Seattle,WA – April 3, 2018 – Ron Boyd Design today announced new augmented reality features in three of his photography related applications. With the introduction of Apple’s version 11.3 mobile operating system comes the ability to virtually place objects on vertical surfaces like walls. The new technology allows users to view art and photographs in a variety of sizes and frames mounted on their own walls before going to the great expense of printing and purchasing products. With the Wildlife and Nature Pictures application owners that are considering a purchase of a digital download of an image can preview what the image looks like as a framed print in their own home or office. Image editors Get It Straight and Canvas Art allow users to see their own masterpieces with AR. When viewing images with AR, users have the option of three frame styles, light colored oak, cherry wood, or dark walnut, with the choice of no frame, thin, regular, and thick frame styles. Users can also choose from five different overall picture sizes to get an accurate feel for what large prints would look like mounted on a wall.
You can download a copy of the apps at the link below.
A quick note to let everyone know that testing is going well for the inclusion of augmented reality for three of my applications. I have a few screenshots to share. Please allow me to apologize in advance for the quality. It turns out making the screenshots is more difficult than I had expected. Rest assured that it looks much better on your actual iPhone or iPad.
You can learn more and download my apps at the link below.
Version 3.1 of Nature & Wildlife Pictures is now available with many new images and performance improvements. NWP is a free download with most of the 60 downloadable images available at no additional cost including the one at the top of this post. There are also additional images available for sale.
Among the other improvements the app now allows image purchases on both the phone and iPad and the entire process is more robust and informative to the user. Previously purchased images are now shaded in green on both the phone and iPad and allows users to easily restore purchases they have already paid. This version is also translated into Spanish and shows local currency rates for all countries.
Nature & Wildlife Pictures is a free download for all users so if you enjoy the pictures you see on this blog you will love the application.
Every man woman and child who has ever tried to photograph birds has probably more than once fallen prey to the ruse. The old Giant Bird over the shoulder trick. Well, ok maybe not a real ruse we all know birds are not sophisticated enough to perform a ruse, or are they but time after time we have all fallen for that shadow of the giant bird shadow streaking across the scene. Our human nature emotion of the grass is greener on the other side of the hill makes us believe that just outside of your field of view is the largest, slowest flying bird in the history of flying birds, yet overtime we react and look for said bird it turns out to be a waste of time. After thousands of failed attempts I have almost become oblivious to shadows. It really is important to set up with a plan of action and to stick to it. Yes, you do need to be able to react to developing bird movement very quickly but it still has to fall within the parameters of making a useable image. Swinging around 180 degrees to capture a bird that may or may not be flying behind you does not fall into those parameters. The chances that it ever will are so slim that one should consider it an exercise in futility and avoid it all together. My recommendation is to make every effort to ignore both shadows and stray noises that may come from behind you but don’t feel bad if you do, everybody does. Just know that you are disrupting your workflow. On the other side of that though I think it is a good idea to note that usually I set aside some time, every time I go out, to just look around without any intention of making images and during those time I will watch shadows and look for patterns of flight etc.
Hey folks-Don’t forget if you have an iPad you can download my app and for a limited time all the images are available for free.
Just when you think you are at the top of your game when it comes to Photoshop, this guy gets completely blown out of the water.
OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I did feel high and dry, let me explain. One of my favorite shows on the internet is Photoshop User TV on Kelby One. The show rotates through the staff as hosts for the show and every episode has at least two Photoshop or Lightroom tutorials. The other day I was catching up on some shows when what comes along is the “Puppet Warp” tool and birds and I am blown away because I could have used it about a million times the last couple of years.
First, let me point out a very cool tip in making a selection around a bird. If you follow this blog regular you will know that digitally separating the subject from the background is an important part of my workflow and making a selection around a bird can be a time-consuming process in Photoshop. Rather than making a fine grain selection you can also make a very loose selection around the bird with the Lasso tool and then grab the Magic Wand (aka Tragic Wand) tool, hold down the option/alt key and the selection will snap to a tight fit around your bird, then go to Selection>Modify to expand, contract, or feather your selection. Given enough contrast it works really well but the real magic is in the Puppet Warp tool. Once you have made your selection put it on its own layer in most cases, and then go to Edit>Puppet Warp. There you will create a fine grain mesh containing the bird where you will create anchor points to manipulate body parts without harming other pixels. This is the perfect solution for moving a wing ever so slightly or changing beak position to that perfect point.
I highly recommend watching Photoshop User. You can catch the episode here.
Also, if you are not taking advantage of it now Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are available as a package for $9.99Mo.
Today is another excerpt from text that I am writing about the importance of shutter speed, also known as exposure time, in bird photography. This time I write about the range of 1/250 to 1/500 sec.
The light is coming up and you just entered the point when you can do pretty much anything you want with the camera and can still maintain a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 sec. Congratulations, you have just entered the promised land. Many bird shooters may disagree with the notion but the range of exposure time between 1/250sec an about 1/500sec is the best place to be. You most likely would disagree if you were using a very long lens between 600mm-800mm, or making a lot of birds in flight images. Granted it is easier to shoot at the higher speeds but not essential. With good support and stabilization you can get nice sharp images in this range.
