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zackiedawg

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  • Location
    Boca Raton, Florida
  • Interests
    Cruising, boating, driving, computers, hockey, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Europe, Canada, Alaska

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  1. With those examples, I think Gigapixel has a chance of pulling out some additional sharpness and possibly rebuilding some detail - by significantly enlarging, then cropping and resizing, you'll end up with better details and a larger overall image. Topaz's sharpen tool could help a bit with one of your examples (#10) which shows some motion blur. The examples you posted are the types where I've seen some nice results using Gigapixel - you might try it out just for fun - all of Topaz's tools give you a full function 30 day free trial...click on that and run a few through to see. I'd probably try running them at 4x to 6x enlargement, and try both the 'standard' and the 'low resolution' methods in Gigapixel. And a tip - I'd do any brightening, shadow boost, and color adjustments first on the original uncropped photo, then crop tight to how big you'd want the bird in the frame, and run THAT through Gigapixel.
  2. Got out this Saturday to the local wetlands - hot as usual. I decided to bring the slightly lighter and smaller 100-400mm lens rather than the monster 200-600mm lens - and because this lens focuses closer and because it's easier to swing around for in-flight shots, I decided to concentrate on more bugs this session, not just birds...especially the fun challenge of capturing closeups of dragonflies in flight: Eastern pondhawk dragonflies in flight: A glossy ibis, showing how the iridescent brown feathers show other colors in sunlight, giving them their name: Grasshopper: Tiny little bird - almost hummingbird sized - the blue-grey gnatcatcher: Large wading birds generally don't put their bodies in the water - taking advantage of their long legs to stay above the surface - other than quick dunks to bathe. This little blue heron apparently decided the heat was a bit much, and dropped down into the water up to its neck - and stayed there for a good 5 minutes just enjoying the cool soak: A green heron stalking its way across a low branch over the water, repositioning for a new fishing spot: The paper wasps are back - busy building their thick paper-like nests on all the pond apple trees over the water, laying their eggs and sealing things up. Best not to disturb them much, as their stings HURT:
  3. An early start to the weekly threads for me - I usually don't get to post until after the weekend, but with Monday being a holiday, I popped by the wetlands for a few hours to see what was there: Pileated woodpecker - the largest in North America: Yellow-throated warbler: Pied-billed grebe mom with a fish, handing it off to her chick: A closeup look at the pied-billed grebe chick: Green iguana coming down a tree branch, waiting for the guy with the camera to get out of the way: When I got home on that very hot, sweaty day, I jumped in my pool to cool off - I brought the camera out there with me to shoot any interesting backyard critters that happened by. This female northern cardinal popped up on a planter to see if I'd brought any seed to the feeders: I have a pair of resident northern curly-tailed lizards living under my jacuzzi - big, chunky lizards that love to eat any bugs that land on the deck, including the ones I flick to them from the pool. They recently had a batch of babies, and the little ones were out learning how to catch bugs on their own:
  4. It's always funny for me to hear rain totals that cause flooding in some places - 1 or 2 inches and things are impassable! When I lived in California, 1 inch of rain could create mudslides and flood roads and the L.A. River system. Living in Florida, where rain is a near daily occurrence all summer long, 2-3 inches of rain is pretty much normal. we see some flooding if we get stupid rain - last time we had noticeable flooding enough to block roads and flood cars in parking lots, we had 8 inches of rain fall in just 35 minutes. Even then, an hour later all the waters were gone. Just in the last 27 years or so since I moved from California, our highest daily rain total was over 11 inches. It's quite tropical down here. And this past Saturday, I managed to run out to the wetlands in between the morning rainstorms and the later afternoon rainstorms, to do a little walkaround to see what critters I could find: Yellow-crowned night heron: Solitary sandpiper: Grasshopper, sawing away with those wings and legs: Black-and-white warbler: Prairie warbler: Green iguana, lounging on the handrail: The American bitterns leave us for summer - the last one I saw was in mid-April. This one spotted Saturday was the first one back for fall: An anhinga, doing its part in controlling the invasive species in Florida - with an armored catfish for lunch (armored catfish are no bueno!):
  5. Though the heat and humidity are still awful, and will continue that way well into November, at least the selection and diversity in the wetlands is improving, as we start to transition closer to fall and some wintering or migrating birds are starting to show up. Saturday's excursion to the wetlands had some nice mixes of critters: White peacock butterfly closeup: Golden-winged skimmer dragonfly, head-on: Roseate spoonbill: A pied-billed grebe chick, up close: The beautiful yellow-throated warbler has returned for winter: Yes, green iguanas can swim! An impossibly small baby cooter turtle, just a hair bigger than a quarter: On the other end of the spectrum, George the alligator, the biggest, oldest gator in the wetlands: An osprey, high up on a lookout post - ready to use those nasty talons to snatch an unwary fish:
  6. Another weekend spent out in the wetlands - temperature 97 degrees F, humidity around 82%, no clouds at all, so that sun was beating down directly at 1pm - 4pm. The good thing about the wetlands here is that there are always fauna around of some kind! A Needham's skimmer dragonfly: A juvenile Cooper's hawk attempting to hide in the shadowy pine forest, but finding that the blue jays knew exactly where he was and were loudly alerting the rest of the forest to his presence. The way he was glaring at them, you could feel the daggers coming from his eyes!: A large softshell turtle having a rest on a submerged log, while a dragonfly was having a rest on him: A lovely roseate spoonbill showing his pink feathers against that clear blue sky: This momma alligator was about 4 feet away - sitting directly on top of her nest...she usually sits nearby and watches, jumping out of the water and hissing at anything that gets too close, but on this day she was right on the nest, so likely her eggs will soon be hatching, and she was there ready to assist: I noticed this black-bellied whistling duck sitting quite still, but looking a bit raised up: On closer inspection, I focused through the plants and reeds around her belly, and noticed she was sheltering her brood of ducklings: Then I heard the whistling calls in the air, and poppa whistling duck came for a few close circles around me: I didn't want to upset him thinking I was a threat to his kids, so I moved on, and he landed on the handrail of the boardwalk right where I had been standing to photograph momma. A good father, keeping watch over his family while they rest and get some shade.
