Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope to be back here with a new post very soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'll Be Back Soon

Sorry about the lack of updates here lately. I have a few things I have to take care of outside the blogging world. I hope to be back here in a week or two.

-- Ratty

Friday, October 5, 2012

Time Keeps On Ticking

Time seems to have gotten away from me again. I looked up this morning and I suddenly realized that I haven't written a blog post for a week and a half. This is after I had planned to try to gradually get back to doing this every day. It seems the outside world is still pulling to hard at me right now.

It's not interesting or fun things that grab my time. But it is tedious and boring things that tear me away from this that I love so much. I actually had these pictures ready the day after my last post. I was excited to share them with you, but now I can only remember part of what I wanted to say about them. Isn't that how things always go when you wait too long?

This first picture was all about the scene. I just thought that old broken down fence made such a good scene.  Part of what I've been wanting to accomplish with my photography is slowing down to capture just the right view or place. Finding a good place to do these things just seems important to me.

I remember reading some things about lighting effects. One of the things I read was about light coming in from the background. Remembering this, I found the perfect spot to test this out for myself. I've taken pictures like this before, but without putting the same thought into it.

Always before, I would just quickly react to a situation. That sometimes works well that way, but having a plan going in and being prepared with what I want to do helps make things that much easier. So I took this picture with a clear plan in my mind. It's not the greatest, but I was able to get the effect I wanted.

I always loved seeing the beams of sunlight shining through the tree branches from a view like this. Now I was able to capture that same thing. I actually took several pictures of this before I remembered to change my camera settings back from macro. Oops!

This last one is of a piece of firewood I have stacked up. I just thought the textures were interesting. I take pictures like this often, but I keep most of them to myself. I thought it was appropriate for this post though. How do you like it? I can't remember what I had the camera set on for this one. Macro would have probably been best, but I suspect that's not what I chose.

So that's what I've been up to. My photography's getting better, even if I'm much too distracted by obnoxious and boring things. Hopefully my next post will only be in another day or so. I looked at the comments from the last post, and there are much more than I thought. I really only thought there were a couple. I read them as soon as they arrived, but my mind just wanders too much.

Maybe I can work on my plant knowledge between now and the next post. I'm not sure if there will be much more time for that this year. It's getting cold out there now. Summer was scorching hot, and now it's already getting cold. That's the breaks I guess. What you gonna do?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Uneventful? Maybe Not

I'm back! I'm back! Hooray, hooray! I'm back!

So, what am I so excited and happy about? I was just thinking about how good it is to be here. Where else would I rather want to be than to be writing about my favorite thing, nature. I also had a fun, but rather uneventful day out taking pictures. And I actually made a little bit of progress on a few things.

I went out with the full intention of taking pictures of plants. I also wanted to use the focus on my camera in only manual mode, which I did. I thought this would help me learn how to always get good pictures of my more closeup subjects.

You can see that better focus in my picture of the bug-eaten leaf above. The leaf is nothing special, but I wanted to share a really good look at the plants I'm studying. I've learned absolutely nothing about the plants, but I'm learning to study their details a bit more.

The second picture shows the fluffy seedpods at the top of another plant of the first one's kind. I find it interesting that it was hard to focus on the seedpods. I think I did a good job in the end, but it lost a lot of the sharpness and detail when I resized the image.

I was able to put some of the sharpness back, but most of the detail seems to be lost. I'm not sure there's anything I can do to keep that when I resize something like this. It's a shame I have to do it.

I have to resize the images to 800x600 for two related reasons. The first one is to reduce the image size so you don't have to wait forever for my images to load. The second reason is because if we reduce our images down to 800 pixels or below then Blogger doesn't count the image size against our storage space. We could theoretically upload unlimited images that way.

This last picture is what I consider a bit of a failure. You can see by the stems of these little flowers that the picture is plenty sharp enough, but the flowers came out way too bright, and all the detail of them was lost. That's a shame. That's something I think I need to figure out how to more easily correct.

