Enhancing photographers with NIK software

Google recently released their NIK software suite into the public domain. I decided to play with some of the tools on my recent Mud Lake nature photos. I normally just use DFine2 to clean up sensor noise. I decided to open up the shadows and enhance shadow detail that was normally lost.

before:

imgp1163NIK Dfine2 to clean noise, then NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to open up the shadows.

After:

imgp1163-bSlightly different cropping . . .

Then I opened this image:

Before: I do like the image, but let’s see what we can do.

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After #1: Brightened up, this is how I imagined the scene.

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The NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 can bring up lost feather details. So I tried merging the two images each in a Photoshop CS6 layer and adjusted the opacity.

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The opacity was adjusted visually for the look I wanted.

 

Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Ontario

A couple afternoons at Ottawa’s Mud Lake

Background on Mud Lake (Britannia Conservation Area)

A 79 hectare patch of wilderness in the middle of an urban setting, Britannia Conservation Area is an amazing area of forest and wetlands. It is home to a pond called Mud Lake and hundreds of species of wildlife, with raccoons, frogs, turtles and foxes. This is prime birding territory, with thousands of birdwatchers coming each year to observe hundreds of different species. A walk through this easy-to-access natural area provides an exciting escape from city life.

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Today Friday October 14th, was a wonderful above seasonal temperatures. Taking advantage of possibly the last opportunity before winter arrives. My goal was hopefully to photograph Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias Linnaeus), but the Great Egret (Ardea alba egretta) was very high on my wish list. Along the trail I was buzzed by many Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) looking for handouts.

Along the trail I was met by this Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), I had to put my 50mm f:1.4 lens on, as it was far too close to use my 300mm prime.

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Expecting handouts were these animated characters…

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American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)  Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

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Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

 

Along the trail I saw a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias Linnaeus) land midway across the lake, and a Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) across the lake.

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Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias Linnaeus) with 600mm equivalent, Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens, with Pentax T6-2X Rear Converter. Effective focal length 900mm f:8…

imgp1077Great egret (Ardea alba egretta), Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens with Pentax T6-2X Rear Converter (Effective focal length 900mm f:8) /

I was disappointed, and thought this as good as it was going to get. But the Egret had other ideas. He/she flew over towards the start of the trail, where my 300mm was almost too much lens.  I should have packed my ATX-Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom, as it would have been perfect where it landed.

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Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

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Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

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Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

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Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

 

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My personal favourite of the day, heck might be my favourite of the fall. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

Now my action sequence…

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.. success

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He was very good at fishing, this was the biggest fish I saw him catch, pretty sure it’s Brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) aka mud pout.  Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

 

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta), Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens

As I headed down Cassells Road, I liked the light that was falling on the local ducks.

imgp1181Mallard Duck drake (Anas platyrhynchos) Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime

imgp1183 Mallard Duck hen (Anas platyrhynchos) Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime

 

imgp1020Wood Duck hen (Aix sponsa) Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

With another female Wood Duck showing her colours.

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Wood Duck hen (Aix sponsa) Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

imgp1200Wood Duck drake (Aix sponsa) Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.


Wednesday October 19th the mercury climbed to a high of 24.2°C so I headed back to Mud Lake. I approached from the south trail near the footbridge. I encountered several American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) near the newly rebuilt footbridge. The water lever is very low, and there were now turtles basking in the sun. But to the west of the bridge there was a Great Egret (Ardea alba egretta) on a raft of vegetation. This  required mounting my 2X teleconverter on to my 300mm f:4 prime telephoto lens.

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) in Mud Lake, Ottawa. Wednesday October 19, 2016. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens, with Pentax T6-2X Rear Converter (600mm f:8).

On the distant shore there were a couple mature Great egrets, and a couple Great Blue herons well outside the reach of my lens. I heading down the trial to Cassells Road and the ridge to see what songbirds might have been around, I saw a couple White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys), the regular Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) flitting about, a few White-breasted nuthatchs (Sitta carolinensis). Both male and female Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). I failed to see any transients I heard reported at Mud Lake.

I headed back towards the small bay where I photographed the immature Great egret on Friday. I and several others were treated with an hour visit from the immature Great egret (Ardea alba egretta).