  7. Short Saturday jaunt through the wetlands - about 3 hours of the day, after some heavy rains in the early afternoon and leaving before the next rains came through. Temperatures were a wonderful 94 degrees, and having just rained, humidity was essentially 100% - the steam coming off the wet ground made for air the consistency and temperature of hot pea soup. Here's what I was able to find when I could wipe the sweat out of my eyes: Scarlet skimmer dragonfly: Black-bellied whistling duck: Basilisk lizard: Closeup with an anhinga: White peacock butterfly on a purple flower: Lovely prairie warbler, a migrating bird passing through early for fall migration south: Green iguana hiding, somewhat, in the tall grass:
  8. Other small considerations - you'll want to get the lens as close as possible to the window glass (or plexiglass) - if you use a lens hood, you can press that against the glass which will help get rid of unwanted reflections - and also, the closer the glass is to the lens, the less the small imperfections, stains, etc will be picked up by the camera and affect the image quality. Another good tip - wear a black shirt with no logos or prints. When shooting through glass, you'll often get strong reflections of whatever's behind the camera - if you wear a light colored shirt or stripes, you'll often see them very clearly in your shot. If you use a dark shirt, it won't be as reflective and won't create any color casts in the shot, and you can use the 'reflection' of your black shirt to shoot through - it makes almost a 'hole' in the glass with no reflection. Keep your shutter speeds higher than normal, to cope with the vibrations, motion of the aircraft, etc. The non-optical-quality aircraft windows will likely cost you an F-stop or two as well, so the shutter speeds may drop more than you'd expect in bright sunlight if you've set a lower ISO - you'd probably want to make sure you're using around 1/1000 shutter speed or so - you may get away with less, especially as the lens gets wider, but in general, the higher shutter speed should help counter any vibrations or motion.
  9. Got out for some wetlands walks on Saturday, though I don't really know what's wrong with me, wanting to go trapsing through a swamp when the temps are 97 and the humidity 85%. But that's the way it is down here for the next 4 months or so! An early return of a winter bird, the black-and-white warbler, usually not really here in any big numbers until September: The yellow-crowned night herons are supposed to be asleep in the day, but they all seemed to be fairly awake: This young snowy egret was just resting on a tiny island...not really inspired to do much else in that heat: Ducking behind a palm tree when it saw me coming, I knew this raccoon was going to have to peek around the corner to see if I was still there. I stayed very quietly with my lens ready, and sure enough...out came the head: The beautiful and vivid scarlet skimmer dragonfly: A brown basilisk lizard climbing up the reeds for a peek: One scary encounter - while photographing various fauna, I came across this alien invader from the planet Ziburon. I tried not to look into his eyes, but he had some kind of mind lock ability and told me there were millions of them already here on earth planning to take over soon (I may have just imagined that bit - it also could have just been a grasshopper viewed from the top, which made his head look rather unusual!): Deep in the brush along the bank, this stationary log was a momma alligator, and just off camera to the right was a big pile of leaves which was her nest. She was keeping a very close guard on her nest as it had been about 60 days and baby gators should be hatching any time now: A juvenile little blue heron, still wearing its white colors, flying over me:
  10. I still haven't gotten around to even sorting or processing any other shots from Sunday, July 25, except for this handful I wanted to process because it was something new for me. It's not often nowadays I get new species of birds to photograph, as I've been doing it a while now, so there aren't as many birds left I haven't shot except the rarities or non-natives that pop up sometimes. But there are a few birds that aren't necessarily 'rare' in any way, and are native to our area, but have just been elusive. Owls in particular are often difficult because they're nocturnal, and we are heavily forested here in S. Florida so there are lots of places for them to hide unseen. I had managed to photograph great horned owls, eastern screech owls, burrowing owls, and last year my first barn owl. Now I can add one more to my list, having come across and photographed my first Barred Owl:
  11. Hit the wetlands on the 17th last Saturday, but didn't get around to offloading and uploading the photos from card to galleries until yesterday...so, here are some of the critters that day, while walking through the raindrops: Alligator cruising in the water, not minding the rain at all: High cuteness factor with this pied-billed grebe chick: Brown basilisk lizard perched on a branch to do a little sunbathing: A purple gallinule, climbing to the top of the reeds to get at the flowers and buds, which is the only part they like to eat: A yellow-crowned night heron juvenile, standing backlit against a bright sky, staring with those big orange eyes: Speaking of eyes, none are more beautiful and inviting than those of the double-crested cormorant - looking like the jeweled blue waters of the Caribbean:
