Monday, August 31, 2009

Vintage Photo Effect

Vintage Effect

The Curves settings are very similar to the Cross-Processing effect I blogged about earlier.

Vintage adds 3 coloring layers. 1) pink cast, 2) sepia cast, 3) vignette
Cross Processing added 1 coloring layer - a yellow cast.

The nice thing is it's all on layers so can change each effect as desired by double clicking on that layer. Also can adjust the strength of the effect by changing layer opacity, so very flexible.

Paint Shop Pro 9 does not have a vignette in the Lens Distortion Effect.
I used Filters Unlimited Photo Aging Centerspot/Vignetting which also blurs the edges as well as darken them and I liked it.

Here's another one I tried. I did not like the sepia or pink cast on this one so just turned those layers off.

There's a funny story about those cows. When I was standing on the road shooting the landscape the cows were in the field beside me and I said "mooo" really loud and they came running toward me! Cracked me up. I suppose they thought I was calling them and/or was going to feed them, I don't know. I was laughing at those silly cows and then they turned around and ran away. Must have been burning off that excess energy from the excitement I stirred up.

Here are a few free filter/plugins that do nice vignette effects and more.
Vignette Effects
Filter Set 4, Soft Vignette

MV's Plugins Site
Vignette Corrector plugin

Use the filters within IrfanView, GIMP, Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Landscapes2

Coal Train:

I like how the S shape of the train disappears into infinity.

Gold Blanket:

The gold blanket landscapes are probably wheat or barley. Barley looks "hairy" close up. Flax is darker, a pretty rusty brown color.

Down to the valley:

I confess it was a gray sky overcast foggy misty day, and I made the sky blue post-processing. The fog is more noticeable on the photo of the valley.

Straw bales are so pretty. They make me think of shredded wheat cereal. This one showed some cloud detail so I left the sky as is.

This next one is different day, different area. I was thinking the interesting view was on the other side of the hill and I took lots of photos of it. Then after driving past it, I decided to take a picture of the back into the sun and ended up liking that view and composition much better. Surprise.

Windshield Grasshopper

First the windshield bee, now the windshield grasshopper.

This is as close to a grasshopper as I've gotten so far with the tele. He looks funny, antennae blown back and leg sticking up. He was hanging on tight. Finally fell off when we slowed down.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Walk In The Field - It is Finished

The field has been harvested.
All done.
Good times had by all.

The trail after: (Can still see my mowed trail.)

The trail before.

A few "remnants" in the ditch:


Posting a few more fonts that I like.


I found it in my old Win98 Fonts folder.
Products that supply this font.


Coffee Beans

Add a bevel, subtle drop shadow, top/bottom border.
And the background?
Windows XP Coffee Bean.bmp as pattern fill layered in.

Windshield Bee

I couldn't help it.
Perfect pictorial metaphor, or whatever you'd call it.
"Sometimes you're the bug."

Or how about
"The bug stops here."

There's even a song about the bug on a windshield.
Did not know that 'til I googled it.

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love

The Bug, Mary Chapin Carpenter
Currently at YouTube

Google it cuz we all know how those YouTube videos disappear.

Google Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits version.

A little too country for my taste.

What do I have and like of
Mark Knopfler's?

In The Sky
Currently a nice video at

"Like a bird on his own flight in his domain in the sky."

Also True Love Will Never Fade is pretty good.

Lyrics and clips of both songs (on the Kill To Get Crimson album) at artist's website.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Landscapes

Follow the bright mustard yellow blanket landscapes in August and you'll find the sunflowers.

Corn Rows Vista:

Buckwheat and 3+3:
3 volunteer sunflowers
3 wind turbines

Buckwheat Closeup with ladybug:

Unknown Bird

I was leaning toward a female red-winged blackbird again, but the wing pattern looks different from the other one I labeled red-wing, so who knows. I'll keep them in separate posts, and if I am able to id for sure, I'll update this post.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Prime Lens

Bought my first prime.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

I needed to buy some portable hard drives (Seagate FreeAgent Go) and ended up throwing in the prime lens with the order.

I put the prime on my XSi and tried it out.
Took a pic of my other two lenses (f2).

The bad purple fringing was a bit of a shock.

I've never seen that level of fringing with my XSi and kit lens or tele--ever.
I took the picture of the prime with my kit lens same scenario--ZERO fringing.

I removed the fringing with Paint Shop Pro 9.

It didn't take me long to put the tele back on my camera, cuz I had to take pictures of the bullsnake.
I'm not used to being so close to my subject for a closeup (prime).
With the tele, the minimum focusing distance (MFD) is about 5 feet (4.9) so it's always stay back, and zoom in, and I can get a much closer pic with my tele than I can with this prime.
Prime MFD is 1.5 (feet).

Okay, so first impressions of this prime weren't great.
I wanted to try a prime and I do plan on using it for low light situations.
I thought long and hard before choosing this particular lens over other ones.
I think I'm just still overly in love with my tele at the moment.

A few outdoor shots with the prime:

Goldflame spirea (f8):

Ivory Halo Dogood leaves (f8):


Bullsnake or Bull Snake.
Sometimes one word, sometimes two.

This guy has been seen around here before, or one like him, just never had the opportunity to take a picture of him. Well this time, he was in our garage and had to be removed, which was quite the activity. He wanted to stay in the garage where it was nice and cool. NO WAY, You are outta here, man.

