Last year I added Cazan Lake to the Spring bird photography tours. It proved to be one of our better opportunities for my bird tours. Providing close easy onshore access to nesting Great Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills. A guard controlled access at the entrance to the property, and you signed in and paid the entrance fee. The guard will no longer be there early in the morning or on weekends. However, they are instituting a membership arrangement with a card key access for off-hours. I'll be purchasing a membership allowing access for the tours, and I'll pay for the participant's fees at the gate as before after we have entered the property. For those of you in the area, you may want to purchase a membership to allow access early in the morning for the best photography. Over the last year, I visited enough times to exceed the $125 annual fee, and I expect to visit more frequently over the next year.
During the past month, I've created three online galleries. One is of Black and White images; one is of Landscapes in color, and the other is of birds. I'm also printing each image to make a matching print portfolio. The online galleries are here:
Post Processing Software
While updating my portfolio, I used Lightroom, Photoshop, and the following applications extensively.
I process images without a lot of special effects or by taking them over the top. I've tried alternatives to Lightroom and Photoshop and consider their presets too much for my taste. However, photographing using the raw format intentionally produces an image low in contrast. Carefully balancing the needed additional punch needed while maintaining restraint from over-processing is my target.
While I frequently shoot bracketed shots to extend the dynamic range, I find most of the HDR software makes the images look too artificial. In many cases, I prefer to use luminosity masks to blend highlight and shadow detail from the bracketed shots rather than using HDR software. One outstanding Photoshop Panel to make excellent luminosity masks is The TK7 Actions Panel by Tony Kuyper. I've been using his panels since version 4 and have kept up to date ever since. One downside of the panel is the steep learning curve, and I recommend if you decide to try this approach, you also purchase the companion video by Sean Bagshaw.
While I own a multitude of photoshop plug-ins, there's one set that I return to over and over. The Nik Collection. These plug-ins have a long history, first released by Nik many years ago, then purchased by Google who let the software go dormant, and finally picked up by DXO. I use three of the plug-ins frequently. Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Nik Sharpener. I use Color Efex Pro on almost every color image, to improve mid-tone contrast, remove incorrect color casts, and give photographs a bit of pop. Silver Efex Pro is my "go-to" Black and White conversion technique, and Nik Sharpener is an excellent sharpening tool. DxO has made the software compatible with the latest version of Photoshop and the MAC and Windows operating systems, a valuable set of updates. However, while there have been new presets created, there are no new useful features.
Space remains in the Fall Photo Tours, Houma Lousiana Photo Tour, and Spring Birding Photography Tours.
The fall tour features landscape photography in the swamps of Louisiana. I am combining photographing onshore with photographing from a boat. Fall is a mystical time in the wetlands with orange and rust leaves, Cypress trunks and knees in the water, and Spanish Moss draped over the branches. With a little luck, we'll get fog or mist backlit by the sun.
The Houma Tour, added by request, centers around my home in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. This tour combines photo opportunities near my house with time in my office processing images. More time will be available for working on both photo techniques in the field and post-processing images than in the Fall and Spring Tours. While there will be ample opportunities to create beautiful images, the focus will be on learning and exploring new techniques. This tour would also be an excellent time to explore Infrared Photography as well. Details are here.
The Spring Bird Photography tours feature photographing nesting Wading Birds in Southern Louisiana. Southwestern Louisiana is a fantastic place for Photographing Wading birds. Featured are Roseate Spoonbills, Great, Cattle, and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue, Great Blue, and Little Green Herons and White Faced, Glossy and White Ibis. Frequently photographed are also Least and American Bitterns. We also will be photographing Osprey in Flight going to and from the nest.