Hawley Lake

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Further to my ‘Lake’ collection, we visited a number of blue smears on the map.

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Admittedly they had some verbiage that indicated that there was water there… like Mexican Hay Lake and Lee Valley Reservoir, I was quickly reminded that this is Arizona.

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The ‘Lakes’ that we made our way to for photos were in fact, nothing by dry holes!  So much for that idea!  Maybe Spring after snowfall is a better time to do the Lake trek.

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The good news was we found water in abundance at Hawley Lake outside of Pinetop-Lakeside.   Even better news was that on our loop around looking for actual water in those fictitious lakes was that we did manage to encounter a variety of willing animals to photograph.

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Like this blue heron that seemed like he wanted to say something to me.  Or the chipmunk that posed for me.

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I caught these antelope running through the fields of yellow flowers along the road outside of Greer.

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One thing the trip made clear… winter is coming.  The overnight lows were chilly.  I’m not sure how many more lakes we will be about to get in, as snow will be soon following, along with closed roads.

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Hard to imagine.. but Christmas is just around the corner.  Get your winter woolies out!

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Reflections of Blue Ridge Reservoir

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There is something magical about sunrises and sunsets, and when combined with the soothing comfort of water – it makes for stunning scenery.

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It was a full moon the other day, so we decided to get some pix of Blue Ridge Reservoir at night… and in the morning.  The light cast by the full moon lit up the daisies growing through the patchwork rock that lines the ridges above the lake.

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The forest and it’s trees come right down to the waters edge at Blue Ridge.

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A brisk calm morning greeted us with gorgeous clouds and fantastic reflections in her still waters.  It doesn’t get any more relaxing than waking up to gorgeous scenery and the serenity of a calm sea and her comforting embrace of the beauty that surrounds her.

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Bartlett Lake

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You know, I live in Arizona, and it still astonishes me the delta in temperatures and climates in a mere 3 hours.  I do believe the delta is getting larger as time goes on.  It used to be 20F, now it borders on 30 – 40F difference between northern AZ and the Phx area.  When we left our home in the mountains it was snowing, 20F with 4 inches of snow on the ground.

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When we arrived at Bartlett Lake, outside of Carefree, AZ, just 3 hours south, it was 78F, and people were in shorts and t-shirts.  Crazy!

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We soaked up the sun before heading back to our cool climate.

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It’s Whats for Dinner

My www.krittersmenu.com has a category, It’s What’s For Dinner.  In the terms of my foodie blog… it’s what we have for dinner and recipes and ideas worthy of sharing.

On this photography blog, it’s not so much what we had for dinner… but what our fair weathered friends did, making for a photographic story of nature and the food chain.  Case in point, this blue heron in search of a meal.

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The hunt

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The target identified

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The catch

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Gulp!

It’s What’s for Dinner.

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!