Photoshop Elements 8

A number of people have asked me over the years, what editing software do I use.  I have Photoshop CS4 which I am learning to use.  But I stll have my dear old Photoshop Elements.  I have used Elements since they came out with their first version several years ago.  I now have version 8.

As they have upgraded, they have gradually added tools, bells and whistles,  that were originally in the full Photoshop software.  Version 8 has continued improving in that sense.  It is very user friendly, and very, very less expensive.  Example:  Full Photoshop CS4 or CS5 – around 600.00.  Photoshop Elements 8 – less than 100.00.  If you are inclined to shoot RAW file, Elements can handle the conversion with no problem.

I myself, shoot RAW and JPEG simotaneously.  My Canon EOS 7D allows me to do that.  Then I can choose to use whichever image I want.  But either way, I find that the final results are excellent.

Following are two examples.  Both were processed in Photoshop Elements 8.  An Eastern Bluebird and a Sunflower, which you saw the photo yesterday.  The bluebird original was a JPEG, whereas the Sunflower was shot in RAW.  These were shot with my 18MP Canon EOS 7D.  Having that extra large file to work with enables me to crop extra close.  Both of these photos produced very nice 11x14s.

Eastern Bluebird - original from the camera



Sunflower - original from camera




Of course, there is more to producing a good photograph than just cropping.   In these photos, I have adjusted the light, color saturation, contrast, and done a little more sharpening.  So that’s how Photoshop Elements has helped me out. 

If you have any questions or comments on this subject comment here or contact me direct at   Click on any of the images for an enlargement.

Sandpipers and Sunflowers

This morning I noticed that the Roseate Spoonbills were too far out in the lake to try to get any photos.  I could barely make them out even with my binoculars.  I and Ann just strolled along the shore for awhile.  We saw several shorebirds including some Least Sandpipers.  They are very small birds and hard to photograph, when they move so much when feeding.  Here is the result of one image.

Least Sandpiper


On the way back towards the car, we came across a stand of Sunflowers.  I started to just bypass them, but on a whim I tried for some photographs.  I guess I was still thinking of the discussion on “photographyfree4all”‘s blog, about macro and flower photography.  I took this shot with my Canon EOS 7D, 100-400mm f4 zoom lens,  ISO 3200, 1/250 @ f14,  minus 1/3 EV .  I was about 8 feet away, and my lens was set at 260mm.  The sky was overcast.  By the way, I don’t claim this to be a macro shot. 🙂


I hope you enjoy the photos.  See more by clicking my Photo Album pages at the top of this page.  Click on any image for an enlargement.

Persistency equals great photos!

You probably remember that for the past ten days, I have been stalking a couple of Roseate Spoonbills that arrived here recently from the gulf coast.  They have been hanging around O. C. Fisher lake, but usually so far out that it was difficult to come up with great images.

But this morning, we found a spot where I could get the best photo yet.  No more crawling, mucking thru mud, mesquite brush and shoulder high weeds, trying to avoid critters like rattle snakes and bobcats.  This place required just a 500 yard hike along the shoreline.  Ann carried my tripod and I lugged the big 500mm with a 1.4 tele-converter.

The Roseate Spoonbills were about 100 yards off shore on a little spit of dirt and gravel about 30 feet wide.  Keeping company with them was a magnificent Great Blue Heron.  With my lens a working 700mm I was practically able to fill the frame.  For all three photos I had the ISO at 400, F16, at 1,250th of a second, minus 1/3 EV.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking the shots.  Click on either image for an enlargement.

Roseate Spoonbills and Great Blue Heron


Roseate Spoonbills and Great Blue Heron

Roseate Spoonbill and Great Blue Heron

Commemorative Air Force Show + Photos

It’s that time of year.  A few days ago I posted some of my birds of another type, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.  This is about some other warbirds, that to some, time has forgotten.  Soon, on October 9-10 the Commemorative Air Force will have their annual big air show at their headquarters at Midland International Airport, Midland, Texas.  They were once known as the Confederate Air Force, but of course some people can’t let anything alone, and they had to change their name for “political” reasons.  But for non-interupted excitement you shouldn’t miss it. 

I have attended several times and there is non-stop flying, featuring predominantly old World War II fighters and bombers.  One of the stars of the show is Fifi, the only flyable B-29 Superfortress left in the country.  It is a nostalgic journey for me to see these old warbirds.  I am of the age to remember them very well.  Check out to get more information.

P-51 Mustang


B-29 Flying Fortress "Fifi"


B-17G Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey"


TBF Avenger


Also, last but certainly not forgetten to me, are the two more photos that I’d like to share with you.  I was stationed at now defunct Ardmore AFB, Ardmore, Oklahoma for three years back in the 50s.  It was home to the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing, part of the old Tactical Air Command.  Chief of Command was General Curtis LeMay.  He used to visit us and when he did he arrived in the C124 Globemaster pictured below.

C-124 Globemaster


In December of 1957, we at Ardmore AFB, received the very first operational C130 Hercules.  It was flown in by a civilian techie from Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, the builders.  It became part of the 463rd Troop Carrier of the 838th Air Base Group.  We received an outstanding unit citation with this aircraft and her sisters.  I was very proud to be part of that citation.  This is the actual aircraft as it arrived from the factory.  It, with the same tail number,  is now sitting on a pedestal in the Air Park at Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas.  By the way, these two black and white photos carry my copyright, as do the others.  I was the photographer that took the pictures and they are part of my personal collection.

C-130 Hercules

Roseate Spoonbills still here!

