My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Is it cheating?

It’s Saturday January 16th as I begin working on this post, and this morning was the first time all week that I made it outside for a walk. I’ll get to the details of the past week in a while, but one of the things I’ve been doing during the cold snap that we had, was to check out more image editing software than what I’m currently using. What I currently use is Adobe Lightroom to organize my images and to do basic exposure corrections that are within the range of possibilities in Lightroom. I also use Photomatix Pro to create HDR images, which is beyond what the version of Lightroom that I have can do.

I saw an ad for Macphun photo editing software, it has been getting some attention as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, and seeing that they are offering a free trial, I decided to check it out. One of the drawing points is that rather than being able to do just about anything to an image in one program, the Macphun software is a suite of programs, with each one doing one aspect of the editing. There’s Snapheal to remove unwanted elements in an image, and Noiseless to remove noise, as an example of how the software is structured. In the online demonstrations, they made it look so easy, and the results so good that I had to give it a try. I can’t say that I was impressed, I believe that some trickery was involved in the demonstrations. For example, in the Noiseless demonstration, not only was all the noise in the image removed, but the resolution of the image looked to be improved as well.

In my testing of my images, I never did get rid of all the noise before the resolution of the images became so poor that I’d never post them to my blog, let alone try to print them. I think that Lightroom does a much better job of removing noise.

So, I tried Snapheal to remove unwanted things from a few of my images, and the outcome was mixed. It worked well in some cases, not very well at all in others. It certainly wasn’t as it was portrayed in the demonstrations that I watched. As I said, I believe that some trickery was involved for both of the programs, such as using two different images as a before and after, but I can’t swear to that.

I also checked into Photoshop as well when I learned that they offer a free 30 day trial of that program. Again, in my very limited testing, the results don’t come close to what the online demonstration showed, but in my opinion, Photoshop performed much better.

However, the question is, is this cheating? Here’s the after image that I worked on…

Green heron after Photoshop

Green heron after Photoshop

…and here’s the before version.

Green heron

Green heron

As you can see, I used Photoshop to remove the branch that obscured the view of the heron. If only I could teach the birds to pose nicely for me, with no intervening branches, I wouldn’t have to worry if removing the branches was cheating or not. 😉

I’d only resort to cheating if the subject and the overall image was worth it, as it would take far too long to process every image that I shoot. It only took a few seconds to select the branch and remove it initially in this photo, however, cleaning up both the sky and the heron “behind” the branch so that they looked right, took considerably longer.

Anyway, I decided that if I’m going to add any software to what I already use, it will be Photoshop, even though it’s a bear to learn, and despite the fact that Adobe attempts to take over my computer. Since tomorrow’s is forecast to be even nastier outside than last Sunday was, I may give the Macphun software a few more chances before I make up my mind as to which software I’ll use, and delete the free trial of the software that doesn’t make the cut.

Speaking of last weekend, I did a little more work to this image of the Grand Haven Lighthouse.

Grand Haven lighthouse in a snowstorm

Grand Haven lighthouse in a snowstorm

And, even though these next two weren’t shot from the same spot, they do show the difference in appearance of the north breakwater at Grand Haven between a calm summer morning…

The Grand Haven channel at dawn

The Grand Haven channel at dawn

…and the fury of the winter storm last weekend.

The north breakwater at Grand Haven in a storm

The north breakwater at Grand Haven in a storm

Also, if you look closely, you can make out a gull over the breakwater, which I still find hard to fathom how they manage to fly in such weather with the falling snow and spray from the waves pelting them.

Hmm, maybe this next photo will shed some light on that.

American crow blinking

American crow blinking

I had saved that photo from my walk on Saturday to show one of the problems that I have photographing all birds, but crows in particular. Most birds have a third eyelid which moves horizontally across their eyes which is called a nictitating membrane. The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining visibility.