So that's all the little stuff I'm excited about right at the moment. It's not much, but I'm making progress on my photography and learning plants. I'll make bigger leaps as I begin to put the smaller pieces together. It won't take long at all for someone like me who can become obsessed with things like this. It's gonna be fun!

One more thing I want to let you know about is a guest article we have over at Nature Center Magazine today. The article explains which plants can help attract hummingbirds. Take a look if you want some of those little wonders to come around.

I'll be back soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Three Of A Dragonfly

I'm back here a little sooner than you thought I'd be, aren't I? I'm trying to get back to posting a little more often again. I'm always in a much better mood when I do. Writing a post, no matter what it's about, gives me the feeling that I've been able to get something off my chest. So let's get to it!

You may have noticed that the three pictures of a dragonfly that I have here today look almost identical. I have to admit that they are the same original picture, and it's hard to tell the difference between them if you just look at them in the post. But they are indeed different. You have to click on the pictures to really see it well.

The difference is in the editing. I edited these pictures in a program called Gimp. It's a free editor in the style of Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. Do a Google search for it. If you want a good editor you don't have to pay for then you won't be sorry.

Anyway, like I said, I edited these pictures in three different ways. The first one was done with an addon that is supposed to do what's called a simulated HDR effect. It supposedly makes the colors pop out and give the picture almost a 3D realistic effect. This addon is kind of hit or miss. What I liked about it in this picture is that it made the dragonfly pop out a little bit.

The second picture was done with an addon called natgeo. It's supposed to give the pictures a similar quality as the pictures you might often find in National Geographic. I think this one actually works pretty well. It really brings out the details well.

The last one was done with adjustments that I did myself. I adjusted the levels of some of the colors just a bit and I sharpened up the picture to make it easier on the eyes. I think it turned out well. I guess they all show some of the things you can do with an image editor. I like all three, but I can't decide which one is best. Which one do you like best?

Editing pictures is of course not all I've been up to. This took me only a few minutes to do these. I feel that we should have many different interests. It keeps our minds active and sharp. I'm still on my quest to learn more about plants. I haven't learned much so far, but I know that one of these times I'll make a huge leap in my knowledge.

I'm also still trying to get a little better with my photography. Basically, I want to become a little more organized and thoughtful while taking my pictures. I think that can make a huge difference in the number of quality pictures I end up with. I hope the combination of my learning all of this stuff will make some new interesting posts I can share.

And I'm still on a quiet quest to catch a Sasquatch. I plan on keeping him in my basement. Maybe he can learn to play video games or something. I've got big plans. Big plans. You'll find out one of these days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

I meant to have this post up a week ago. It seems like there's so much to do around here, but also nothing to do at times. As you can see by the title of the post, my mystery bug is a spotted cucumber beetle.

This bug turns out to be a very destructive little creep. As you may have guessed, it likes to eat things like cucumbers. It also likes watermelon, soybeans, and many other similar plants. They can destroy crops pretty quickly.

It's really a shame because these beetles sure are colorful little guys. That's how I noticed it in the first place. I saw that yellow color in one of my pictures. I immediately ran back outside hoping the little yellow bug was still there. The rest is here in my pictures.

I recently discovered that I'm afraid of heights, or at least afraid of being high up on a ladder. My dog Isabella has a dog run that consists of a cable that runs high up from one tree to another. Her chain comes down from that cable. That way she can move around in a much larger area.

The other day she got her chain stuck on the cable right at one of the two trees. I had to climb up the ladder to unhook it so it would work right again. It all started off just fine. I never anticipated that I would be afraid. But when I got about two steps from my destination I completely froze.

I had no idea I would be afraid, but I ended up having to go back down the ladder to gather myself. The second time up the ladder was a bit slower and shakier, but I finally made it up all the way and unhooked the chain with quite a bit of fear. Being up so high on that narrow ladder was not a fun experience. I'm happy to say that I got the job done though.

My quest of learning about plants was something else that was paused this past week. It's just that I got so busy that I kept putting it off. I need to hurry up and examine a few of the plants around here before they all go away for the winter.

