Tag Archives: Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Applying Textures to Photographs

It’s not a new technique. Layering textures on photos has been around for a long time. It’s an interesting effect that can take a documentary style photo and turn into a piece of fine art. The process isn’t too difficult. You’ll need some kind of image processing software… Photo Shop, Elements, Paint Shop or others. The software needs to be capable of working with layers. Open the image you want to work with. You’ll then open an image of the texture you want to apply. (Choosing the right texture for an image is the real art to the entire process). Place the texture on top of your photo as a layer. Adjust the opacity of the texture layer so the photo below it shows through. Your taste, goals and artistic vision will play a role in how much opacity you want. You may want to use an eraser tool to reduce or remove the amount of texture over key areas of your subject such as the face, eyes, etc. Once you’re satisfied flatten the image. At this point I find the image usually lacks a bit of “pop”… seems a bit flat and boring. I like to create a duplicate layer and select a mode such as “soft light” or “overlay.” Then, if necessary I adjust the opacity of this layer as needed to get the look I want. It’s really that simple. Below are a few photos I worked up recently using the process described.

Overlaying a texture on a photography can have a dramatic affect on it's look and feel.

Applying textures to photography to create digital art is a simple process.

Photograph of a wild horse with a texture applied.

Posted in Banker Horses, Education, General Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Wild Horses, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wild Horses in Black & White

Lately I’ve really been enjoying doing intimate crops of the wild horses. I especially find myself trying to make the eye the primary focus of the photo. Of course, in this case,” close-up” may be a good term for the image but it certainly isn’t accurate about how the photo was made. By using a “super-telephoto” lens it’s possible to make intimate portraits of these beautiful animals without getting too close to the horse.

I’ve also found my love for black & white imagery reinvigorated recently. Years before the digital photography age I had a love affair with black & white film. Grain, the noise of the film days, was considered a nice artistic addition to a good mono-tone photo. One of the nice things about digital photography is that every image can be both a black & white photo and a color shot. It’s all done in post processing. If you look at a number of different photographer’s work in black & white of similar subjects you’ll notice there will be differences. Some subtle. Some extreme. It’s simply a matter of the photographers expressing their artistic tastes. Here are my most recent takes on black & white equine fine art photography.

An intimate portrait of a wild horse.

Wild horse of the Carolina coast.

North Carolina wild horse in black & white

Detail shot of a wild mustang in black & white.

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One More Shorebird – a Willet

It’s a rainy morning along the coast of North Carolina. I supposed I could suck it up and head out to try and make some images anyway, but I’m going to wimp out and stay inside instead! While raining days can make for some great photographic opportunities… and the dampness can help quiet your movements in the forest… I’m simply not in the mood to deal with rain today Instead I think I’ll share a few photos from an outing a few days ago, then work on a bit of marketing. Nice “high and dry” activities.

Today’s image offerings are of a Willet taken within the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. As is often the case with my shorebird photographs, I took these images from my kayak. I like using the kayak for making these kinds of photographs because the birds are sometimes more tolerant of an approach from the water.

Willet at the mouth of Deep Creek and Taylors Creek, Beaufort, North Carolina

A classic Willet pose, one of the more common shorebirds found along the North Carolina coast.
Willet, Crystal Coast North Carolina.

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Greater Yellowlegs

I enjoy finding these birds when I’m out doing shorebird photography from kayak. One of the larger shorebirds, these are migrants. They travel to Canada for breeding in the Spring then winter in warmer climates… including the North Carolina coast. A somewhat similar looking and named bird, the Lesser Yellowlegs, is difficult to tell apart unless you find them together. The Greater is larger, has a slightly upturned bill that tends to be blue-gray near its base.

For shorebird photography I like to work from my kayak. Even though I’m approaching from the water, these birds can be a little skittish… ok, most shore birds can be a bit skittish… so a slow, careful approach is called for. The best bet is if you can let the wind and/or current drift you into camera range. If you need to paddle you need to keep the paddle movement to a minimum. Don’t make a direct approach of the bird is bound to take to wing.

Making photographs of small shorebirds from a kayak requires a long lens and hand holding rather than using a nice, sturdy tripod. The combination of a telephoto lens and hand holding the camera sets up a bit of risk of camera shake and motion blur. The trick is to keep the shutter speed fast to minimize the effects of this problem.