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) in Mud Lake, Ottawa. Wednesday October 19, 2016. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) eating a red dragonfly in Mud Lake, Ottawa. Wednesday October 19, 2016. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) in Mud Lake, Ottawa. Wednesday October 19, 2016. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens

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Great egret (Ardea alba egretta) in Mud Lake, Ottawa. Wednesday October 19, 2016. Pentax ✩istD ATX-Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom lens.

Fall foliage reflections with warm afternoon golden light can create a striking image.

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Wood Duck immature male (Aix sponsa) . Pentax ✩istD ATX-Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom lens.

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Mallard Duck drake (Anas platyrhynchos) strutting his stuff.  Pentax ✩istD AT-X Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom

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Mallard Duck hen (Anas platyrhynchos) strutting her stuff.  Pentax ✩istD AT-X Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom

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Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) .  Pentax ✩istD AT-X Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom

All in all it was a lovely summer like day in Ottawa. Depending on how the weather holds, I might get back before freeze-up.

 

Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa Autumn at Patterson Creek

The leaves are turning and we have frost in the air. Thursday was a wonderful above seasonal fall day, so I took a walk over to Patterson Creek in downtown Ottawa. It will be drained starting Tuesday for the winter.

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O’Connor Street Bridge Ottawa, October 7th, 2016. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

In the center of the park is, The O’Connor Street Bridge, a single concrete arch bridge spanning Patterson Creek in the Glebe community, was designed by Canadian architect Francis Conroy Sullivan in 1907. Sullivan was the only Canadian pupil of well known architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  The O’Connor Street Bridge has been designated as an Ontario Heritage Property.

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Fall colours reflecting in the water makes for interesting abstracts. Pentax ✩istD SMC-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens.

But it is Autumn, so fall colours are of interest. All are taken with my Pentax ✩istD SMC-M✩ 300mm f:4 prime lens. I tend to use backlight in my fall leaf shooting.

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This fall we haven’t had the explosion of colour as we had in past autumns, but some colours are intense

 

Darrell Larose
Ottawa, Canada

Going Buggy into Autumn

Today was the first day of Autumn, the thermometer was still hitting 27 degrees. Headed back to the Sunflower patch. Spotted another species of wasp, but it wouldn’t stay still long enough to photograph. Eventually colder mornings will slow many of these insects down. Once again I carried my aged Pentax ✩istD SMC-M 50mm f:4 Macro lens on Pentax T6-2X teleconverter, flash fill. This combination required me to be 2″ from the front of the lens to the subject.

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Paper wasp (Polistes dominula) on sunflower, Thursday September 22nd, 2016 (both).

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Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on sunflower, Thursday September 22nd, 2016

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These are very difficult as my macro lens only does 1:2 or half life size on the image plane. It’s also a f:4, so with the T6-2X Rear Converter mounted the effective maximum aperture is f:8. Lens was closed down to f:8-11 so works out to effectively f: 16-22, hand-held. Tripods are pretty much useless with small moving targets.

Went back today, Friday September 23, 2016. It was a more seasonal day weather wise. Lots of Bumblebees, honeybees, wasps, flies, ants and a few moths. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the small moths.

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Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on sunflower, Thursday September 22nd, 2016

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Half black bumblebee (Bombus vagans) on sunflower, Friday September 23nd, 2016.

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Black Ant, on sunflower, Thursday September 22nd, 2016

Went back on Sunday, a sunny but more seasonal 11 degree day.

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Paper wasp (Polistes dominula) on sunflower, Sunday September 25th, 2016

imgp0864 Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on sunflower, Thursday September 22nd, 2016

imgp0883Common housefly (Musca domestic) on sunflower, Sunday September 25th, 2016

imgp0884Green Metallic Bee (Gapostemon virescens) on sunflower, Sunday September 25th, 2016

 

Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Canada

Going buggy!

It was another nice above seasonal, 25 degree late summer day in the Nation’s Capital. I popped my old manual focus SMC-Pentax-M 50mm f:4 macro lens onto my Pentax T6-2X to my aged Pentax ✩istD body.  All these photos required me to be 50mm from the lens front to the subject. Several skillsets are required, one is not to scare the insects away. And in the case of bees, wasps or hornets not to induce a defense reaction.

imgp0549Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on sunflower stem

imgp0550 Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on verigated sunflower

imgp0557Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on verigated sunflower

imgp0563 Sharing, Honeybee & Bumblebee on sunflower
imgp0573Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons) on sunflower leaf.