  12. I headed out to the wetlands on July 10th after getting back from Disney World the weekend before - and had a nice day of encounters - but I didn't get around to downloading and processing photos from Disney or from July 10th until yesterday! It's been a busy week catching up. Here are some of that weekend's grabs: Red-winged blackbird mom feeding her hungry, newly-hatched chick: Three female anhingas lined up on a limb: Black-bellied whistling duck trying to have an afternoon nap: The lovely little least bittern very much out in the open, which they usually don't do - this male was walking along the reed over the water to sneak up on the fish below: A large Florida softshell attempting to rest on a downed tree where it likes to get some sun - but heavy rains had that tree under water, so this was the best he could get: A juvenile male wood duck, still working on getting his gaudy full color display wood ducks are known for, but still pretty: A yellow-crowned night heron, a little wet from a small rainshower, trying to have an afternoon nap up in the trees:
  13. July 4th weekend finally saw me back at Disney World - for the first time since they closed for the pandemic and reopened with too many restrictions to make it fun. I was there in the first week of March 2020, just before they closed - and now back on July 2nd - the longest period of time I've ever gone without a visit to a Disney park since 1971! Here are a few of the shots from the trip, ranging from July 2 to July 4: Pirates of the Caribbean ride: Ring-tailed lemur at Animal Kingdom park: A new addition to the Asia jungle trek aviary, and the first time I've seen one in person, a tawny frogmouth: A hippo, demonstrating why that mouth can be such a danger to boaters, and the reason they're the deadliest animal in Africa! Though in this case, it was just a yawn: A neat surprise that night - I headed back to my villa at Saratoga Springs, which sits right across from the Disney Springs entertainment district...I wasn't able to get park reservations for Magic Kingdom that night for 4th of July fireworks, and figured I'd just not see any fireworks that night since my villa didn't face Magic Kingdom. So I was rather surprised sitting on my couch having a drink to see this right outside my window: And I mean RIGHT in line with my window - here, I pulled back wider to show I am shooting this firework display without leaving my living room couch - that's the sliding glass door I'm shooting through! Apparently the Marriott World Center fireworks were just behind Disney Springs, and perfectly lined up with my villa: :
  14. The weekend wetlands visit on Saturday... The male wood ducks, usually very ornate, have toned down their colors in what's known as their 'eclipse' or non-breeding plumage: Black-bellied whistling duck flying close by: Black-necked stilt making a close pass as well: Really close up with a cormorant (about 4 feet away): Two tricolored heron chicks standing near their nest: Glossy ibis mom with her chicks begging for food: I also jumped in my pool afterwards as it was so hot - and brought the camera out by poolside to shoot some of the backyard critters. Starting with this female cardinal raising her head plume: The very bold northern curly-tailed lizards see me in the pool, and immediately come running over to the side to watch me - they know that I'll flick any little bugs that landed in the pool out to the deck, and they'll run over and eat them up as soon as they hit the deck:
  15. The weekend birding and wildlife shoot this Saturday - dodging between the rainstorms. This weekend marked the return of the least terns, who were furiously dive-bombing fish out on the main lake, which made for some fun shooting...plus some of the other critters around that day: Least tern getting ready to dive: When they do make their dive, they tend to come up with a fish more than half the time: But yes, sometimes they miss: I love how, for such a tiny bird (they're about the size of a robin), they make quite the splash when they strike the water - and they'll go almost completely underwater: Yellow-crowned night heron sitting quietly in the shade: A young raccoon strolling through the pine forest and noticing me: Fresh out of the egg within the past 2-3 days, this glossy ibis chick wants what all chicks want when they hatch - FOOD: The problem with many invasive species is that the local wildlife doesn't include it on the food chain, and the population explodes. Armored catfish took hold in Florida and are a scourge - but it seems some of the local wildlife has decided that they're edible and added them to their menu, like this anhinga:
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