TO EDIT (or not to Edit)

To Edit (or not to Edit your photos)?

Interesting question.   I don’t have the eyesight to do much editing now I’m back to wearing thick glasses.   I wore contact lenses for 40 years with the last few years being bi-focal contact lenses. (don’t ask me how bi-focal contact lenses work – they just do – surprisingly).

 

I don’t like over-saturated colour or over-edited images, but as I can’t really get perfect images outdoors, or even indoors, now, most of my photos need a tiny bit of ‘tweaking’.

  1. BEFORE……..

2. ………AFTER

I don’t have the time, or the interest, in photo editing.

Most of my early images are a bit dark – probably from living in an old dark un-renovated 1960s apartment for many years.   I probably didn’t lighten my poorly exposed images enough.

  1.  BEFORE……..
Pacific Black Duck

2.  ………AFTER (and on reviewing this image this morning,  I decided it was too light, but can’t seem to edit this very old photo and darken the shadows a bit more again).

Pacific Black Duck

It’s only now that I live in a modern apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows with superb light that I can see how dark my old images are.     I used to be able to ‘fix’ my old images after I updated computers or software, but for some reason, since I got the new iMac in May this year when my old laptop crashed, I can’t seem to revert my old images back to the original to fix some over-editing errors.   (of course, all you professional, or serious amateur photographers are going to say I should have shot in ‘raw’, or ‘raw’ and ‘jpeg’, NOT just ‘jpeg’).

  1. BEFORE……
Australian Pelican

2.   ……….AFTER

Australian Pelican

(And if you can’t see the difference in the 2 Australian Pelican images you’ve got worse eyesight than me  😀  ).

I used to shoot hundreds and hundreds of images in the one afternoon back in the early years of my photography hobby – 2010 to 2015 – and I found shooting in RAW took up too much room on my memory card and secondly, I wasn’t interested in photo editing anyway.

So I just shot in jpeg as they were quicker to review.

Since I love photography (more than gardening 🙂 ), I do actually used my Apple Mac’s photo-editing software.   I don’t proclaim to be a great photographer, but if you’re new to photography and would like to improve your images a wee bit without learning Lightroom, Photoshop and all the zillion other photo editing software packages out there these days, check out your computer’s in-house software.

……..and if you DO have an Apple Mac (for example), just go to the main editing screen and press the AUTO exposure button and the AUTO definition button and you’ll find just those 2 corrections in your basic Apple photo software, might be all you need to improve your images to your satifaction. (Note: I find the AUTO ‘ sharpening’ button can make your images too sharp, but you can always move the sharpening slider manually).

If you think the AUTO button is making your image too light, you can always go to the ‘slider’ under the AUTO button and slide the exposure back a wee bit manually.

In the tree/path image below, I thought the end of the visible path looked a bit crooked so I straightened the image a tiny bit.   Just a fraction.   Just enough to please my overall vision of a balanced image.   The AUTO definition button also made the tree look to be in better focus.   (Of course, you can also use the AUTO sharpening button, but I quite like the ‘definition‘ auto button better than the ‘sharpen‘ auto button).

  1.   BEFORE…….

2.     …………AFTER

That is, apart from learning to hold the camera perfectly still  😀  (or learning how to use a tripod, monopod, fence, tree or some other object to help you reduce camera movement).

I sometimes crop off a 1/4″, (or more as in the image below), or even a couple of sides.   I sometimes touch up or erase some rubbish in the water (with a duck swimming in a pond).  I sometimes erase a leaf, or tiny cloud in the sky, if I don’t like it.

  1.   BEFORE……..

2.    …………AFTER (I really just wanted to show the beetroot starting to grow, so the rest of the image was superfluous).

Like a painter, or other artist (which I was for a while), I half-close my eyes and stand back from the 27″ screen and if anything stands out too much I might even erase anything that distracts what I want to say with my image.

Admittedly, most of the images on my Nature blog are merely to illustrate a story, not win a photo competition.

But no amount of editing will improve a really bad photo, OR where you chopped a bird’s head off (as you couldn’t see because the sun was in your eyes, below).

In the image(s) below, I was concentrating so hard on getting the duck’s eye in focus, I didn’t realise until I got home and downloaded the day’s shooting, that I’d chopped the bird’s feet off the bottom.

…..and another one of ‘missing feet’

Since I’ve been photographing the Fairy-wrens on my balcony, with my elbows on my desk to steady the heavy long 150-500mm lens, I just aim to catch the little b$%#! within the frame.   Forget composition.   Forget light.  Mostly, I just have to pick the camera up and catch the wren before it flies away.   Even changing the camera setting to continuous shooting doesn’t help catch those fast little wrens.

