First Daffodil 2015

There always has to be a first and this is the very first daffodil that I’ve photographed in 2015. I took it at the Oregon Zoo on my last visit but I could have just as easily taken plenty of pictures of daffodils in my front yard or a dozen other yards in my neighborhood. It’s Spring already in Oregon and everything is in full bloom.

On a side note I learned a very cool new trick in Topaz Simplify this evening. The main power of this plug-in for Photoshop is detail control. You create an artistic look by removing detail when you develop an oil painting look for example. There’s no way a painter can match the sharp detail of a photograph so removing that extra detail helps create a painting like effect. The same goes for sketches, watercolor renditions or other artistic formats. But the software has additional slider controls for increasing detail in photos. In the daffodil photo below I took this photo into Topaz Simplify and increased the sharp edges of the flower petals and stem. The slider controls to do this fall under edge treatments. It starts out as a clean white sheet and you dial in additional edge sharpening until there’s an outline around the flower parts. It appears as a light pencil sketch and simply accentuates the shapes in the flower, making them pop. The trick is to not go crazy with this adjustment. This is a very effective method to sharpen a photo in a controllable way. Ok, this new software is going to really help my pictures. I’m starting to imagine all sorts of uses and possibilities here. :)

Daffodil 01 2015


Stayin Alive!

Don’t let them fool you these gentle giants can be the most dangerous animals on earth. Bubbles though is just interested in staying warm as the floor of her cave is heated. She sleeps aside her companion, Poppy.

Bubbles Comin Alive


The Advantage of Topaz Simplify

When I want to do an original piece of art from a photograph Topaz Simplify let’s me adjust a light pencil sketch so it’s just barely visible on a blank page. Call it an outline drawing just as you might do with a pencil with a light touch, preparing a darker outline as you work toward a finished drawing or even painting. The other method is similar and involves adding a blank layer above a photograph and then tracing with a brush with a fine point selected. The results are the same but the speed of the final sketch is very fast and as detailed as you want to make it. Once your pencil sketch is in place you can make another layer to add color strokes, shading or other medium to the other layers. always work in layers so you can always go back and make changes.

This whole process is like making your own coloring book pages, with outline drawing for you to color/paint. You can keep it all black and white and use pencil, conte crayon or charcoal to finish the piece. It’s totally up to you and to me it’s a lot of fun.

Original Photograph

Hellebores 03

Pencil Sketch using Topaz Simplify

Flower Pencil Sketch

Hellebores Watercolor

I’m continuing to learn Topaz Simplify plug-in software for Photoshop. There are an almost infinite set of variation on any of the dozens of presets that come with the software so it becomes a matter of choosing the “look” that you are seeking. Flower photographs really lend themselves to using Simplify because of the myriad of pastel colors available in nature’s designs. The symmetrical structures in flowers along with a super amount of detail allows you to carefully control the presentation put forth to the viewer. The original photo is on the bottom. I like both versions by the way.

Hellebores Rendering 01


Hellebores 03

Sunshine & Reflections

Cherry TreeIt’s been a great start to another week as Oregon is truly in an early Spring. The Japanese cherry trees, with their pink blossoms, line the streets in Portland. Tulips are already in the fields of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon getting ready for the annual Tulip Festival in late March.

Daffodil 4All is well at the Oregon Zoo as the animals are loving all the sunshine and warm weather. We do have snow on the ground in Oregon but it’s high in our mountain ranges where our skiers and snowboarders are enjoying a late season. The Speke’s Gazelle at the Oregon Zoo have Crocus to enjoy in their outdoor exhibit as they leisurely enjoy a drink from their crystal clear pond, complete with a tiny waterfall.

Crocus 02So spirits are high after unusually mild and warm Winter here in the Pacific Northwest. The sound of lawnmowers instead of snowplows brings us early hope that 2015 will be a wonderful year as we are reminded here in the valley how truly blessed we are.







Speke's Gazelle #6

Upcoming Milestone

I’ve been watching my follower numbers creeping up for some time. I’m about 50 folks away from reaching 4,000. That’s just crazy folks! I’m so honored in the past two years to have met people from countries around the world that follow my photographs, renderings and yes, even rants. I use my blog to promote the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I live and to shoutout talent when I see/hear it. I give credit when credit is due and I’m so proud of folks for standing up for what is right, good and needs to be heard or seen. Know that you’ll always find a home here. :)

A Quick Reminder

Every now and then I need to stop and remind folks why I blog. I moved to blogging from the nasty world of online forums where people meet and give their opinions, whether they are wanted or not. Forums usually have moderators like of the Jerry Springer Show. Have you ever watched that daytime fiasco where “guests” try to literally tear each other apart? The show creators provide muscle bound attendants to physically separate combatants.  I do not want my blog site to turn into that type of place. No critiques are necessary or wanted here on my photographs or those of anyone else that I post on my blog. In forums it’s a free-for-all that often gets nasty. That will not be tolerated here. My followers and visitors will never see negative remarks. I am the moderator. I am the owner of this blog and I check it often during each and every day. Negative nanny pixel picking remarks are summarily placed in “File 13″. I don’t care about the number of followers or if I piss off anyone for deleting their negative comments. End of rant.

Gerenuk Doing Spring Cleaning

Never let it be said that the Oregon Zoo animals don’t pull their weight when it comes to cleaning their home. The male Gerenuk below worked mightily to free this dead branch from the mesh fencing protecting the tree.

Gerenuk Yardwork

Shoutout: My Tumblr Site

I just spent 5 minutes thumbing my way through a dozen pages of photos on my Tumblr blog site at: I’ve had this site for some time and put only my best photos on their for pure enjoyment by me and anyone else that loves photography. The theme I chose there allows for full screen viewing of close-ups. There’s no text, no technical data, just photos. I can spend hours there viewing the hundreds in my favorite collection. There’s a link to it at the bottom of my regular blog site if you ever wish to visit and thumb your way through my photos. – Bob