I did get to work on my photography a little bit though. That really consisted of me playing around in the house with taking pictures of Isabella. I didn't get anything very good. I was just getting some practice with the manual focus on the camera. It might help me get clearer pictures. That's a good place to start.

I hope to have a few posts up a little sooner next time and I'm trying to get caught up with reading a few blogs too. Hopefully I won't get busy with other stuff this time. How can all that other outside junk keep getting in the way of my blogging fun? I hate when that happens!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Plant Photography

I'm on a  bit of a new adventure now. I've decided to begin teaching myself more about plants. I hope there's still enough time in the warmer part of the year to accomplish something with this new quest. Along with learning about plants, I've decided that I want to also improve my photography.

I want to go from shooting anything that moves as quickly as I can to actually knowing and understanding better how to set up my photos. I want my pictures to look beautiful when I want them to. I already get lucky sometimes, but I mostly end up with stuff that looks like what I have for you today. It can look nice, but I have some room for improvement.

I have no idea what the plant is in the photo above. I only know that it's covered in those sharp spines. It also has these purple flowers that look similar to clover. These are things I know now that I should be observing. I used a flash on the camera to bring out the spines. Very small progress in both areas.

I do know what the above plant is. Can you guess by looking at the picture? This stuff grows wild all over this area. I'll take pictures of it, but I will never even touch the stuff. It's not poisonous or anything like that, but it can be illegal in the right circumstances.

I didn't get a better picture of this hemp weed than this one. I was in too much of a hurry. That's something else I need to teach myself; I need to slow down a bit. I need to take the time to examine my subjects a bit and to decide the best way to get a good picture.

I used the camera's flash on this one, and it seemed to work the best on a few things. These plants seemed to evade the camera's automatic focus. I need to slow down and remember to use the manual focus on some things. I don't need to hurry so much on non-moving targets.

I did remember those lessons after a bit of time. One more thing to learn is how to better use the light around me. I'm paying more attention to that, but I'm still learning. All of that will also help give me better pictures so I can better examine just what plants I might have.

You may have noticed the little yellow critter in the picture above. He'll be the subject of my next post. After remembering a few good photography lessons, I got some better pictures of him. I have no idea what he is yet, but I'll be looking to find out.

Wait! After a quick check, I found the identity of the bug! I'll share that information with you, as well as some better photos, in my next post. See you soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tacos And Grasshoppers

The hot peppers I showed you in my last post were from the garden out back. I neglected to add that information in the post. The first thing I made from them was tacos. I didn't just make the American kind you get out of a packet though. I made the kind of tacos you get at good Mexican restaurants. That's what I call good food.

I only used to milder chilis for the tacos. I'll save the hotter ones for some good salsa or something similar. I've never made tacos like this before, and I was lucky enough to get it right the very first time. Maybe I'll try enchiladas next.

So by now I guess you're wondering just what that has to do with the grasshoppers in my pictures today. Well, I ground them up to make the taco meat... Just kidding! These pictures have nothing to do with my taco story, but I'm getting to the subject of them now.

These two grasshoppers are really the same one. I found it hopping around on the road by my house. I took the time to get these kind of bad pictures of it, hoping they would turn out better. This grasshopper was the only critter I saw out there that day. Actually, there were more grasshoppers, but this one was ther only one that was kind enough to stop and let me take my pictures of it.

I'm going to try to focus a little bit on plants in the future, but I'm never sure what to write about them. I don't really know much about plants, and the internet isn't much help with trying to learn. I've bought books in the past, but the ones I've tried never give enough information to help either.

Maybe I'll give the internet another try. It's possible I've just never found the right places to look. Flowers can sometimes lead to information, but there aren't many flowering plants around here. Maybe searching for plant information will be my next big internet project. What do you think?

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Ate The Strange Plants

I came across these strange looking plants the other day, and I thought they looked pretty good to eat. I figure there wouldn't be anything wrong if I just popped one in my mouth and began chewing away. What do you think? Would you eat one of these?

