Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Green Heron

Obviously I am back in bird photography mode again, because I was pretty excited about my most recent photo of a green heron.  It was actually my only decent one of the day, probably because the light wasn't great, and bird photography is pretty unpredictable anyway.  The first time I  saw a green heron I thought it might be a duck that liked trees.  It was in a tree, the size of a duck, and I had never seen anything like it.  Of course, sans my photography hobby, I probably would not have noticed it.  Why is it called green instead of maroon or blue?  Well there is already a blue heron that is quite a bit bigger and blue all over.  Maroon would seem more apt to me than green.    There are bits of green around the eyes of a green heron.  I guess that must be it! 

So what are the lessons learned from this photo?  Let's just start a list.

1.  Always take your camera with you.  You never know when a green heron might appear in front of your eyes.

2.  It is helpful to always have a camera card in your camera.  I cannot count the times that I have specifically gone out with my camera, and no camera card.  Finally I decided I would have to remember to keep an extra small card in my bag, for those emergency situations.  That worked great until the inevitable time that I had neither a camera card in the camera, nor an extra camera card.  Oh, yes, that was yesterday, when I saw the green heron.  I had to resort to the small internal memory.  It was full of course, from past times when I have done the same thing.  Rather than try to figure out if there was anything worthwhile on my internal memory, I just cleared it all out.  There would only be single shots today, as only about ten photos fit on the internal memory.

3.  It helps to be very patient and slightly geeky when doing photography, for those inevitable times when you have to take photos on the internal drive of the camera.  I always transfer photos to the computer using the camera card;  I have completely lost the direct hookup capability.  The Panasonic Manual is about 200 pages, not printed out, and has no table of contents on how to move internal memory photos to the card.  I knew it was possible.  I had actually done this in the past.  Time for the geeky Google search.  After about four false starts I finally found some photography blog where someone had asked the same question, and the blog person pointed to the actual page number in the instruction manual (page 182, in this case).  I had read other blogs but I needed the actual instructions to figure out how to do this.  The patience part is that this whole process was that, for one photo, this took forty five minutes.  Was it worth it?  What choice did I have?    If you ever have a photography question, do a Google search, and you will get a lot of answers, some conflicting.  Go with the majority.

4.  Sometimes there is just too much of one color in a photo--irony that this was green in a green heron photo.  Here is the original photo, before post processing.  This is straight out of the internal memory box--

Generally it is not a good idea to start messing around with colors in bird photography.  I mean, you wouldn't generally want to end up with a purple cardinal, for instance.  It was quite helpful that the green heron has very little green in it, and the green that is there is more yellow.  Audubon Lake is kind of a muddy green, and you can get a bit too much of that combined with the green grass.  Since it is a shallow lake with little flow to it, unattractive debris accumulates on top of the water.  It looks a bit better by adding some  noise reduction (luminance).  Luminance is also good for beautifying skin in portrait photography.  It's better than Botox.

So the green heron taught me, or reminded me, of quite a few photography lessons.  I know, I know, if I transferred photos from my camera to the computer directly, I would not have an issue with not having camera cards when I needed them.  But some old habits are just hard to change.

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