Generally the time of day associated with these slower shutter speed ranges has a softer light, one that will be more flattering to your subject in all ways. If you are in close making portraits you can actually stop down a little bit and let me tell you that even with a 300mm lens at a range of ten or twenty feet you will want to stoop down. If you have the luxury of shooting a lens as fast as f2.8 and are making a small bird portrait wide open you would be struggling to get both the eyes and feet in focus. That is usually a depth of field around a quarter of an inch or less. Because the goal is to get as close as possible the depth of field is going to be very shallow depending on your success, so you are actually punished for achieving the impossible unless of course you have the where-with-all and the ability to stop down to just where you need it.
If it is morning, the birds are waking up and beginning to become active. Like all living creatures birds wake up at varying speeds and there are ones that are sluggish often making great subjects. In the evening birds are looking for that last meal before hunkering down and you will undoubtedly notice a large increase in activity.
Here is the kicker that makes this shooting range the most wonderful time of the day, it is flash. Most likely you are at the upper limit of being able to use a speed light without taxing the gear to the point of not being all that helpful. In a nutshell, most speed lights max out around 1/250sec for syncing to the shutter, some go a little higher and some of the better ones have a hi-speed mode. Hi-speed is simply a series of flash pulses over a longer timeframe hoping to catch the shutter opening rather than actually syncing with the shutter. It is hard on the system and does not work all that well so I avoid it. Using a regular sync speed, adding some flash can work wonders to your bird photography. It is very important for hummingbirds but for other birds it will often be that finishing touch. Adding that extra light will soften harsh shadows and create a better edge contrast and freezes the micro movements all which helps the image to appear sharper. You are best served to use your flash as a fill light so back off on the intensity with at least -1 stop of compensation and add an extender if you are using a long lens.
If you compare today’s photo with the one from last week you will see there is very little difference yet it changes the photograph a lot. I like both of them but both have challenges to process. I have already done a lot about processing photos so I won’t say much about that today, rather lets take a look at the stats about making those photographs. I will call it “the series”. For me the series is a number of photographs I make having set up on one bird in one place. As I move around, in and out and different angles and aspects, it is all part of the series. So this series was 24 images and about 7 minutes in duration. Short by my standards, there are times when a series can be hundreds of images lasting for more than an hour. After a few months it can be hard to put the details into proper context and the series mindset helps organize things. For example, in this series the bird may have flown off or I might have moved on to a more promising scene as it looks as though the light was getting harsh. To help preserve the context of the moment you might consider not deleting all of those forgettable images, you know like the empty perch or the out of focus back half of the bird as these will often jog your memory of the events. In this case it was a combination of things that made me pull up the sticks, I was a little further away than I wanted to be, angle to the sun was off a bit, the sunlight was becoming harsh, and there were other Eagles in the vicinity. By the way, if anyone gets clued in to the EXIF data for these images you can note that the timestamp is incorrect. I really don’t concern myself with the time of capture, date is important but with time zone changes and all that I just don’t rely on a time stamp at all.
Like I said, I like both photos, last weeks was nice because it had some action, the old head throw as this Eagle was chatting up a storm. It is a little awkward though, the angle is a bit off in relation to the sunlight and it casts a harsh shadow across the head. Today’s photo is nice too, it is the iconic Eagle pose with an almost perfect (best possible) angle to the sun. As you can see though, just a couple of minutes further along, the sunlight on this bird is getting really harsh, just short of being unusable.
So that is just a little glimpse of what happens behind the scenes, super exciting right!
You can keep up with all the action by following me on twitter @RonBoyd
Just a quick mention today guys. Thought for the day, just as in real estate, in bird photography it is all about location, location, location. Go find your location.
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Not once in my entire life has anyone who wanted to purchase a bird photo say ” I really love the photo but if that branch was not there I would buy it”. Maybe I should say that no one who ever bought a photo of mine said that about an other photo of mine. Of course we all have our critics but critics are just that, and they don’t pay the bills. I used to know a person who fancied himself as a knowledgable photography person. He told me that just because I could photograph birds I was in no way qualified to photograph product. He also said almost the same thing about the best commercial photographer I have ever known. I recall once he said my photos have “drama” and that was no good. Really! FYI-to the whole world. It takes a whole gang of skill and commitment to become an accomplished bird photographer, Light is light and it doesn’t change just because you are shooting shiny objects. He was under the impression that he could do better himself but never actually tried. It didn’t take long to realize that guy is a complete tool! As much as I can sympathize with having contempt for such people there is no value in trying to prove them wrong and really no need. Those folk already have a large “L” branded on their foreheads for the world to see. Run, don’t walk away from them because their only real accomplishment is to suck the oxygen out of the room.
I think it fair to say that almost all people have no interest in seeing your bird images. It can be easy to get caught up in the genre, but we live on a big blue marble and the simple fact is that 99% of the population just does not care. I show my work now more than ever and I can say that it is important to figure out in the first minute or two if the viewer has any interest. Most people try to be nice but you won’t hold their attention for long, the “Tools” always respond, that is how they draw you in.
I guess what I am trying to say with this long-winded intro is that all the manipulation you do to an image like cleaning up branches and twigs usually boils down to personal satisfaction, so do what makes you happy. If it is a pain to do extensive cleanup, don’t bother, it is doubtful it will make a big difference to anyone but yourself. If you are like me you will spend the extra time. You can also do what I did with the photo above, get rid of all the damn branches, and call it art!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back soon. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @RonBoyd.