Oh, Canada

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You may have read my earlier posts here and here .  If so, you’ll know we just got back from a fabulous trip to Nova Scotia.  We enjoyed the seafood, the scenery, and the water.  We saw puffins, eagles, seal, grouse, pheasant, porcupine, deer, and caribou.

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It’s so awesome just to watch nature in it’s climates and storms, it’s moods and sweeps…. we just love it.  We can spend time just watching it’s many facets, meeting people, and taking it all in.  Oh my, how we have evolved.

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Becoming a photographer teaches one many things.  Not the least of which is juxtaposition, simplification, patterns and light.  It’s a joy to see something, capture it and make a seemingly ordinary commonplace item something extraordinary.  Not that a large lobster boat cast onshore is anything ordinary!

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There is something about being on the coast.  It produces such moods and emotion.  It giveth and it take away; the sea can be peaceful or unforgiving.  Many lives are lost on the seas, caught in it’s moods.  We saw a great testament and monument to that in Lunenburg where marble pillars list the names of the lost.  It gives one pause.

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Yet, on it’s good days the sea is inviting in it’s beauty and allure… a peaceful serene place. It’s no wonder we crave it and constantly go back for more.

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In Lunenburg we enjoyed fabulous Adams & Knickles scallops, the seaside village, and surrounding Blue Rocks.

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The evening light on Lunenburg was spectacular, but it does take a long zoom and tripod to get the shot, as it isn’t up close and personal… it’s across the way at the golf course.

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When we were there the flowers were blooming and the birds chirping, storms were brewing, and sun was still hesitant to shine through.  Yet the water was flowing and the animals active.  It was a quiet and fun time to be there.

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Focus Stack

Have you heard of Focus Stack.  My guess this isn’t the first time… or the last you’ll hear of it.  I have heard a lot about it… and have a lot to learn, but it is all the rage in photography.  It’s a method employed by professionals and amateurs alike.  It’s what wins contests today.  Forget about setting your camera on a small aperture, f22 and getting everything from foreground to background in focus.  Today, that method is passé, and yields softness or blurry portions in the photograph, dependent on where you focus.

There are a number of free Focus Stack softwares out there that will automatically analyze a series of photos and merge them together such that everything is tack sharp.  You take several photos, one focussing on foreground, one focussing on middle ground, and one on background… select them all and the software does the rest.  It’s magic… truly!

So I thought I’d give it a go using just Photoshop (without the Focus Stack software…. no doubt that will be a later experiment).   Matt Kloskowski demo’s this method in his terrific new Mt. Rainer landscape class            (http://www.mattk.com/my-new-mt-rainier-landscape-photography-class-is-live/).

So I pulled out a couple Barlett lake pix out of my archives.

The first has the cactus in focus, but the foreground flowers are out of focus.. (and mostly absent).

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The second photo has the cactus blurred, but the flowers are more prevalent and in focus:

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Using Photoshop I open both pix in one file creating 2 layers.  I then select both and Edit-Auto Align Layers to make sure both layers are directly on top of on another.  I then add a mask to the second photo (with blurred cactus and sharp flowers) and Command-I (inverse) to blacken out the whole photo.  Then using white, and the brush tool, I paint the sharp flowers (second photo – mask selected).  What happens is I paint the sharp plentiful flowers through to the 1st layer, painting over the blurred flowers of the first photo.

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I must admit, I’ve not done a lot of this sort of composite work in Photoshop… but seeing how powerful it is, I know why it is so popular.  Amazing!

Desert Flowers

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Spring is coming.  It’s still a bit chilly in our neck of the woods, but we took a trip down to Phoenix, and the flowers are all a bloom.

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We had hoped to see the fields of poppies, but the poppies were rather scarce.  I’m not sure whether we were too early or too late.  We won’t see the flower blooms up north for a couple more months.

We did see one cactus bloom.  The mass cactus bloom won’t be until May, but this little guy was an early flower.

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