I have deleted dozens/hundreds of shots like the one below.  Sometimes, the photo is completely empty of bird-life because I had the shutter speed too slow, or I was too slow in holding the camera still.

Don’t aim for perfection.   Aim for an image you like.   You don’t always have to have your subject in sharp focus either.   Sometimes soft focus is kind of nice too.

If after lots of practice, practice & more practice, reading tutorials or books and studying the work of great Photographers, you still can’t take a photo you like, move on.

You can probably play football or bake a cake better than take a photo.

We all have something we’re good at.

I wish I’d taken up photography as a hobby 45 years ago, but then, I guess I wouldn’t have had the spare time or patience I have today.

I’m a great lover of uplifting (or inspirational) quotes and I read these ones by Steve Jobs  & Anna Quindlen recently……

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma,
which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions
drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.

~ Steve Jobs ~

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing,
is giving up on being perfect
and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

~ Anna Quindlen ~

 

I still like Black & White photography the best…… 😀

This shot may not have the sharpest focus, but I love the balance of black, white and grey. I love the light feathers against the dark background AND the dark feathers against the light background.  I like the DOF (Depth of Focus).

 

WELL……….ONE MORE POST ON THE VEGGIE PATCH

I do have some images to share from my walk down to the local pond last Sunday (including a Great Egret), but first of all, we’ll have just one more post on the veggie patch.

I mentioned the first Blueberry of the Season the other day and I have a couple more.

1. Centre of the screen below is my very first French Bean.   I know, I know it looks like a stalk, but its a green bean and just 1″ long.   Had to move back and forth a bit to get a dark background so it would show up in the centre of the image.   I’ve never tried to grow beans before, but apparently, once the first few have grown large enough to pick, they come ‘thick & fast’ after that. So it’s got about 4 more inches to grow……..

2. Beetroot.   When I planted the punnet of seedlings I must have inadvertently planted 3 tiny seedlings together so they may not grow to full size while squashed in the one spot.  The growers plant 6 seedlings, one for each pocket of the punnet, so that’s what I planted in the trough.   Obviously they growers stuck 3 seedlings in the one pocket.  You can see 2 baby beets squashed together below.   I’ve grown beetroot for the tiny leaves to use in salads before, but never let them continue to grow beets, so let’s see how they go.

After all, my zucchini experiment last Spring was looking brilliant until they suddenly went yellow and died. (images on the left and on the right).

So we can’t automatically assume the beetroot will all grow to harvest size.

 

3. Well, not tomatoes yet, but #3 Tomato – Genuwine – a cross between Costoluto Genovese and Brandy Wine has got so many flowers on the plant in the last couple of days, I expect some tomatoes any minute 😀  (below)   This heirloom variety said harvest 9-12 weeks after planting so it may sprout fruit on the early side as #1 and #2 did.

4.   The Perennial Basil seedling was planted in too small a pot as I didn’t have any more large pots left and it was looking rather ‘ordinary’ to say the least.

A bit more water and some fertilizer have given it a tremendous boost and it’s looking very happy indeed.   I’ve now got a large pot free and I’m wondering if it’s too late to transfer it to the larger container this close to Summer?

While I’ve got Sweet Basil – an annual – growing under the Tomatoes to act as a Companion plant, I’ve got used to the long-lasting Perennial Basil (below) to cook with.   The old plant was looking very straggly and half-even by the Cabbage Moth Caterpillers, so I tossed it in the bin and started a fresh young seedling (below) this Spring.

5. A new flower on the Curry plant and plenty more tiny buds on the way (below)

…….and not a first, but an update on #2 Tomato.   One tomato out of the bunch has now reached what I consider a reasonable size, so to save the birds getting it, as soon as the first large tomato is half-ripe, I’ll be picking it to bring inside to ripen on a window ledge.

Of course, vine-ripened fruit are best, but with my regular avian visitors, I won’t be leaving any ripe tomatoes on the bushes for their dinner.   I proved in 2017 that the front of my lounge room is well and truly warm enough to finish ripening tomatoes. (photo on the right of the 2017 crop).

I was awake at 5.30am this morning and couldn’t sleep, so decided to just get up and check the garden.   Of course, the male Superb Fairy-wren was doing his usual Balcony Garden survey, walking up and down the rows of herbs and veggies just like he’s seen me doing, so I stayed indoors and watched him.

I didn’t have any cameras out of their ‘sleeping’ soft pouches, so by the time I got one out and took the lens cap off, I only managed to catch one quick shot before he flew away (below).

My bird shots weren’t exciting from Sunday’s walk so I’m tempted to go back again today and see if the Great Egret is still near the pond, but in a better location for photography?

Hmmmmmmm.