Maybe it’s bad timing on my part, but I seem to catch a lot of birds in mid-blink of their nictitating membrane, or even worse in a photo as in the one above, with the nictitating membrane fully covering their eye. Since I’m trying to get the eye(s) of my subject as sharp as I can, with the nictitating membrane partially or fully closed, it ruins my photos in my opinion. I saved the photo of the crow because they seem to blink their nictitating membrane more than any other species of bird that I’ve photographed and I wanted to remember to include that in my post.

However, as I was working on this section of this post, I remember that when I’ve been choosing which photo of a gull to use for my blog, that I’ve caught them blinking their nictitating membrane and that their nictitating membrane is transparent and difficult to see, other than when they have it closed, their eye looks as if I missed the focus slightly as it doesn’t look sharp in a photo. Maybe the gulls are able to fly through blowing snow and spray from the waves of Lake Michigan because they close their nictitating membranes to protect their eyes, much as humans wear goggles while skiing or other activities where our eyes need protection, birds have built-in goggles to protect their eyes.

Okay, it’s another cold, snowy Sunday morning, a virtual repeat of the weather last Sunday. I knew that it was coming, and I’ve been trying to think of something to do today that involves photography. I’ve considered a few indoor venues, as luck would have it, this is the weekend that Frederick Meijer Gardens is holding their annual orchid show. However, I’ve been to the orchid show a few times, and while the orchids on display are beautiful, the venue is crowded and not conducive to great photography, as they don’t allow the use of a tripod and frown on using a flash.

Orchid

Orchid

Also, part of the facility is closed for the week, making it a less attractive place to spend a day.

I could go to the Airzoo again, but I have dozens of photos left over from last year that I didn’t post.

Kalamazoo, Michigan AirZoo

Kalamazoo, Michigan Airzoo

I could retrace my trip from last week, trying to shoot better photos to capture what it’s like in a snowstorm, but that seems rather silly to me right now. Why do two posts in a row of bad photos shot during a snowstorm?

I could whine about the lack of sun, over the last 9 days Grand Rapids has had just 5.3% of possible sunshine and over the last 40 days, Grand Rapids has had just 13.3% of possible sunshine, but that doesn’t change things. Neither does whining about how cold it is, with the windchill outside -10 F (-23 C) with snow falling as I type this. The winter blahs have set in, that’s for sure. However, the good news is that it’s the middle of January, which means that we’re half way through winter here in Michigan.

While I’m sure that we’ll have plenty of cold and snow left this winter, spring is now in sight, and I should begin to see the very early signs of it soon. The birds and other critters will begin behaving differently, with a few male birds beginning to practice their spring mating songs when we have a spell of good weather. Then, I’ll notice that the leaf buds on trees are showing signs that they are swelling, just a little, in preparation for when spring does arrive.

As if on cue, as I was typing that, the sun came out for a while, so despite the cold, I bundled up and went for a walk around home. It may have been the quickest three miles that I’ve walked in quite some time, as it was bone-chilling cold out there. And, it isn’t as if there were blue skies and great light, because the snow never let up the short time while I was out. Still, while it may have been tough on this old body, it was good for the soul to get out in the filtered sunshine for a change. I even shot a few photos of a pair of mallards that were feeding in the creek.

Icy mallards

Icy mallards

 

Female mallard

Female mallard

I also saw one of our resident red-tailed hawks, and it was closer to me than when I shot this photo on Saturday…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…but today, the hawk was on the other side of a row of trees so that I didn’t have a clear view of it. I only included that photo to remind myself of how well the settings that I have programmed into the second back button focusing set-up work, even though I continue to fine tune them. However, with the 7D Mk II, it’s getting to the point where I can spot a perched bird like this hawk and use the first button for a portrait…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…then switch to the other button when the hawk takes flight…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…and the 7D continues to track the hawk very well, almost like shooting fish in a barrel…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…even with the woods in the background. By the way, those photos of the hawk were shot on my way to the Muskegon area one morning last month, and I’ve just gotten around to posting them.

My other photos from around home on Saturday were these two, I like this first one…

Queen Anne's lace in winter

Queen Anne’s lace in winter

…but this next one was a practice shot, learning how to expose a turkey in the snow while using the 7D, since its metering system is completely different from what the 60D that I’m more used to has.