I went back today, another wonderful sunny day. The last day of summer, we were at 27 degrees today. I spotted my first Green Metallic Bee (gapostemon virescens). This small plot has 4 species of wasps, at least two types of Bumblebee, and as many other bees.

imgp0593Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) on sunflower, Tuesday September 20th, 2016

imgp0602Green Metallic Bee (gapostemon virescens) on sunflower, Tuesday September 20th, 2016

imgp0603Green Metallic Bee (gapostemon virescens) on sunflower, Tuesday September 20th, 2016

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Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii) on sunflower, Tuesday September 20th.

 

 

Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Canada

AUGUST 20, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Grand Finale

Saturday was the Grand Finale for Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy. I had a photo pass for the site, at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
Panorama1Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime lens. 1/60th second f:11. Canadian Museum of Civilization, 4 frame panoramic stitch.
My chosen vantage point was about 400 metres from the launch raft in the Ottawa River. This put the Ottawa skyline as the background as seen in this 4 frame panorama. As I was very close, I mounted my SMC Pentax-DA 14mm f:2.8 prime lens on to my Pentax ✩istD. In my gadget bag were my SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4, and SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lenses and a sturdy Manfrotto 190QCB with #222 Joystick head.
The 50 year old Canadian firm Royal Pyrotechnie presented the Grand Finale show. This is a small selection of my favourites.
IMGP0403You can see the glow of smartphone and iPad screens in the crowd.
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Team Australia won both the Zeus Trophy, and the juried Best Show Award.
Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa,  Canada

AUGUST 17, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Team Australia

The weather sucked on Saturday August 13th, so I skipped Team Eastonia’s show. Last night I walked the extra mile, yes one more mile to the Québec side of the Macdonald-Cartier Interprovincial Bridge. My chosen vantage point was about 50 metres from the Ontario-Québec border. I decided this angle would have the historical Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge steel truss cantilever bridge, Parliament Hill and the Ottawa-Gatineau skyline as my background, bonus was the Ottawa River and the flotilla of small boats in the foreground.

I carried my trusty Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4, and SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lenses. My sturdy Manfrotto 190QCB with #222 Joystick head tossed over my shoulder as I walked the 500 metres to my chosen spot along the bridge. This placed me around 900 metres downstream of the launch barge.

IMGP0267Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

IMGP0294Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

IMGP0295 Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

IMGP0301Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

IMGP0303Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

IMGP0306Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11. This effect is created by starting out with my 50mm lens focused to minimum distance (18″) and racked to infinity (∞) during the time exposure. This is a hit or miss method, but can yield interesting results.

IMGP0316Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 35mm f:2.8 prime lens, 4-6 seconds f:11.

The 2016 Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy winds up on Saturday and I’ll be shooting from the media area at the Museum of History so my Ultra-Wide SMC Pentax-DA 14mm f:2.8 prime will be my lens of choice.

 

Darrell Larose
Ottawa, Canada

Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3

Doors can be interesting.  While wondering about downtown these doors caught my attention.

Gold-doorThis former bank main branch, has gold (ok brass) doors. Gold Door, Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime.

 

Oak-DoorThis turn of the century apartment block has oak, brass and glass. Oak Door, Pentax ✩istD AT-X Tokina 60~120mm f:2.8 zoom lens.

Red-doorAnd finally this red loading bay door on an industrial building. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f:1.4 prime.

There is always something to see and photograph.

 

Darrell Larose
Ottawa, Canada

© copyright, all rights reserved. Darrell Larose, Ottawa.

AUGUST 10, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Team Netherlands

AUGUST 10, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Team Netherlands (Holland). Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 50mm f:1.4 prime lens. 4.6 seconds f:16. I met up with a handful of local photographers. Most are with my 50mm prime, and a few with my 35mm prime. I like to set my White Balance to 3400K.
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I’ll be shooting again on Saturday for Team Estonia show.
Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Canada
© 2016 Darrell Larose, all rights reserved.

AUGUST 6, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Team China

AUGUST 6, 2016, Les grands feux Casino du Lac‑Leamy fireworks: Team China. Pentax ✩istD SMC Pentax-M 50mm f:1.4 prime lens. 4.6 seconds f:16. I met up with a handful of local photographers. Most are with my 50mm prime, and a few with my 35mm prime. I like to set my White Balance to 3400K.

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I’ll be shooting again on Wednesday for Team Netherlands show.

 

 

Darrell A. Larose
Ottawa, Canada

© 2016 Darrell Larose, all rights reserved.