron (I think)

At least, it looks like the picture in my Sibley Guide To Birds. Got this photo at Brazos Bend State Park recently. I might try to get out there again this 2012 Memorial Day weekend. I really need to do other stuff….like clean the pig sty I call my home….but I guess when I get tired of cleaning, I can go photographing instead, right? Any excuse to get out of work 😉

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Filed under birds, Brazos Bend State Park, nature, Photography, wildlife

Erect Dayflower with Bokeh’d Coneflower

Erect Dayflower with Conflower in background

Yup, that’s its name: Erect Dayflower. If you like images of the Texas coastal area, then stay tuned for my next Blurb photo journal. Many of the photos you have seen on my WordPress site of Brazos Bend State Park, the Port Aransas area, and Padre Island, will be in this book, along with an equal number of blank, lined pages for one’s doodles, musings, artwork, and other writings. Stay tuned!

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American Lotus

Sounds like the title for some sort of novel, doesn’t it?  Actually, it’s the name for the aquatic flowering plant below.  I caught sight of this lone bloom while rambling around 40-Acre Lake at Brazos Bend State Park.  I didn’t go around the entire lake, so I don’t know if there were any other American Lotus plants there.  I only saw this one flower but lots of the lotus pads.

7349_American Lotus

7355_American Lotus

7392_American Lotus

7562_American Lotus Pads CROP

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, flowers, nature, Parks, Photography

Blue Face, Green “Hair”

Blue Face, Green "Hair"

I was walking around Creekfield Lake at Brazos Bend State Park, this past Saturday (5/19/12). I stopped at the viewing/fishing pier stretching out into the lake, and pointed my camera down toward the water just as this blue-faced turtle was surfacing. The green stuff on his shell gracefully waved like hair underwater. Just as quickly as this guy (or gal) surfaced, it dove back beneath the water and I was lucky enough to have captured this image before it disappeared.

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, nature, Parks, Photography, Texas

Dragonfly Season

6495_Intricate

When I was little and living in Montana, I remember a certain time of year when there were multitudes of dragonflies flitting through the clear, dry, sunshiny air, in metallic colors of red, blue, and green.  I called that time of year Dragonfly Season.

I visited Brazos Bend State Park the other day.  It was a lovely, sunny, non-humid day in southeast Texas, where egrets and herons populated the sky and dragonflies of all hues skimmed the air.

Must be Dragonfly Season.

6480_Beautiful Dragonfly

6577_Blue Dragonfly

6581_Big Blue

6513_Something Blue

6517_Blue Dragonfly

6646_I Spy Something Blue

6651_I Spy Something Blue

None of these photos were taken with a dedicated macro lens (I don’t own a macro lens).  For this day, I just took a single lens, the Canon 70-200 L USM II f2.8 attached to my Canon 5D Mark II body.  The nice thing about a full-frame camera is that you can really crop those babies and still get a nice image with decent resolution.

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, insects, nature, Parks, Photography

Inserting A Watermark Into Your SmugMug Galleries

94C1050_Stellar Blue

In my previous post, I showed you how to create a simple watermark.  In this post, I will show you how to insert it into your SmugMug photo galleries.

OK, you’ve created your watermark and saved it as a .png file using CS5’s Save for Web & Devices.  Now, log into your SmugMug account.

You must first upload your watermark .png file to that unlisted default gallery SmugMug automatically sets up for you when you first create an account.  It’s the gallery titled “My SmugMug Site Files (Do Not Delete)” and by default, only you can see this gallery (unless you wish others to see it).

Click Upload-To This Gallery

Your watermark file is now uploaded.  But you cannot use that particular image until you have designated it as a watermark.

So go to the last page of this gallery (because that is where your newly-uploaded watermark image will show up) and click on the thumbnail to bring it up.   From the menu above the image, click  Tools and from “This Photo”, select More and select Make Into Watermark.

Make Into Watermark

You will be taken to a screen wherein you may designate the position, opacity, and even rename it if you wish.  You also get to see a preview of how your watermark masterpiece will look on a photo.  Once you have finished with the tweaking, click Submit and no matter which of the 2 methods you use to insert a watermark, it will appear as you have designated here in this screen.

Tools-More-MakeIntoWatermark

Oh, and if you didn’t choose your opacity (how transparent you wish your watermark to be) in CS5  or image editor du jour, then you may do so in this screen (SmugMug calls it “Fade”).  Compare the watermark in the image below with the watermark in the image above.

Playing With Fade

Now you are finished and can exit this gallery and choose another  gallery.

There are two ways in which you may insert a watermark onto your gallery photos:

Method #1

Within your gallery, click Tools and then scroll down to highlight Gallery Settings.

Tools-GallerySettings

Scroll down to the Security & Privacy panel

In addition to working with the watermark, you can also set other security features highlighted below.

Security and Privacy

Save your new settings and you will be returned to your gallery.  Give it a minute or two, and then for each photo, you should see your watermark.  This method is actually faster than the method below, in terms of how quickly SmugMug applies the watermark to your images.  Probably because the method below allows you to be more selective in terms of which photos you wish to be watermarked, rather than a “blanket application” of the watermark to all of your photos, which is what Method #1 does.

To remove your watermarks, simply click “No” and that little watermark box will disappear as will your watermark on all of your photos in the gallery.

Method #2

Within your gallery, click Tools, scroll down to “Many Photos” ,select More, then select Watermarking

SmugmugGallery-Tools-Watermarking

You will be taken to a screen where you see every single photo you have uploaded to that particular gallery.

SelectAll

You may now choose which watermark you wish to use, and select all or just a few photos for watermarking.  Click Watermark and then wait.  You will see a little screen telling you that SmugMug is applying watermarks and to just be patient for a few minutes.

To remove your watermarks, follow the same steps, but select “Remove” and then click Watermark.

There you have it!  Simple, right?

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Filed under Lessons, Photography, SmugMug, Watermark