Actually, I really am going to eat them, but I do know what they are. They are habaneros, and they're a particularly hot type of chili pepper. I'm also not going to just eat a whole one. I'm going to use them for cooking. I'm not really brave enough to try to eat these by themselves.

I've also had these green and red chilis above, and they're very good on tacos. I've eaten these whole, and they're pretty good that way. I'm getting ready to do a little experimenting with the flavors of some of these. I don't know for sure yet what I'll make, but I know it will taste pretty good.

These are some of the things I took pictures of since my last post. I haven't been seeing many animals out right now, so I'll focus on some other interesting things. I've learned that not many animals seem to come out this time of month for some reason. But there are plenty of plants around. Maybe one of these times I'll let you know what I made with these chilis.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hoping For Cooler Days

I leave quite a bit of my property wild to encourage critters from all around to come over and say hi. I've seen quite a few birds attracted to these plants above.  I frequently see goldfinches flying away whenever I get close to these.

I thought I was going to go out today and get a lot of pictures, but we're having another heatwave here. It doesn't feel as hot to me as similar temperatures did back in Michigan, but the heat still get's to me pretty quickly. So I'm mostly staying inside for a few more days. It will cool down pretty quickly after tomorrow.

So I thought I would write a rambling post about this and a few other things. Maybe I'll go out later tonight and take some night pictures. I've never done that in the summertime. We'll see what happens. I often see rabbits and other animals out late at night.

I don't really do much advertising on any of my blogs because this is really all just for my own enjoyment. But I thought last week that I would try out adsense for Nature Center Magazine just to make enough money to breaqk even on the domain name.Unbelievably, they rejected the site because they say there is not enough text content. The site is almost all text!

So I decided maybe it was a mistake. The only problem is there is no way I can find to contact them for clarification. I decided maybe I'd try again on this site or Rat Tales, but then I found out I'm now being completely blocked. I guess that means the adsense people are telling me where to go. I hope they get there faster.

I'll try out some other sources of advertising when I get the time. I've never really done any unless somebody came to me with it. I've been interested to know how much I might make since Nature Center Magazine gets quite a bit of traffic now. Whatever.

I took this last picture because I liked the way the trees opened up. This was right above my house. The house is surrounded by three huge trees that give plenty of shade to keep most of the hottest days cool inside. I'm glad of that. And I'm even more glad for air conditioning.

How do any of you handle the heat? Do you stay inside, or do you like it enough to go out and have fun with it all day? I stick to the indoors on the hottest days because I get sick too easily. Hopefully the weather reports are right and it will cool off soon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grasshoppers And More Pictures

I have a brand new critter for you today. I don't exactly know the name of this big bug. It's one of those grasshopper type bugs that fly around for short distances. They actually look like butterflies when they're in flight. This one is about as long as my finger.

I saw this bug fly into the air from a place in front of my foot. I always watch them carefully to find out where they land. This one is the first one that I was ever able to find after it found a good place to land. It thought it had a good hiding place from me among the weeds, but I guess it was wrong this time.

The good thing about these weeds are that they're tall and skinny, so this one moved with the weight of this bug. I was able to see exactly where the bug landed. I've been searching through these weeds quite a bit because many animals seem to like hiding out in them. Birds, bugs, frogs, snakes, and even cats.

I'm going to have to do some more searching through these weeds for new critters in the next few days because I don't have any pictures to share right now. I didn't take any pictures either on my little break, so I've got some adventuring to do. I'm looking forward to that.

The good thing is that I don't really have to go very far to get pictures. I can either choose to stay here around home or go to a nearby nature park. That much nature can be a bit overwhelming for someone like me who lived most of his life in a city.

It's taking me a bit to get used to that kind of thing. It was wonderful when I first got here, and it stayed that way. But I soon discovered that there was so much nature I didn't know what to do with it. Now I'm finally beginning to sort things out just a bit. Now I'm off to get those pictures!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Out Of My Cocoon

It's hard for me to get started up again since I've been gone from here for so long. But it's finally time for me to be back. I said a long time ago that I wasn't happy with what I was writing here. I felt like it just wasn't me anymore. I felt like I had lost all of my creativity. So I took some time off until I finally really felt like I could do things right again.

