Old friends and new tools

When we lived in Michigan a pair of sandhill cranes nested each year in the shallow end of the lake below our house.  Their loud calls were the heralds of spring for us and one year they paraded around their new chick for the neighborhood to admire.  We came to love these ancient, tall birds being a part of our community.

Living in Nebraska sandhill cranes are an equally important part of spring in the center of the state.  The thousands of them migrating north draw in equal thousands of tourists to the Grand Island/Kearney area to glimpse the crowd of birds grazing in the fields near the Platte and resting overnight in the shallow river.

Little did we realize that Wisconsin is also a crane haven, being the primary nesting habitat for greater sandhill cranes that migrate each year from central Florida to hatch their young around the Great Lakes.  Gradually we saw them in the fields, then a large group of them in a small lake.  Finally, biking near the Horicon Marsh wildlife refuge, we were able to get close enough to admire them again.

I’ve seen cranes in cornfields, in marshes, in rivers and at the base of mountains but this is the first time I’ve seen them in a field of green.  It’s a nice background for their coloration and certainly makes it easier to spot them!  Very nice to see and hear them again.

I’ve been using the NIK plug-ins for Photoshop for so long I stopped looking at the filters offered there.  Today I had a chance to see a new addition for CS6 (I think).  It gives the ability to convert a photograph into an oil painting.  Well, at least into an image that reminds you of an oil painting.

Here’s a scene from this past weekend.  I wanted to catch the sun breaking through the clouds and this happened to be the composition that got the best lighting.  It’s not the most interesting composition, just playing around with light and lines and textures.  But it did seem to me a good candidate for less detail and more “painterly” appearance.  Enter the Oil Brush filter in Photoshop.

A little adjustment for saturation, reduction of contrast detail and application of the Oil Brush, and this is what popped up on my screen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMakes a much more interesting image, don’t you think?  Now I have to find more of my photographs to use this own.  Next, see how it prints.



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