Greater Yellowlegs at Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve.

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Posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Natural History in the Carolinas, Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Jonathan Livingston I Presume?

Perhaps the most often over looked bird by avian photographers, it seems the lowly seagull simply gets no respect. Considering “locals” use terms like “sky rats” to describe them I suppose it’s little wonder that we don’t bother pointing our lenses at them if there’s anything else around to photograph. Still, tourist find the fascinating. And really, who didn’t crack a smile during the movie “Finding Nemo” when all the gulls were chanting “mine… mine… mine?” Frankly I think these birds get a bit of a bad rap. They can make for interesting photographic subjects. So without further excuse or apology, here are a couple photos of a young laughing gull. I do hope you enjoy it.

A Young Laughing Gull on a Perch

Laughing gull along the Noth Carolina coast.

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Belted Kingfisher

Anyone that’s picked-up a camera equipped with a long telephoto lens to pursue making images of shore birds probably has a few stories to tell about their encounters with Belted Kingfishers. These handsome little birds are small, fast and ever so camera shy. For many avian photographers they are considered a “nemesis species,” a bird that’s really tough to get in front of the lens. I’ll readily confess that my success with these little guys is less than great. Count me among those that have been heard saying, “any photo of a Belted Kingfisher is a good photo of a Belted Kingfisher.” I got lucky this morning and managed to get within camera range in my kayak and squeeze off a few snaps of the shutter before my subject took to wing. Are these the best photos of a Kingfisher I’ve seen? Not by a long shot. But hey, they’re Kingfisher photos… so they’re good, right?

Belted Kingfisher at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Rerserve, Beaufort, NC

Belted Kingfisher with Little Blue Heron in the background.

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Portraits of Crystal Coast Wild Horses

In a lot of my wild horse photographs I choose to frame the animals loosely and to include a nice look at the environment in which they live. This gives the viewer and opportunity to better understand where these animals live and the challenges they face to survive. However I also like to frame tightly from time to time… to make more intimate portraits of these interesting animals. Closer examinations of the horses reveals their curiosity and their personalities. Hopefully such images provides the viewer with a little insight into why I find these creatures such interesting subjects and what motivates me to keep coming back to visit them again and again.

Portrait of a wild horse.

Wild horse in black & white

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Wild Horses in Motion

There are few things as beautiful and graceful as a horse in motion. Expressing that motion in a photograph can be a little tricky. You can choose to pan along with the motion, blurring the background behind the animal. Sometimes the motion will be apparent, especially with an animal like a horse that has a flowing mane. Another though less used option is to allow some motion blur in the subject. Many modern viewers will not appreciate an image in which the subject is blurred. But I think it can add a feeling of great energy and motion. Take a look through this series of images and decide for yourself.

Wild horse in motion.

A wild stallion chases away a rival horse.

Sometimes a little motion blur can add a feeling of energy to a photo.

black prints

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Early Morning, Early Fall, Wild Horses

I made a trip over to the reserve this morning to visit and photograph the wild horses. There was just the slightest hint of autumn coolness in the air. Certainly not cold nor crisp, but there was a hint of what autumn will soon be bringing to the coast. Here are a few quick work-ups from the morning. I had noticed a patch or two of fog on the drive into Beaufort but I was out of luck for any hopes of having some moody fog for my photos.

When I first arrived the majority of the horses were grouped together around the main watering hole, as if often the case in the early morning. But I didn’t have to wait too long until a few of the animals started to meander out onto the flats for some breakfast. I positioned myself to get the sun angle I wanted and to insure an uncluttered background. My concern about the sun position soon disappeared as some clouds moved in a provided in soft, even lighting.

Wild horse on the Carolina coast.

Two amigos: Wild horses on the Carolina Coast

North Carolina wild horse

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Monday Morning You Sure Looked Fine

I rolled out of bed and headed over to the Reserve for some wild horse photography Monday morning. It was a nice morning but sure got hot and humid quick. Here are a few shots from the morning.

Wild Horse head shot.

Wild horse on the Crystal Coast.

Wild horse feeding on the tidal flats of the Outer Banks

North Carolina wild mustang

Would you like to take wild horse photos like these? Find out how here.

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