Turkey

Turkey

As good as the metering system in the 7D is, it doesn’t seem to like snow very much, and since this is my first winter using that camera in the snow, so I have much to learn yet.

Well, it’s now Monday morning, I frittered around with the free trials of the software that I downloaded last week, reviewed a few more images shot by others that have been uploaded to Flickr!, and generally wasted the day other than my walk early on. Not much has changed weather wise, it’s still very cold with occasional lake effect snow.

When it comes to the software, the biggest debate that I’m having with myself is whether or not I even need it. I found it difficult to force myself to go back and attempt to improve any of the photos that I’ve shot in the last year since I began shooting in RAW 100% of the time. Going back further makes little sense, all those images are Jpegs, and not worth bothering with because the software can’t improve those images as much as they can RAW images. And, the only reason to edit any of my images that need it is to test the software, since I have shot far better images of most subjects either before or after the images that need work. That’s why I’ll never turn into one of those people who spends a great deal of time editing images, I know that it’s far better to shoot good images in the first place, and sooner or later, I will get a good photo of most subjects. Compounding that is the improvement that I’ve been making in my techniques to shoot better images. I see little reason to attempt to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, when the silk purse will come in time as long as I continue to shoot more photos and improve my basic photography skills.

If you go back to the top and view the image that I captioned “The Grand Haven channel at dawn”, the only thing that makes it a good photo is that I caught the first sunshine at dawn hitting just the end of the breakwater and the boat leaving the channel, otherwise it would be even more hum-drum than it is.

I’d be much better off spending more time outside, learning to put myself in the best places at the best times to get good images in the first place than I would be sitting inside at the computer, trying to make a poor image into a good one.

To that end, I have located a source for camouflaged material that can be used to build temporary hides for me to use to get closer to wildlife. It’s reasonably priced and much lighter in weight than the pre-made hides are, so come spring, I’ll be ordering one color to see how well it works. If the material is worth it, I can order a fall camo pattern later.

The other news from around here is that next week I’ll have a different schedule for work. I don’t know what that will be yet, I’ll find out tomorrow which of the runs that I bid on I got, if any, and what my schedule will be.

That brings up something completely unrelated to nature or photography, the trucking industry. The company that I’m working for now prides itself on how they treat their drivers and how well they retain the drivers that work for them. However, I started there just over a year ago, and the company has approximately 200 drivers working for them. In that year, I went from the bottom of the seniority list to number 79 when I put in my bid sheet for a different run this time. That improves my chances of getting a better run than the one I’ve been doing the past few months, but it also means that the company has lost over half the drivers that were working there when I started. Some drivers ahead of me on the seniority list retired, but most of them have quit to go to work for other companies. There was one day when three drivers quit in the short time I was in the office doing my paperwork.

There have been more than a few times when I had to fight the urge to quit, but I want to gut it out until I have used up my vacation time, which I’ll do in May. As I move up the seniority list, I will be able to get better runs all the time when they are open for bidding, so I’ll see how it’s going after my vacation before I make a decision whether to stay or look elsewhere.

My timing is terrible, it’s now Tuesday afternoon, and I made it out for a walk today. It was still cold, but the wind has dropped off to almost nothing, which also meant that we lost almost all the lake effect clouds. I say almost, because it was sunny when I began my walk, then the clouds rolled back in until I had almost finished my walk, when the skies cleared again. The important thing from today is that for the first time in over two months, I felt warmth from the sunshine! That goes with what I was saying earlier, spring is on its way no matter how bad the weather gets in the next few weeks, we’ve turned the corner on winter. In honor of the occasion, I’m going to post the last photo that I shot today, even though it’s a nothing photo.

Snow covered evergreen tree

Snow covered evergreen tree

My only reason for posting that photo is that I can see that the quality of light is getting better over what it has been the past few months. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the best light when I shot these earlier in the day.

