Archive for May, 2014

Learning Page #12 Endemic Xantus’s Hummingbird in Baja

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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Xantus’s Hummingbird – Hylocharis xantusii
This hummingbird was named after John Xantus de Vesey (Xantus János), a Hungarian zoologist.

A medium-sized hummingbird (3.25-3.75″, 8-9 cm). Both sexes have orangish chest and belly, green nape and back, purplish-brown wings and a white stripe above and behind the eye.


Learning Page #11 – Endemic Gray Thrasher of Baja

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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Gray Thrasher – Toxostoma cinereum
named by Xantus de Vesey, 1860)

The Gray Thrasher (Toxostoma cinereum) is a medium-sized passerine bird belonging to the family Mimidae like the other thrashers. It is endemic to the Baja California peninsula in Mexico


Learning Page #10 – Lazuli Bunting in Baja

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

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Lazuli Bunting – Passerina amonea (Say 1823)

The bird is named for the bright blue gemstone, Lapis Lazuli.

The Lazuli Bunting is a migrant bird in Baja. They will arrive as early as Sept, but my records indicate (more…)

Learning Page #9 – Western Tanager in Baja

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

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Male Western Tanager

The Western Tanager is a migrant that passes through Baja from the western US on his way to Central America. Only a scant month or so … (more…)


Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Almost every photo you take can be improved by cropping unwanted areas and restricting the image to the subject matter. There are few things more annoying than have a large photo with the subject only occuping 10% of the photo. I prefer that the subject occupy at lest 50% of the photo and up to the entire photo. This produces a close up portrait that is more interesting and intimate. The means of removing the unwanted and uninteresting area is a process called ‘cropping’ or ‘trimming’. In short we will slice away any of the photo that does not help your subject stand out.

Before we get into the instructions it is well to talk about orientation. For cropping there are three basic orientations. Portrait Orentation is where the longest axis is vertical. A painter who is painting the head and shoulders of someone would be said to be painting in Portrait orientation. Portrait = long axis vertical. Another orientation is called Landscape. Landscape orientation is when the longest axis is horizontial. Landscape = long axis horizontial. If the painter were painting a picture of farm house with cows in the meadow it would be in landscape orientation. The finally orientation is a square orientation. Both horizontal and vertical axis are equal

Whenever you crop a photo you will loose pixels. You are “throwing away” pixels. Don’t worry about it as you have thousand and thousands of pixels that you don’t need and will not use. The inportant question to ask is how many pixels are in the picture after cropping. We will talk about that latter, but first lets crop a photo.

I’m using a free Windows Editing Program called Fastone. We downloaded this programin LESSON – 1 – IMAGE EDITING SOFTWARE. The following photo is a shot of a bird on a feeder in my backyard.

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In looking at this photo I want the subject to be the bird, the feeder and backgrond add nothing of interest to the subject. OK the bird is taller up and down than right and left. The crop should be in portrait orientation. Since we are in Fastone Image Editor I press the “X” for crop then I select a 8 X 10 print ratio because thats the normal printing ratio. I could choose dozens of other ratios but let’s choose this or now.

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This shows the results of my request for a 10 inch high by 8 inch across crop. At this point I can move the clear Saved area either left or right, but this looks about right on. The figures in the lower left tell me the size of the selected (cleared) area in pixels. Also since I asked for 8″ X 10″ photo area a message tells me what quility it will print at 300 dpi (standard). In this case it is a High Quality at 385 dpi. But I think more cropping is in order. Too much of the feeder is shown for one thing.

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I have used the mouse and “grabbed” the upper right corner of the cropped area and moved it down and to the right to make a smaller crop so as to eliminate the feeder. It’s time now to click on ‘crop’ button in the lower right. Because I have reduced the pixels from the step aboue our print quality is now at Medium at 285 dpi. Still be a good print just not as large as 8 X 10.

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Here is the finished cropped photo. While it would not print very well at 8 X 10. It would have very high qualitu as a 4″ X 5″ photo print. Also be aware that this file is about 3 or 4 times too large for display on a computer. Computer screens can display 800 pixels high by 1280 pixels wide. Our finished cropped image is 2109 pixels wide X 2836 pixels high over 3 times too many pixels high and 2 times as many wide. A later LESSON will teach resizing to fit the web.

LESSON 6 – Fill-Flash

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Many times you will experience problems with the ambient light. Perhaps your subject is in deep shade or perhaps the sun is behind your subject and is in it’s own shadow. Maybe it is very early or very late and there is insufficient light to make a photograph. These are some of the occasions when a flashgun is handy. It can mean the difference between a good photo and another ‘throw-away’.In the Ebook ‘ZOOMING INTO NATURE’ we examined Flashguns as optional equipment. Perhaps you acquired one. If you didn’t, this chapter may change your mind. I have taken a off-the-cuff shot of a Dove at about 50 to 60 feet away at 60X with the FZ70. The first shot was using early morning ambient light. I shot another photo with the Vivitar 258HV set to zoom lens and max power. Let’s look at the results.

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The original photo with insufficient light. But in ‘LESSON 3 – ADJUSTING LIGHT LEVELS’ we learned how to adjust the light. Practicing what we learned. We display the histogram to check light levels.

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There is little white component the image, it is all is dark range. So we will balance the levels by adjusting the light end slider. The dark end is already into saturation.

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We have moved the white slider to adjust. The Image is now ‘balanced’. However it is still a throw-away because the entire body is in shadow.

In this next series of photos, we have used a fill-flash. Still the same bird in the same location. Only difference is that I used the flashgun.

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Still way too dark but note that the whole light value has shifted toward the right (brighter) as the result of the flash. Now we can control both the black and the white level sliders to balance the image.

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We have adjusted the sliders and the image has improved. The feathering on the back that was in deep shadow is now viable.

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One last adjustment was to move the mid-tone (center) slider to increase the mid-tone brightness. The original ‘throw-away’ was saved by using the fill-flash.