RAIN, RAIN & MORE RAIN pleeeeeeease

It has rained o/night and the forecast promises rain all day and most of next week, so that gives me a break from the watering chore on my Balcony Garden.

Seems as though the daily weather forecast is the only focus of my day at the moment.

After the wild winds of the last couple of days/weeks and the forecast for gale force around midnight last night when the cool change arrived (it was very hot yesterday), I fully expected the demise of a few balcony garden plants this morning, but no, they all looked just fine.

Its been raining very steadily over the last few hours and despite the wild winds which stripped my Blueberry bush of all its lovely white flowers, I still have high hopes of a bumper crop.   Some of the Blueberry leaves are a bit burnt also.

I have to admit the cool change which spread over the state overnight brings me a welcome relief from the heat of this west-facing apartment.

The bushfires are already making their mark across the country and we’re not even into Summer here in Australia.

As each year goes by, I feel the heat more and more and wilt just as much as the leafy herbs and veggies in my garden.

I am sorely disappointed in the lack of growth of the heirloom tomatoes I’m trialling, despite the baby fruit which are already showing their little heads.   I know it’s early days yet and the plant label said 8-10 weeks harvest on one label and 12-13 weeks to harvest on another, so my pessimistic attitude is totally premature.  But, in the past years, the “Patio” tomato bushes were such fast-growing almost straight after planting and gave such an amazing crop.

“More height, more foliage” shouts the voice in my head, but not a word in reply from the 3 straggly-looking bushes this year.

At least the House Sparrows have graced me with their presence all day yesterday and I had to refill the birdbath at least twice as the hot sun evaporated its shallow depth.

No other birds in the garden or green hedges that line my part of road.

Perhaps they didn’t like the blaring music and raucous laughter from the construction crew across the road?

I actually woke up at dawn and made a couple of photos of the colour on the construction site across the road.   I notice some more safety railing on top of the current building, so there must be more floors to add?   How tall is this building going to be I ask myself?

Since there’s not much to write about from my balcony garden, I think some images from the archives are in order for the next few weeks 🙂

It was too hot for me to go for a walk yesterday and try to find some other birdlife to photograph e.g. last year’s Crimson Rosella next to the path leading to the river.

 

THE WIND

The breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.
Kahlil Gibran

I love watching the wind rustling the leaves in the treetops, but the last couple of weeks, the gusts have been downright ferocious (as I mentioned in a previous post) and left many of my new Spring seedlings completely bent over like little old ladies planting rice paddies with a permanent stoop.

After another 2 day absence from home this past week, most plants have been revived with a good watering which encourages them to stand up straight again the next morning.   My Tuscan Kale had to be tied up between 3 bamboo stakes as it was just too tired to stand up on its own after yesterday’s wild wind.

Some other tiny seedlings like the Asian lettuce varieties are beyond recovery and will need to be replaced next time I go to the local Bunnings Plant Nursery.

My 3 tomato varieties are looking very ‘ordinary‘ and nothing like the lush thick foliage I had on my Tomato ‘Patio’ in the Spring/Summer of 2017.   I know they’re a different variety, but somehow, I really thought they’d have more foliage.

Perhaps they’re meant to have light foliage?  I’ve never grown these varieties before.

TOMATO #1 (left) Tomato Truss Sweet & TOMATO #2 (right) Tomato Sauce Maker

The Sweet Basil planted to be ‘companions’ have barely grown at all! (as you can see in the base of the Tomato plants above.

What is wrong with those Basil plants I wonder?  Not enough sun?  Too much wind?

I found 3 tiny tomatoes last week with 3 more miniature gems on the ‘Sweet Truss’ Tomato yesterday.

Tomato Plant #2 – Tomato Sauce Maker – has plenty of flowers, but no fruit yet (below).

Tomato Plant #3 – Tomato Genuwine – has only a hint of flowers (below).

The Beetroot plants have picked up in the last 2 days and are growing very well indeed.   I could use the leaves in salads already, but since I’m growing them this year for Beets, I’ll allow the leaves to stay in case they’re needed to keep the plant growing.

The Japanese Maple in front of my balcony has flowers!

I’ve never seen Maple flowers before and certainly not in the last 3 years since I moved to this western suburb.

………and the Superb Fairy-wrens have been absent, except for the bright blue feathered male below.

Even he was reluctant to show his face yesterday, as though he is embarrassed about leaving his ‘lady-loves’ stuck at home nest-sitting and bored out of their avian minds.

 

 

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

I rarely post links to other people’s blogs or websites, but if you’re interested in ‘The Northern Lights’ (Aurora Borealis) do check out the superb captures on Ian A Johnson’s overnight post here

The landscapes towards the end of his current post are stunning.

Most people photograph the sky’s light show, but Ian has also included some landscapes/seascapes and I think they’re the best I have ever seen online.