Black Lab playing in the snow

Black Lab playing in the snow

 

Black Lab playing in the snow

Black Lab playing in the snow

Since I didn’t see a bird in flight today on which to test my most recent changes to my camera settings, I made do with the dog, and since the dog is black, it was also a good test of my exposure settings in a snow scene as well.

The only wildlife that I found to shoot was this fox squirrel.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Not bad considering the conditions at the time, but I can hardly wait until I’m shooting photos like this one again.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

It won’t be that long now until I’m shooting photos like these again.

Red-spotted purple butterfly

Red-spotted purple butterfly

 

Red-spotted purple butterfly

Red-spotted purple butterfly

 

Heal-all seeds

Heal-all seeds

 

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

 

Daddy long legs spider caught in another spider's web

Daddy long legs spider caught in another spider’s web

 

Spider and web

Spider and web

It’s currently Wednesday morning, and the big news today has little to do with nature or photography. Even though the temperature outside has moderated a little over what it was the beginning of this week, and even though there’s some filtered sunshine, I won’t be going for a walk today. That’s because last night, as I was walking across a parking lot to get a cup of coffee for my trip back to the home terminal where I work, I was struck by a car. I managed to escape being hit directly by the front of the vehicle by moving out of the way, but the ditz driving the car turned hard left and struck me with the side of her car.

I’m okay, other than bruises on both elbows, a gash on my left arm from where the car’s outside mirror hit me, and scrapes on my right elbow from when I hit the pavement. Both arms are sore, so I don’t feel like lugging a six pound camera/lens combination around on slippery trails. I’ve been injured much worse in dirt bike wrecks and some of the other stupid things that I used to do when I was younger, but I’m feeling my age today. By tomorrow or Friday, I’ll be back to normal again.

I think that her car is in worse shape than I am, her outside mirror is gone and she has a big dent in the door from where she hit me. It was funny in a way, I was sitting on the ground taking stock of my injuries, and the ditz driver was whacking me with her door as she tried to get out of her car to see how badly injured I was.

The other big news is that starting next Tuesday, my assigned run will be the same run that I had for the first half of this past summer. That will mean that I’ll be out very early to catch sunrises and also have the best light for wildlife! In my opinion, early morning light is sharper than late afternoon light, although afternoon light is warmer. Each has its merits, but I personally like being out at sunrise much more than at sunset, even though sunsets can be more spectacular than sunrises. I also love what the warm late afternoon light does for wildlife photos, but I see more wildlife to photograph at dawn than I do at sunset. Maybe I should nap in the middle of the day and catch both sunrise and sunset?

Anyway, I’m going to throw in a few more images that I have left from last year, then call this post done. I’ll start with a sunrise photo in honor of getting back on an assigned run that will work much better for me.

Ducks at dawn

Ducks at dawn

I don’t think that I posted many photos of this species this year.

Eastern wood peewee

Eastern wood pewee

And I’m surprised that I haven’t posted these two before, my first good photos of a female scarlet tanager.

Female scarlet tanager

Female scarlet tanager

It’s easy to spot the males, since they are scarlet as their name implies, but the duller colored females are harder to spot, and usually stay more hidden than this one did.

Female scarlet tanager

Female scarlet tanager

It’s easy to confuse this next bird with the pewee from above, but phoebe have an all black bill as opposed to the pewee’s bi-colored bill.

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

This next one is to remind myself that better weather will be here soon…

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

…as is this one, besides, I miss this bird’s cheerful songs.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

I was able to get quite a few good photos of monarch butterflies this past summer, here’s another.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

So, that wraps up another one. The weather forecast for this weekend is looking pretty good so far, it won’t feel like spring yet, but it’s forecast to be partly sunny with temperatures right around the freezing point. If that holds true, I’ll be heading to the Muskegon area for one day this weekend, hopefully I’ll be able to track down a snowy owl and a few eagles.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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46 responses

  1. Glad you weren’t seriously hurt. With respect to “photo shopping” things out or not, the more I manipulate an image electronically the more it starts to become digital art as opposed to a photograph and for some types of subjects that’s just fine.