We knew he was harmless or non-venomous, but he will bite and did attack the stick we used to get him moving out of the garage.
About 4 to 5 feet long.
He's a hissing constrictor.
Eats gophers and mice, among other things.
Predators: hawks and eagles.

The coloring on photos was warm (brown) indoors and cool (black) outdoors, so now I can't recall what color he really was for sure. A mix of brown and black, probably.

Class Reptilia
Order Squamata
Suborder Serpentes
Family Colubridae
Genus Pituophis

The best info found from googling Genus Pituophis (bullsnakes, gopher snakes, and pine snakes)

Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi) is a subspecies of gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer)

Note on ref found at link above:
The Center for North American Amphibians and Reptiles (CNAAR)
was renamed
The Center for North American Herpetology (CNAH)
in 2000.

I've also seen the bullsnake categorized as Pituophis melanoleucus (pine snake) and as subspecies, Pituophis melanoleucus sayi.


Choose Iowa or Minnesota. They both had the exact same info on Bullsnake.

Kinda cheesy site, but actually had a very good summary of bullsnake.

herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota
1. Bullsnake
2. Common Garter Snake
3. Plains Garter Snake
4. Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) [ND's only poisonous snake]
5. Racer
6. Redbelly Snake
7. Smooth Green Snake
8. Western Hognose Snake (Heterdon nasicus)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peregrine Falcon

I was following a news story about a Great River Energy construction project in Spiritwood, North Dakota (just East of Jamestown) and found out the Great River Energy plant in Elk River, Minnesota (just North of Minneapolis) has been host of a peregrine falcon nest for three years in a row and have a cam up which can be viewed at their website.

Well, it's too late this year because they are fledglings and out of camera range most of the time now. Maybe next year.

There are pictures, however. Links below.

NOTE: Baby falcons are called eyasses.


Bird Cam:
Great River Energy’s Elk River Station is a perfect site for a nesting box because it is located in a peregrine falcon migratory flyway. The site, beside the Mississippi River, is also a draw because the birds prefer to nest in high locations near water.

2008 cam pics
2007 cam pics

Spiritwood construction project

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

1. The name "peregrine" means wanderer.
2. Has one of the longest migrations of any North American bird.
3. A very fast flier, avg 25-34 mph traveling, up to 69 mph in pursuit of prey, high of 200 mph dropping down toward prey.
4. Minnesota not on range map for peregrine falcon.

A favorite nesting site nowadays is a tall building or bridge in a city; these urban Peregrines subsist mainly on pigeons.

Google images:

flickr sets
(Creative Commons License)

Firefox 3.5.2

How can I make that clear recent history confirm go away in Firefox3.5.2?
I have to install an addon for that now.

Just a few of probably the many complaints about that one,

How to Remove New Tab Button in Firefox 3.5.2.

C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profile.default\chrome

add below string to userChrome.css file
.tabs-newtab-button {display: none;}

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bird Puddle Hot Spot

Returned to the avocet site and got more pics.
Setting: It's just a big puddle of water in a field close to a gravel road:

One of my favs:

There were a lot of avocets.
Some fun ones:
(Notice their plumage is changing from breeding rusty/tan head/neck to winter white.)

There were lots of other birds at the "pond" as well, but they didn't allow me to get as close, thus pics aren't as good.
It was one active little spot.

This is a close as we got to the ducks:

I referred to Marshbirds and Shorebirds of North Dakota and my bird books for these next ones, but could not id for sure.

Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) in the background maybe? I don't know about the one in the foreground. I could guess that one as a juvenile maybe, but there were so many different birds there that might not be a correct assumption. Another thing that complicates the id process is the birds seem to be changing plumage as evidenced by the avocets. The adult willet is supposed to have a flashy black and white wing pattern in flight, but I don't have any of those pics.

Here's another pair that I think probably belong to the same Sandpiper Family (Scolopacidae)

Yellowlegs are migratory only in ND, so it couldn't be them, not yet, in August.

Here's yet another one I could not id:

One of the above could be a Wilson's Phalarope (Family Phalaropodidae) maybe.
Anyway, I give up. Just don't have enough info to positively id.

There were killdeers also, now those I can id just by their sound:

Telescopes, Astronomy, and Birds, Oh My

Google Excursions.

I returned to the American avocet "pond" site and took a bunch more photos and have some birds to id.

I was looking thru my bird books first.
Birds of the Dakotas,
Golden's Birds of North America 1983 Ed.,
(now 2001 Ed.)

Found this little tidbit on page 108 Behaviour of Shorebirds:
9. Dunlin standing on one foot, a typical resting posture of shorebirds.

Googled: one leg resting posture birds.

Sleep behaviour and sleep postures.
Interesting read.

Followed link to two of his friends.
Found out Matt just started an
astronomy blog.

He uses Stellarium, a free open source planetarium software and links to
deep astronomy.

Deep Astronomy recommends
Dobsonian Orion SkyQuest Classics 8 inch telescope ($330.00)
Meade LightBridge 8 inch telescope ($399.00).

AND also uses this little handy dandy
Edmund Scientific Astroscan 2001 which actually looks most appealing to me.

The Astroscan is still available here for $199.00.
Full review here.

From birds to sleep patterns to astronomy to software to telescopes.
Now where was I? lol
Oh yeah, got some birds to id...