>Day 050 – 02192011


Most of the fruit trees in the rose family (such as almonds, peaches, and cherries) have already begun to blossom around these parts.

This morning, taking advantage of the break in the foul weather we’ve been having, we ventured outside and paid a short visit to the Burbank Gardens. There, I captured this beautiful nectarine blossom covered in fresh raindrops.

Something I learned today: contrary to popular belief, the nectarine is NOT a crossover between a peach and a plum. Nectarines have the exact same genome as peaches (Prunus persica) however, it is the presence of a recessive gene that creates the lack of fuzz in nectarines.

I used NIK Viveza 2 to enhance the center of the main flower. Everything else (sharpening, contrast, white balance) was handled inside Adobe Camera Raw.

Technical data: f/4.0 at 1/125th sec, ISO 100.


>Day 049 – 02182011


It has been raining quite hard around these parts of Northern California and the temperatures have dipped into the high 20s. Some areas have seen some snow falling, mostly on the hills and other high peaks.

Here we have a dandelion seed head partially void of its seeds. It’s amazing the amount of detail that can be captured with a prime macro lens, which has become my favorite lens.

Technical data: f/11.0 at 1/60th sec, ISO 400.

>Day 047 – 02162011


I have just finished reading an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine about Montana, known as the Big Sky State, and it inspired me to process one of my photos in HDR and then convert it to black & white. The photo above showing the coastal hills and storm clouds is what I came up with.

I created the HDR file using a single color raw file. Using Adobe Camera Raw, I created seven separate images, each of which had an exposure change of 1/2-stop and subsequently each saved as a TIFF.

All seven TIFF copies were combined in Photomatix Pro to create the HDR color file, which I saved as a 16-bit TIFF.

Finally, I opened this file in NIK Silver Efex Pro to convert it to a black & white image using the High Structure preset and adding a yellow filter to darken the blue sky (the red filter proved to be too dark).

Technical data: f/6.3 at 1/500th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 046 – 02152011


I have seen this type of shot used around Valentine’s Day and also used by many wedding photographers, although they usually use a different book instead of the one I picked, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Yeah, the incongruousness of it didn’t escape me…

After I took the series of shots I noticed that the flashlight I used to light up the subject created a heart-shaped spot light in this particular shot.

In Adobe Camera Raw I increased the color temperature to warm up the scene just a tad and I added a 30% vignetting. I increased the sharpening in Photoshop CS5 using an additional layer and the High Pass filter.

Technical data: f/11.0 at 1/5th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 045 – 02142011


Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who celebrates a day like today! Mother Nature has given us (in Northern California) the gift of rain on this beautiful Monday.

This male great blue heron (Ardea herodias) stopped by to check the land and wasn’t very thrilled that we wanted to take his picture. He promptly flew away as I got closer. His mate, on the other hand, actually stayed and roamed around the area on foot for a while.

Technical data: f/5.0 at 1/500th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 043 – 02122011


This seagull graciously stayed in the same spot long enough for me to get close and take its picture while I changed the position of the polarizer filter on my lens. This filter helped me to get a deeper blue in the sky, as well as to eliminate glare and unwanted shine from the bird’s feathers and beak.

Contrast and color adjustments, as well as sharpening, were performed in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Technical data: 1/2000th sec at f/5.6, ISO 100.

>Day 042 – 02112011


The weather is still sunny and nice enough to visit the great outdoors in this part of the world.

Our weekly pilgrimage to Bodega Bay, California, yielded the image above. I took a series of 25 photos showing this snowy egret (Egretta thula) feeding on crabs it had found at the banks of Doran Creek. Eventually I might post the rest of photos in the series in my Flickr page.

Once again, my trusted Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM zoom lens came through with flying colors.

Technical data: f/5.6, 1/800th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 041 – 02102011


It is quite a beautiful sight to watch a great white heron (Ardea alba) take flight. Their grace and beauty is unmatched.

I watched this bird on the Santa Rosa Creek where another fellow photographer was attempting to get closer to it. At first I thought this bird to be a very large snowy egret (Egretta thula), however he pointed out to me the differences between the two species:
1) black feet, yellow beak = great white heron
2) yellow feet, black beak = snowy egret
Upon returning home I verified this information online and it appears to be correct.

…amazing what we can learn from strangers…

Technical data: f/5.6, 1/640th sec, ISO 100.