    January 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Bob! I don’t have the patience to sit in front of a computer all day working on images. But, if a few mouse clicks can make a good photo better, then I will do that.

      January 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

  2. Sorry to hear about the injuries. Hope you are not feeling too many after effects.

    January 20, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    • Thank you very much Sue! Just a bit stiff and sore today, it will pass quickly.

      January 20, 2016 at 1:41 pm

  3. Hope your feeling well soon. With respect to editing, film was edited to. Stay subtle and you can keep it natural. I use photoshop and nik and MacPhun. Noiseless pro is great it’s my go to software for noise reduction. The presets are a stating point the adjustments that can be made in the adjustments tab enable you have sliders to protect detail and then it works as advertised. Hope this helps.

    January 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    • Thank you Victor! I propably should have given the MacPhun software more of a test, maybe someday. Right now, I’ll stick with what I know.

      January 20, 2016 at 3:27 pm

  4. Jerry, have you tried the HDR mode in the 7D mark II? It is fantastic. Those landscapes that I put on my blog of Big Bend I took using HDR artstandard. at +-2 stops. I love it!!

    January 20, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    • Thank you very much Bob! Yes, I tried the HDR mode of the 7D, I don’t think that it’s as good as Photomatix Pro. Since I had the 7D set to save the base images it used to create the HDR image, I could send them to Photomatix then compare results. In the few times that I have used the 7D for landscapes, I’ve gone to 5 images at one stop difference which you can do in the camera, then sent them to Photomatix, that works great.

      January 20, 2016 at 3:32 pm

  5. Very sorry to read of your unfortunate encounter with that car. I do hope you will recover quickly. At least the driver was concerned about you even though she banged you some more. I don’t understand all that technical stuff about photography but I do know that you take jolly good pictures of a great variety of subjects.

    January 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan. I know that I go too far on the technical stuff for some readers, but most people enjoy the photos.

      January 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm

  6. Here’s to a full recovery. remarkable pictures.

    January 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    • Thank you very much Simon!

      January 20, 2016 at 3:51 pm

  7. How horrible to get hit by a ditz-driven auto! Glad to hear there wasn’t any serious damage. I used up more than my allotted time to read through your post, so I’ll make this comment short, but thought you ought to know that some of your images didn’t show up at my end.

    Hope you get some better weather soon and we can all get out of the winter doldrums!

    January 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Gunta! I’m a bit sore yet today, but it’s not as bad as I thought that it would be. Sorry that the photos didn’t display, I think that’s due to the latest version of Safari, but I’m not sure. I’m always surprised by how long my posts end up, I don’t like to type.

      January 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

      • I’m viewing on Chrome and most of the images showed up, but just a few didn’t. Don’t have a clue what might have caused it.

        January 21, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      • I think that the problem is on my end using Safari when I insert the photos.

        January 21, 2016 at 12:36 pm

  8. You would think that car drivers would know better than to drive into a tough nut like you. I very much like the image of the driver banging you with the door as she tries to find out out how much she’s hurt you. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. I hope that the recovery goes well.
    I think that you are quite right to concentrate on taking the best pictures that you can rather than concentrating on editing them afterwards but as you say, a few quick clicks can make a world of difference to a good picture.

    January 20, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! The driver of the vehicle that hit me smacking me with the door as she exited her car is funny now, not so much at the time though. I do hope that other drivers have learned not to hit me because their car will suffer more damage than what they do to me, as nearly being run over was no fun. I hope to practice what I preach as far as getting better photos to begin with rather than relying on software to improve bad photos.

      January 21, 2016 at 11:55 am

      • I can quite imagine that being run over is no fun and I wouldn’t like you to think that I didn’t take your accident seriously. It was just that I was much taken by your stoic response to all that had happened and the very calm way that you reported on it. I hope that your bruises fade quickly and that other people do learn the lesson and don’t try to run you over again.

        January 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      • That’s okay Tom, I knew that you were kidding, and I meant for my reply to be lighthearted as well, but it didn’t come out that way.