Persistence can sometimes pay off.  After doing my regular chores at San Angelo State Park this morning, I got to thinking, “What if those Roseate Spoonbills are still around?”  Ann and I decided to go back and check and see.  Sure enough, we were rewarded.  We spotted them on a little spit of sand much closer than before.

I still had to use the 2x converter on my lens, and so back to manual focusing.  Not my favorite thing to do at those distances.  But however, I did come up with a much better image that before.  Take a look.

Roseate Spoonbills

Hot morning at San Angelo State Park

Map of Tom Green County Texas highlighting San...

Image via Wikipedia

Ann and I made our usual trip to San Angelo State Park. As hot as it was getting be, her and I still had a good time after feeding the birds at the blind.  While at said blind I did manage to get this nice shot of a Black-chinned Hummingbird  It was feeding at the blossoms on a Red Flowering Yucca.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

 We then made a drive around with the windows open and the air-conditioning turned on.  Checked to see if the Roseate Spoonbills had stayed, but apparently they are not used to this west Texas heat.  We did get a good list of birds, though.

25  Red-winged Blackbird

50  White-winged Dove

2   Northern Cardinal

25   House Sparrow

10   House Finch

1  Black-chinned Hummingbird

12  Northern Mockingbird

2   Black-crested Titmouse

40  Common Grackle

2   Pyrrholoxia

1   Painted Bunting

3   Morning Dove

2   Brown-headed Cowbird

3   Western Kingbird

3   Killdeer

1   Long-billed Dowitcher

8   Black-necked Stilts

5   Snowy Egrets

2   Great Blue Heron

8   Double-crested Cormorants

3   Turkey Vulture

3   Canyon Towhee

1   Greater Roadrunner

1   Golden-fronted Woodpecker

3   Common Nighthawk  (all withing 10 yards of each other)

4   Barn Swallow

10  Lark Sparrow

3   Western Sandpiper

Several un-identified ducks.

Not bad count considering the heat.  Today is supposed to be the 23rd consecutive day of 100+ degrees.  So we’re setting a new record as the days go by.  The old record was 18 straight days.

So folks, I am going to cool off this afternoon in front of the TV and watch the Texas Rangers take on the Baltimore Orioles.  Life doesn’t get any better than this. 🙂

Happy Birding everybody!!

Hawks, Hawks, Hawks!

To me  there is hardly anything more beautiful than a hawk soaring through the air, on the hunt for prey.  I love to photograph them on the wing whenever possible.  But I take what I can get.  For example the Zone-tailed Hawk pictured here was perched in the rain, getting soaking wet.  That was the first one I had ever seen and that, of course, is the only photograph that I have, and I was lucky to get it, as it flew away seconds after I took the shot.  The Zone-tailed Hawk is often mistaken for a vulture because of it’s slouching posture when perching and it’s similar flying habits.

wet Zone-tailed Hawk

I have something new for my blog posts now.  When I am discussing subjects, such as  birds, animals, flowers, etc., I can assign a link, if one is available, to them as in the paragraph above.  If you click on any of those links, they will take to you to more in-depth articles.  So today I am going to show you some of my hawk photographs. 

First up is a Red-shouldered Hawk that I photographed at the Hummer House near Christoval, Texas.  Dan Brown, the owner, had put some meat out for it, and after devouring it, the bird perched in the tree.

Red-shouldered Hawk

 The following is a Northern Harrier that I photographed at San Angelo StatePark.  It was doing it’s usual thing, of flying low over the mesquite and brush.  Again it didn’t come close enough to me to get a great picture, but the image that I did get shows the distinct white wide stripe on the lower back and tail.

Northern Harrier

The Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are very similar in appearance except that the Coopers is about 5 inches taller.  Other than that, they both are long-tailed and short-winged, and are agile in maneuvering to catch their prey. These two photos were both taken at San Angelo State Park.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

One of the larger buteo hawks is the Swainson’s Hawk.  This one was perched on the cross-bar of a utility pole outside the entrance to San Angelo State Park.

Swainson's Hawk

The buteo to which all other hawks are compared is the Red-tailed Hawk.  Similar in size to the Swainson’s hawk but very conspicuous with the red tail.  This is one that I was lucky enough to catch in flight, and one of my personal favorites.

Red-tailed Hawk

I hope you have enjoyed todays photos.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Roseate Spoonbills

Two Roseate Spoonbills were seen at O. C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo State Park.  As soon as Ranger Melanie Lacy called me from the park, I high-tailed it out there to see if I could spot it.  After all, it would be a “lifer” for me.  I spotted them as soon as I got there with my spotting scope.  To try to get as close as possible for any chance of a photograph.  I lugged my tripod and my Canon 7d with a 2x teleconverter down to the bottom of the boat ramp at the water’s edge.  Even then the distance was so great I could barely make them out in my view-finder.  I also had to manual focus.  This is the finished shot after extensive cropping and sharpening.  Nothing to write home about but good enough to make an ID.  By the way, Melanie says this the first ever sighting of a Roseate Spoonbill at the park.

Roseate Spoonbills


Hopefully, they will stay a few days so more people can see them.  It would be great if they would also move to a closer location for easier viewing.

Butterflies, Butterflies!

We went looking for some new birds yesterday.  The migration should be starting soon so we were starting to get our hopes up.  But we were hoping in vain, or maybe were just rushing the season.  But anyway, didn’t see anything exciting, except for some butterflies.  Since I posted some shots of a Gulf Fritillary a few days ago, I thought you’d like to see some of my other butterfly photos from the past.

Checkered White Butterfly


Giant Swallowtail Butterfly


Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly


Queen Butterfly


Monarch Butterfly


I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!