Transformation

This morning I was thinking about a photo I recently printed to frame. It was a photo I captured while in the mountains near Ellijay after the Apple Festival last year. I was there with my friend, Dawn, and our lovely teenage children. We drove around exploring backroads and arguing with Daisy (that’s the GPS by the way) about where we wanted to go, because we didn’t have any reason to worry about getting lost as long as she could get us back home.

Well, in the course of exploring, we stumbled upon a little trail up on a mountain just outside of town, and we parked the car at the foot of the trail and headed up. It was a short trail, and the view that evening was amazing. As we neared the peak of this little mountain we were on, I looked out over the valley and toward the peaks of the other mountains, and I noticed a tree that stood on the ledge of a nearby peak. It was silhouetted against the setting sun with the clouds and mountains in the background. It was the image of serenity, and it reminded me of the oriental paintings I adore with the tree silhouettes and calming colors.

This outing took place before I purchased my Nikon D3200, so I went armed with my perfect little purple Canon Powershot ELPH-310. This is now my daughter’s camera, and she is learning all of its ins and outs as she aspires to creative greatness. Anyway, I framed my shot and snapped.

When I downloaded the pictures, this one just didn’t quite look the way I wanted it to look. I was using Picasa to edit, and though Picasa is a great free editing software, it just wasn’t doing the trick. Well, a few days ago, I was going through my photos looking for some to print and frame. As I got to these photos, I realized that I didn’t have Adobe Lightroom 5 when I edited them, so I decided to run them through Lightroom and see what I could do with them.

I adjusted the contrast in a few of them and played around with the lighting a bit. With a little sharpening and color saturation, I was able to brighten them up a bit and enhance the color. There’s not a huge difference, but enough of a difference to make the photos more pleasing to my eye.

 Before:

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After:

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 Before:

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After:

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 Before:

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After:

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 And with a few of them, I added a bit of artistic flare to create the painting in my mind that I would have put on canvas had I known how to paint. And on this day, I was feeling a little purple, so this is what happened.

 Before:

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After:

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 I just love the ability to edit my photos and transform them into what I see in my mind. And I must say, I was very surprised at the quality of photos I was able to capture with that little Canon point-and-shoot, so don’t fret if you don’t have a great expensive camera. Have fun with what you have and share your vision. In fact, that last photo is about to become the main attraction of my next collection.

(If you want to know more about feeling purple, check out my blog post at http://chasingbutterfliesinmyhead.wordpress.com entitled “I Feel Purple” on December 7, 2014.)

Winter Birds

Winter is upon us. How do I know this? Well, from the influx of little winter birds of course! My Daddy always called them snowbirds, and since he called them snowbirds, I naturally thought that there appearance meant there would be snow soon. Much to my dismay, their appearance did not always bring snow. Living in the south, we look for every sign we can that snow will be coming soon, because we don’t get it very often…but I digress, so let’s get back to the snowbirds.

I realized last year that I couldn’t keep calling these little guys snowbirds, especially considering there were several different species hopping around the yard. Therefore, I got out my handy dandy field guide and perused its depths looking for my little birds. I picked this guide up at a gift shop at a state park within the last year, and it has become an indispensable part of my hiking and photography repertoire. With my handy dandy field guide and internet access, I was able to identify the most common winter bird that my daddy referred to as a snowbird.

The Dark-Eyed Junco

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He’s a wonderful little bird and a sure sign that winter has arrived. This little guy flies right in with the cold it seems. And on Thanksgiving Day, several of these fat, fluffy little guys were hopping around in my butterfly bushes.

Who would have ever thought that butterfly bushes would attract birds? But they do. These bushes attract all of the smallest little chippers into their spidery branches. Apparently the twisting and weaving branches of this bush provide a safe haven for small birds, as it is quite difficult to see into their branches. Also, the branches are very small in diameter, which is perfect for little feet to wrap around.

It had rained on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and the rain had collected in some holes the dogs had dug underneath the bushes forming two perfect little bird baths. As I sat at the kitchen table listening to Mama talk, I started to notice the birds gathering to drink and bathe. (My cat, Butterscotch, noticed them too. He sat in eager anticipation, just hoping somehow the window would disappear, and he could spring on the unsuspecting little feather dusters.) Their little chips and chirps caught my attention, and I began to watch them. They would flit down to the little puddles, take a drink, splish and splash a little to rinse their feathers, and then flit back up to a branch to preen. I was captivated. I grabbed my camera and began taking pictures of these little cuties. I only managed a handful of good shots, but I will share the ones I got.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Carolina Wren

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Tufted Titmouse

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Carolina Chickadee

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When they began to disperse, I filled the feeders with food hoping to bring them back. They have been feeding at the feeders ever since. In fact, they are enjoying their breakfast as I type.