        January 22, 2016 at 3:19 am

      • Gentle humour is quite tricky to send across thousands of miles!

        January 22, 2016 at 4:41 pm

  9. Getting hit by a car is one thing I’ve never done, thankfully. I hope you’re okay and will have no lasting pain. At our age pain from bruises can seem magnified, I’ve noticed.
    Have you ever heard of Gimp? It’s just like Photoshop but is free to download. I have it and unfortunately it’s every bit as complicated as Photoshop, so I rarely use it. Lightroom does everything I need to do and if the photo is beyond Lightroom’s help then it shouldn’t be on the blog anyway.
    You’ve got some nice macros here, like the heal all seeds and the spiders. I like them all but I think my favorites are the squirrels. The most interesting shot for me is the juvenile cedar waxwing. I’ve never seen one. The difference in looks between it and the adult bird is really amazing!

    January 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen. I’m glad that you’ve never been struck by a car, as it’s not an experience that I would recommend to any one. 😉 I’m feeling pretty good today, other than both elbows being a bit tender yet, I’ll be good as new tomorrow.

      I have heard of Gimp, maybe I should check into that software. However, I believe that you’re correct, Lightroom will do 99.9% of all my editing needs, other than HDR images. Actually, if I upgraded the version of Lightroom that I have, it would do HDR images also.

      It won’t be long now until I’ll be shooting more macros, I still have a way to go to get photos of smaller subjects as good as yours are, but like everything else, it takes practice.

      January 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm

  10. I do hope the aches and pains from your encounter with that crazy woman get better quickly. I’m also pleased you have a better assigned run at work. Your wildlife shots are so good! I especially liked the spider in its web with that beautiful purple-pink colour on the web.

    January 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    • Thank you very much for your concern Clare! I’m doing fine, my elbows are a bit tender yet, the only lasting effect is that I will no longer assume that drivers will avoid me while walking. Hopefully, my wildlife photos will continue to improve when I’m able to be outside when there’s better light.

      January 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      • An event like you had could make a person really worried about walking anywhere!

        January 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm

  11. I love your photos, I’ve looked through them about half a dozen times and I still keep seeing new things, new interesting details; sorry about your injury.

    January 21, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    • Thank you very much Charlie!

      January 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

  12. Amazing nature .

    January 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      January 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

  13. Hit by a car! I hope you’ll recover fully and quickly. The series of photos that you post here are just great, and many are really outstanding. Keep well and take care!

    January 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’m doing even better than I expected after being hit by the car, I wasn’t as stiff and sore as I thought I would be.

      January 22, 2016 at 3:16 am

  14. You are pretty nonchalant about getting hit by a car….burying it way down near the end. I’d have been ranting from the getgo (must calm down). Glad to hear that you weren’t seriously banged up, although sometimes it takes a few days for those things to really blossom.

    As to your images, I really loved the spider in the web. It was really surprising to see so many colors in that photo.

    Wish you were independently wealthy and didn’t have to work at a job you don’t really care for. I look forward to your retirement when you can be out with your camera full-time.

    January 22, 2016 at 10:18 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I guess that I can be nonchalant about being hit because I wasn’t killed or anything like that. It happened, I wish that it didn’t, but there’s not much that I can do about it other than to concentrate on healing. As it is, I’m doing fine with no real after effects other than I may end up with a scar on my left arm, and since most of the other scars that I accumulated when I was younger have faded, having a new one is no big deal.

      It won’t be long now and I’ll be shooting spiders and their webs again, I’ll have to remember to do so at sunrise at the Muskegon wastewater facility, as there must be billions of spiders spinning webs in the grassy cells.

      Well, I guess two wishes for the same thing didn’t work, I was hoping to win a slice of that last big Powerball jackpot so that I could retire early, but no luck. 😦

      January 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      • Here’s the deal. When I win Powerball, I promise to cut you a share so that you can retire a few years early, and keep me entertained in my doddering old age. Seems like a good deal for both of us.

        Hope the weekend storms aren’t hitting you, at least too badly. Looking forward, as always, to your next post.

