Final Six Atlantic Puffin Photos
These guys are so cute and comical that I’d like to post all 300 from my 90 minutes on the island but I don’t want to bore you to tears. If I ever recover from my seasickness, I may try this again in the future.
I believe the first guy was scratching under his chin but it might be part of his grooming ritual. Either way, he’s too cute. I liked the 2nd photo because of the soft green bokeh. The 3rd, if I recall correctly, was the start of a short flight (more like a hop) to another rock. He flapped his wings several times and flew just as I was distracted.
These last three are simply “formal” portraits. Although, at first blush, they appear comical, they’re really very handsome birds. Unfortunately, their take-off and landing skills leave a lot to be desired. When landing, they remind me of gooney birds on Midway Island in the Pacific. It’s more of an inelegant, controlled crash.
Lubec, ME, Easternmost Point in the US
I tried my hand at creating a “painterly” effect without resorting to the myriad LR or PS CS plug-ins, add-ons or other 3rd party tools. I liked this old house and I think it looks like a painting without going “over the top” with special effects. What’s your opinion? The mailbox (from a different abandoned house) looked rather forlorn even before I processed it. The tombstone would look great on a “dark and stormy night.” Unfortunately, clear skies were all I had to work with. All these photos were made with my “go-to” lens, the 24-105/4IS L on a Canon 5D Mk II and post-processed in LR4.
The chain fence was in front of a derelict building. I’m not completely happy with it because I missed my DOF. The last photo is the prettiest house we saw in Lubec. It was the epitome of a picturesque New England waterfront home.
Puffins of Machias Seal Island
Puffins are highly social birds but, often it’s hard to tell what’s really happening. In the first photo, I believe the trio in the foreground is gossiping but, it’s possible it’s two males about to get it on over a female. Since it’s impossible to tell males and females apart so it’s also possible it’s three females griping about the lack of eligible males. (just kidding)
I’m pretty sure the second photo is of a nesting pair but they haven’t yet produced an egg. Otherwise, one or the other would be sitting on it. The third photo is a bit sad. It’s either a male with nest building material looking for a female to “play house” or it’s a male who’s lost his mate. The reason I think it’s a male is because a female wouldn’t stand around looking forlorn. She would be busy building the nest, assuming the guy is watching TV at the local bar!
The first photo is another angle of the guy with nest building materials in his beak. The second photo shows a pair on a nest. They either have an egg or are very close to it. The last photo is the only one made with the 5D MkII and 70-200/4L. All the others were made with a Canon 7D with the 70-200/4L + 1.4TC. The last photo is also one of the first where I applied a positive vignette. I usually apply a negative vignette (slider under Effects) to slightly darken the corners and draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. In this case, the light BG seemed to call for a positive (light) vignette.
Puffins only display the colorful beak and yellow cheek “rosette” during nesting season. Both males and females have the same coloring. The heads are not white but a very light gray. Like so many creatures, Atlantic puffins are considered “Threatened,” just one step removed from “Endangered.” In the past, Atlantic puffins were hunted to near extinction along the New England coast. By 1900, just two small colonies remained off the Maine coast. Here is a link to a good Atlantic puffin FAQ.
As previously mentioned, I use Lightroom 4 (LR4) for almost all my processing anymore. A good reason for making the switch to LR is that Adobe Photoshop CS (Creative Suite) is no longer offered as a stand-alone product. It can only be purchased as a subscription model. I don’t know about you but paying $50/month for an entire suite of tools of which I would only use about 5% is a beyond silly. I’m currently at Photoshop CS4 and plan to never again upgrade.
The transition to LR entails yet another learning curve. Some people thrive on the challenge while others just want to “git ‘er done!” For photographers of either bent, the best resource for learning LR is George Jardine. I know I sound like a shill, a broken record of a shill, to be exact but George really is the best. Applying what I’ve learned from George’s videos, I can now import, tag, sort, develop and output hundreds of photos in just a fraction of the time it used to take with Photoshop CS4 and Bridge. Most importantly, I now have a clear grasp of what LR controls do, how to apply them and how to evaluate the results. How often have you agonized over a photo, wondering if one treatment was better, worse or the same as another? Now, you can actually know what you’re doing! What a concept!
I don’t get a nickel from George, I just want my readers to get the best they can out of their photos and George’s videos are the path to LR enlightenment. So, today’s LR Tip is, “If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it but haven’t installed it, install it. If you’ve been flailing around inside it, check out George’s videos.”
By the way, LR is NOT for you if you want to mangle pixels through cutting, pasting and otherwise changing the appearance or position of photo elements. LR is NOT for the scrapbook contingent or “Look at my adorable (baby, puppy, kitty, etc)” crowd.
More on Acadia National Park
Long time readers will recognize my penchant for the absurd. As I alluded in my previous post, Acadia is actually a monument to Old Money, as opposed to, say, Old Faithful. The first photo shows stainless steel rails and a freshly painted walkway at a scenic area. There may be others but this is the first time I’ve seen stainless steel handrails throughout a NP. The next two photos show how even water is carefully channeled and diverted to its proper place. I must admit, they did a nice job of selecting and placing the rocks.
The first photo shows the South Ridge Trailhead at the top of Cadillac Mountain. I was trying to make a photo without the blue trail markers on the rocks but it was impossible. Really? Trail markers on a 1300′, 3.5 mile trail? Is this a Cub Scout training course? The 2nd photo is my effort to try to photograph our RV at the top of Cadillac Mountain without the gazillion tourists and cars. Yes, Yellowstone, Yosemite and other western NPs are crowded but, seriously, so many people and cars that I have to walk into the middle of bushes to block all the clutter?
The last photo is the raison d’être for Acadia National Park, the toney ‘hood of Bar Harbor. This is what Rockefeller and his cronies wanted to protect by declaring the surrounding land a national park. Ain’t America great, money can buy anything including a national park for your backyard.
Save an Extra 50 Bucks
I twisted George Jardine’s arm into offering an extra $50 discount on his San Diego Lightroom 3 weekend intensive workshop. This is two full days of LR3 training that will help you step up to the next level.
All the photos you see on this site have been edited in LR. Without George’s videos, I would still be putzing along. Now, I get back from a shoot with several hundred to a thousand files and blow through them in no time so I’m ready for my next shoot. If you’re a serious photographer who prefers to spend time behind the camera instead of in front of the monitor, this workshop is for you!
George Jardine will pump you so full of LR tips, tricks, techniques and concepts that you’ll think your head will explode. If you think a $49 class in a conference hall filled with 300 of your best friends is good training, you’re in for a shock. Get the discount code from George and get ready for some serious LR training!
How Much Is Too Much Editing?
Most photo contest only allow minimum editing including cropping, adjusting levels and sharpening. Cloning and healing are generally not allowed and removing an entire element is definitely verboten.
The San Diego Natural History Museum Best of Nature Photography Show is different in that it’s more of a fund raiser for the museum so pretty much anything goes. With that in mind, I decided to try the following.
The first image is the original and the second is the edited version. Most contests would never allow the edited version but I felt the single landing eagle was more impactful. What do you think? Is this too much editing? Does it change the essence of the photo?
This was made at Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM with a Canon 40D and a 300/2.8 and 2x TC on a Gitzo 3530LS with a Wimberly Sidekick. Exposure was 1/160, f/25, ISO 1600, 0EV. It’s titled The Eagle Has Landed.
This photo will be used in the Wacom tablet webinar this Wednesday, 10/26 from 7 to 7:30PM.
Check All Memory Cards Before Formatting
Back on October 9, I posted photos from Alabama Hills including a night shot of Mobius Arch framing Lone Pine Peak. I wasn’t happy with the full size print because the photo was slightly out of focus (OOF) and a large print emphasized the misfocus.
While taking photos of the two B&W prints in the last post, I discovered a dozen in-focus photos of Mobius Arch at night made with my Canon 40D and Sigma 10-20. I had switched to the 40D after framing the Mobius Arch with the 24-105 and realizing it was too long. I had completely forgotten these photos and nearly formatted the card without checking. Ergo, I am an idiot. The take away is very simple: Always check and double check your memory cards before formatting, d’oh!
The one on the left is 20mm and the one on the right is 10mm. These were made within 2 minutes of each other. They appear quite dark because a) it was night and b) compressing and resizing reduces the brightness. Printed at 13×19, they appear fine.
As an afterthought, although I typically print at 13×19, the Epson 3880 is capable of printing 17×24. The reason I don’t is because of increased cost and greater hassle to store and display larger prints.
The Complaint Department is Closed
I received an e-mail stating George Jardine’s video on B&W conversion was, “…filled with too much technical stuff…” I deleted the reader from my mailing list to protect him from himself. I’m sorry if everything isn’t simple and easy but, if it were, any 6 year old could make photos like Ansel Adams or David Meunch. The complaint department is now closed!