It was kind of like a caterpillar going into a cocoon for a rest, and to grow, and coming out as a butterfly. I locked myself away from all things about blogging. I made one short little attempt to come back that still didn't feel right so I closed myself back off. I missed everything terribly, but I had to do it that way until I began to feel right again.

I never got tired of blogging, but I simply lost the things I wanted to say. When that happens, it's time to take a little break. But now that I'm writing this post, I feel a little rusty. That's actually the feeling I was hoping for because I'll be looking at things with a slightly new perspective now.

I also pulled myself away from nature for that time. I kept myself indoors, and did a bunch of geeky computer stuff. I wanted to pull myself completely away from the things I loved so I could appreciate them even more when I came back to them.

Finally, I looked up at my computer screen and felt that emptiness that comes from hours of playing meaningless video games and doing other solitary computer things. I used to love that stuff when I was younger, and I still do. But a person needs to exist in the real world as well. Nature is the ultimate real world.

Nature and being outside exploring is better than any meaningless video game. You can touch and feel nature and the world around you. Video games are just fine, but you never get that great feeling that reality can give you. And blogging urges me on to go out there and explore the real world around me.

Blogging is itself a wonderful extension of the real world, full of real people and friends from around the entire world. Part of the ultimate reality. You can't get that from a video game or some other solitary activity. Blogging about nature and similar things is what I love the most. I'm glad to be a part of that. And I'm glad to feel like I'm truly back.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Toad On My Porch

It's been awhile, but I'm back. And I brought a little friend with me! I found this big old fat toad on my porch a few nights ago. He was just sitting on the edge there relaxing. I happened to look down while I was letting the dog out on her chain, and I saw the fat toad sitting there.

I quickly shut the door and ran to get my camera. I have to tell you that he dog was highly disappointed that I didn't let her out quite yet. I was trying to protect this fat green morsel from her. She'll eat anything, even something she shouldn't, like this toad.

When I made it back outside with my camera, the toad was still waiting there for me. But you already figured that out, didn't you? I then took about a half dozen pictures before nudging the toad off the porch and away from the view of the dog. I tyhen let the dog out, and it was a happy ending for all.

Some of you know that we've been suffering from a terrible drought in my part of the country. Not only has it been too dry, but it's been much too hot as well. So I haven't really been going out much. The heatwave seems to finally be over now, so maybe I'll be able to get back to my little adventures.

I haven't really had much to write about because of all of these problems. I did get obsessed with a video game called Skyrim while I was inside hiding from the heat. I haven't played video games in years, but this one got me hooked. I won't say much more than that about it.

But now I'm back, at least most of the time, from this hypnotic game. And these fat old toads are everywhere around here. I saw another one hopping around in the vegetable garden the next day. I didn't get any pictures, but I got some pictures of some other interesting little creatures. Now I'm hoping to get caught back up with everything that is blogging in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Big Birds Flying Around

I had some excitement when I got into town here yesterday. there were turkey vultures and hawks flying around everywhere! Many of them were flying low where I was driving. I wish I would have had my camera along.I missed my opportunity at first.

But then when I got home I ran in the house and grabbed my camera. When I got back outside, the birds were a little farther away, but I was still able to get a few pictures. So I didn't lose out completely. I was lucky this time. I think I need to start carrying my camera with me again. I don't want to miss any more opportunities.

I remember a few years ago when I used to listen to the radio a lot while on my way back and forth to work, there used to be routine commercials for plays in Toronto. I don't usually care much for that kind of thing, but there were a few that I really thought would be good.

I remember thinking that I would wait and hope they would come a little closer to my home in Detroit. Well, that never happened. Later I felt like I could have kicked myself for passing up these opportunities. It wouldn't have taken long to go there and back, especially now that I know where to get flights to Toronto.

If only I had thought things through back then. I could have fond memories of those plays that I'll now never get to see. I live a little farther away now, so I don't hear the same radio commercials. But there is still the internet. The place must have a website. Maybe I'll take a look. Wouldn't that be fun to just pick up and go?

I just got my electricity fixed in my house. I had been sitting inside peacefully watching TV the other day when it all went out. It turned out that some fuses right on the electric pole blew! I had to have the whole box replaced. Now I'm back to being able to post here again, and I've been doing a lot.

I even have a new story up over at Rat Tales. It's been hard to write anything for my fiction site for awhile, but I finally have something for you. It's actually an older story of mine that I've revived. It's called Jack And The Magic Stick. It's a fairy tale of some sorts. You'd have to read it to see what I mean. I like it.

I hope to start catching up with some of my other blog stuff now that I can. I always miss this stuff when I'm gone for a few days.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flight Of The Dragonfly

I'm getting back outside once again to take more pictures of the nature around me. I've been cooped up in the house for far too long. Sometimes you need the taste of sweet freedom. Maybe this dragonfly has the right idea. It's resting on these 2x4s right now, but it can fly away anywhere it wants to go whenever it wants.

That's what I want to do right now. I want to go to faraway places and see strange and exotic things. That's what happens to a person who has been confined to one place for too long. You just want to get out and go. Maybe I'll take a long trip.

Sometimes you gotta just take a chance and do something that seems like it might be fun. For some it might be picking up and traveling to a far away place. I know of a place offering flights to Johannesburg if that's what you like to do. Seeing and doing new things is what makes life great.

I love the photo editing I've been doing, but that's no substitute for getting out and seeing things and experiencing life. What do you think? Are you in the mood to travel? Where would you go if you could go anywhere you want?

Oh, the picture above was taken from a pile of wood that I'll be burning in my wood stove next winter. You burn anything you can get around here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Cloudy To Bright

I've made my most dramatic photo edit so far with the pictures you see here today. You can see the original at the bottom of the post. The most obvious change is that I replaced the sky. It was a a dark and rainy day when I took the original picture, so I thought a change would be fun.

I also had to brighten up the photo just a bit. That was my subtle change in the picture. You may not even be able to notice that part. the horse has a little bit more definition to it now. I think the biggest thing I did though was to straighten out the grass just a bit.

Straightening the grass and the ground wasn't easy. there may be a better way than I used, but it's the first time I tried something like this. I think I did okay with it. Overall, the pictures I made aren't super realistic, but I like what I was able to do. They show the kinds of things that can be done with a free photo editor, such as Gimp.

Another thing I've been up to is having to deal with my crashing computer again. I've known the problem for awhile, a bad solid state hard drive, but I've been waiting to fix it until the next version of Windows comes out. Well, I couldn't wait any longer. My computer once again crashed so badly that I had to reinstall the whole operating system. I've had to do that several times in the past six months.

I finally switched to another hard drive to end my problems. But after all of my problems I decided to have a little fun. Instead of installing Windows 7 once again, I decided to install the release preview of the brand new Windows 8.

Some people will tell you that Windows 8 is too different from previous versions of Windows. It's true that it is a drastic change from older versions. They'll also tell you that Microsoft removed the start button. That's not true. the start button is still there in Windows 8, but they moved it to something called the charms bar.

For those of you who think all this computer talk is mostly gibberish, you're going to love this new, easier version of Windows when it comes out in October. It's easier to use than anything else you might have ever tried before. And Microsoft is offering very cheap upgrades to it for everyone who has a previous version of Windows installed already.

That was a long bit of nonsense for you to read, but I really do love talking computers. I'd start another blog about just that, but I already have my hands full with the blogs already have. Oh! You may recognize the picture above from one of my past posts. I like this picture of the horse, but it was fun messing around and changing it too.

And good news! I was able to get out a bit and get some decent nature pictures for my next few posts. My truck wasn't running well before, but the trusty garage down the road seems to have gotten it fixed pretty well this time. Maybe that will mean a return to more posts from me now. I can hope. Things are really looking brighter.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Fantasy Photo Editing

The big heatwave here is finally over. But I'm still staying close to home because my truck needs a little work done on it. That means I get to have a little more fun with my photo editing for awhile.

It wasn't too long ago that I visited Five Ridge Prairie Preserve and took this pictures. I always take a picture of the sign to mark my place on camera. I do that so I immediately know where my pictures were taken when I look at them in my archives. So these sign pictures are never intended to be special. I do try to make them at least okay though.

I decided to give this one a dark fantasy feel. I think it worked out pretty well. This area seems good for this kind of effect. I've been changing a lot of my pictures just to see what I can do with them. I always keep the originals though.some of those pictures started out very good.

I've been learning a few things through all this editing. I've also learned to make subtle changes to bring out the reality of a scene a little better than the original pictures captured. I haven't done that here today. I wanted to show off my fantasy scene here. This second photo is the original.

I've also been learning a little more about photography and what pictures to take. I'm learning how to shoot at different angles and from odd places to get something more creative and special. That way I won't need very much special editing. I'll still do some crazy stuff just fore fun though.

I do have some more interesting edits I'll be sharing soon though. I have a few pictures that definitely needed changing and fixing. Sometimes a gloomy day just isn't a good time to take pictures, but it can be fixed up later. You'll see.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A New Sky

I've been doing some more photo editing because it's been a little too hot around here for me to get out lately. I still get dizzy much too easily, and the heat doesn't help that at all. So I've had a lot of time to work on my photo editing, and I like what I've been able to do.

The picture above is the result of a few changes. I first brightened it up and deepened the features of the land a little bit. This made the place look like it really did while I was there taking the pictures.

But the big edit was the sky. I took out the original sky and replaced it with a new one. This new sky makes the picture really stand out now. You can see the original picture with the original sky below. It really only took a few small steps to change this once I learned how.

Now we have the original picture. It really looks kind of barren and dull after seeing the fixed up version, doesn't it? I didn't make a work of art or anything, but I think I improved it a little bit. I've been learning how to replace many things in my pictures, including whole people. It's been fun.

It really has been fun trying to see just what I can change in my pictures, and it gives a whole new life to my large archive. You might want to try a little photo editing if you ever get the time.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Isabella's Dream

This is Isabella. She is an unlikely cross between a Great Dane, a Beagle, and some other sort of dog. Many of you have already seen her or seen me mention her from time to time. But Isabella needs your help.

You see, Isabella is in the terrible predicament of being a poor dog with a rich dog's taste. So what she needs from you is $1,000,000 in American cash. Don't worry though, it's for very unselfish reasons. She wants to have a golden dog house built for her. And she wants to eat the finest steaks money can buy.

Up until now poor old Isabella has had to live in just a normal dog hose and a nicely cushioned cage. She likes the cage the most because it's inside the house. But that golden dog house sure would come in handy, especially since she isn't allowed up on the furniture.

Isabella has this dream of being an example for all other privileged dogs. Why shouldn't she have only the finest things? After all, shouldn't her rubber chicken toy make real clucking sounds? And she should also have a bacon scented ball. That would be a lovely little perk for a dog of such royalty.

She has promised to stop chasing every bird, cat, car, and squirrel she sees if she gets what she wants. I think that won't last very long though. She has also promised to stop breaking every collar that is bought for her if she finally gets that super deluxe model that she's been waiting for.
But right now poor Isabella is a sad sad dog because nobody has yet been generous enough to dig a million in change out of the bottom of their pocket so she can finally be happy. I've tried to tell her not to hold her breath, but she never listens to me anyway.

And besides, who am I to tell her no? I also have to admit that I wouldn't be all that upset if a million bucks found its way to this household. It might be fun, really. And I guess everyone has to have a dream, even dogs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Newest Passion

I have a new passion. Of course that doesn't mean my passion for nature has lessened. My new passion compliments and enhances my passion for nature. What I have found and am enjoying so much is photo editing. The best part is that it inspires me to take the best nature pictures I can.

You've already seen some of my work in many of my other posts. I can't say that I'm great at it yet, but I'm improving. Maybe one day my stuff will be beautiful. For now I'm trying out many different little techniques.

For instance, with the picture above I tried to get a bit of a fantasy feel. I always liked the original picture, but I always imagined the scene closer to what I did with it now. Now I see it with magical creatures hiding behind every tree and bush. click on it to make it larger if you like.

The picture above is the original photo. you can see that it was a nice enough scene when I took it. I imagined it as a look into a secret fantasy world. The problem is that, like so many other good photographs I've taken, it fell just a bit short of that in my eyes. I wanted a way to capture what my imagination saw.

Have you ever had a dream of being in a far off place or maybe a fantasy land?  I think of things like that all the time. That's why I like to edit these pictures. Some of you may like to travel. A few of you may even pick up and move to your ideal place in the world. There are Apartments for sale In Turkey if that's your kind of thing.

I like different environments and times of day too. For example, I took this picture above right before a huge thunderstorm. I've always thought that it was a beautiful picture. The quality of light was special when I took the picture. The camera was able to capture that just a little too.

Honestly, after looking at the picture after resizing it for the blog, I think I like this upper one every bit as much as I like it after I did my edit. The full size picture I edited showed a more noticeable improvement. I guess that's the price I gotta pay when I'm trying to save space for this blog.

Now here's the picture after I did a little bit of editing. This technique works really well on pictures of people. I learned this one on a Gimp message board. It makes pictures look similar to the super sharp pictures that National Geographic has. When I used it on this picture, it made it so clear that I felt almost as if I could walk right into the picture.

That's about it for my talk of editing pictures this time. I haven't given up any of my other passions for this. And who knows? Maybe I'll get bored with doing a lot of this as time goes on. But maybe I'll get much better. It's just something fun to do while I'm home.

I'll be back next time with something of which I have no idea yet. How's that for an ending?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scenes From Broken Kettle Grasslands

In my last post I promised to share some scenery from Broken Kettle Grasslands with you. I also told you that I had a little negative part of this adventure to tell you, but let's get into that part towards the end. I just really would like to show you these pictures of this beautiful place.

The benches in the picture above are just a short way past an entranceway through the fence that keeps the buffalo in here. The rest of the fence is electrified. The buffalo aren't really confined because it's almost as big inside as it is outside. This place stretches out for miles. That's why I never saw any buffaloes.

I must admit that I altered these pictures in my new favorite photo editor though. But really all I did was fix the light levels so that you could see the sign better. You can see by the shadow that I was pointed in the wrong direction for the Sun.

The first thing I thought when I got here was that this place is a paradise. Seeing all this with your own eyes can be breathtaking. It popped into my mind that it would just be wonderful to live in a place like this, and then I remembered that I do! I really do! I only live a few miles from here.

I'm sure there are similar places for those of you in other parts of the world though. I've seen pictures of Ireland that look very similar. I often wonder if that's why my family settled here. I've recently seen pictures from Turkey that look similar to this. If you're interested, I know where you can get prices on Altinkum Property there. It's worth a quick look.

Me? I'm happy right here in Iowa. I've found my paradise. Yours may look similar or it may look different. I do have to say though that I prefer a few more trees than you see here. There are a lot more trees up the road where I live. I love being in a forest.

Oh wait! I was going to tell you about something that happened here that I didn't like. When I got home I felt something creepy crawly on my leg. I had to take my pants off to get to whatever it was.

It turned out to be a tick! Altogether, I found three of the nasty little parasites crawling on me. I had to do a thorough check of myself and the dog. The dog didn't get any this time, luckily for her. And they didn't get to sink their chops into me, so we were both lucky. I must have just stepped in the wrong spot. It's the kind of thing that happens when you are outside in a wild place.

I got some great pictures out of the deal though. Like I said, this place is what I think of as paradise. These rolling hills full of green green grass where the buffalo roam. Occasional sanctuaries full of trees. A stream running through it all. That's heaven. What does your paradise look like?