        January 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      • Thanks for the thought, but if you win the Powerball, you could afford a good photographer. 😉 No storms here, it’s sunny and nice outside.

        January 23, 2016 at 9:54 am

  15. I was happily reading through your post thinking about which photos I wanted to comment on and then you wrote you got hit by a car! All other thoughts flew out of the window for a moment as I quickly read on. I was very relieved to find you aren’t typing from a hospital bed with major injuries. Yes, I’m glad you appear to be a big, tough fellow too! Just take it easy for a while. There may be some more bruising/damage that you don’t know about yet.
    Anyway, your photos were beautiful as always. Most of the birds I see love to perch behind branches or stay behind grass and bushes so I have beautiful shots of the foliage and lovely blurs of feathers. 🙂 If I do manage a non-blurry shot of the actual bird, I am happy so I don’t even get to the point of thinking about removing anything from the pics. If I had a desktop with a decent screen (I use a 13 inch laptop with a poor screen) I’d probably think about further software and learning more. I don’t see anything wrong with removing branches and other things to help show more of the bird. If you’ve got the equipment and the time and patience, why not. 🙂 Just do what gives you satisfaction and pleasure.
    I’ve always been more of a sunrise person. I just love that time of day when no-one is up yet and the world is just starting to awaken. There is far more shy wildlife about here then as the day is still cool in summer. Usually the lakes and ponds are glassy then before the wind has picked up. Sunrise is very early here though and the late afternoon lighting is lovely and can be more gentle too. Hard to decide! I hope you are fully recovered soon, Jerry. 🙂

    January 22, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! I’m fine, just a few bumps, bruises and cuts. I’m healing nicely, things are beginning to itch to tell me that, which may be the worst part, not scratching to remove the scabs.

      Patience is the key to any of the software, and it’s something that I’m lacking. I can wait out a bird in the brush as I try for a photo, but sitting at a computer editing the photo is boring.

      Sunrise is my favorite time of the day for all the reasons that you listed, plus, the light is better for photography. I missed today’s sunrise, I hope to catch tomorrow’s.

      January 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

  16. OMG, prayers you’re feeling better, Jerry. All so many wonderful photos, I love the RTHawk photos. Best of luck on your software selection. I use Photoshop but agree, best to get a great image that doesn’t need so much editing, it takes too long! It is more fun to photograph than edit! Congrats on getting the run change, looking forward to those sunrise photo op captures.

    January 23, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! You’re right, it’s much more fun to shoot photos than to edit them. I’ll probably upgrade to Adobe’s Creative Cloud bundle one of these days, but I’m in no hurry to do so.

      January 24, 2016 at 6:11 am

  17. Sorry to hear you got hit by that car! And good luck on the job front and moving up in seniority. Hang in there! The photos are beautiful as always, and that was an interesting note about the gulls using their nictitating membranes to shield their eyes while flying in snow.

    We still have the nutria here, and I posted some better photos of them, now that they are coming out in daylight.

    January 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I’m just about all healed up from the car incident. It took me a while to figure out the gulls can fly in weather that hurts my eyes, so I did a little more research.

      January 24, 2016 at 3:03 pm

  18. Well, I read the first half of this a few days ago, and finally made it back to read the rest… only to find out you got slammed by a car! I’m so sorry that happened to you! I’m glad to hear you weren’t seriously hurt. I think your use of the word “ditz” was a little too kind, though. 😉 Hope you’re healing quickly!

    On a happier note, the blog and photos were excellent, as always. Thanks for letting us tag along!

    January 26, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    • Thank you very much Jan! The “ditz” works at the place where I was, I was going in for a cup of coffee, which I did almost every night. She’s really a nice person, but she was late for work and not paying attention to her driving.

      January 27, 2016 at 12:15 am

  19. I am sorry for your car accident. Hope you will be fine soon.

    January 27, 2016 at 3:45 am

    • Thank you for your concern! I’m fine now, it wasn’t that bad to begin with.

      January 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm