Fun with creative editing….


In times like this, when the weather is hot and the birding is slow, it is time for….drum roll please………..Creative Editing.

Actually, I did get out for a little while Sunday morning.  I didn’t want to spend too much time as I wanted to get home in time to watch Andre Beltre, of the Texas Rangers, get his 3000th base hit.  In the history of baseball, only 30 others had accomplished that in their career.  But, heck, you are not interested in hearing about baseball.

So, back to the original purpose of this post.  While we were out, Ann, a couple of family friends, and I, were birding at San Angelo State Park.  As I said, not too much going on, but we did spot a Northern Bobwhite perched and singing in the distance.  In the distance, is an understatement, as we could barely see him with our naked eyes.  I put my bean bag on the window sill, turned off the engine to prevent anymore vibrations.  I settled my Canon 7D Mark II with my Tamron 150-600 G2 lens, on the beanbag.  With that solid bed, I fired off a few shots at 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, plus 1/3 stop of EV adjustment.  ISO was 800, which promoted a little digital noise.  Here is the original, looking through that long lens.  I was at a distance of approximately 100 yards.  Remember, with the naked eye it looked even much further away.

Northern Bobwhite

Since that was the only usable image from that outing, I loaded it into the computer to see if I could make something out of it in my digital darkroom.  The result follows below.  First, you can see how I first cropped it.  In doing so, it left part of the tree taking up space, too close to the quail for my liking.  Fortunately the sky was an even blue all around, so I just cloned the tree out very easily.  After all, I was after a nice photo of the bird, not the tree.  It was just a distraction in this case.

The first thing I did was get rid of the tiny bit of noise that the higher ISO of 800 created.  There wasn’t much, as the Canon 7D Mk II handles high ISOs very nicely.  But I have a plug-in, Topaz DeNoise, that does a great job of eliminating digital noise.  Very easy to use.

Now, even with taking those precautions described above, the image wasn’t tack sharp.  But that is going to happen when you crop an image so tightly, especially since the original was shot from so far away.  I do all of my cropping and editing in Photoshop CS5.  I do not use their sharpening, though.  I have a great plug-in, called Focus Magic.  Photoshop’s sharpening method with the so-called “Unsharp Mask” just messes with the pixels.  Focus Magic actually corrects the focus very naturally.  But having said that, evev after I use the Focus Magic, I sometimes tweak it a little more by using the Photoshop’s focus tool and paint it a little lightly.  A very neat trick.

After that I tweaked the contrast and color saturation a bit.  And there you have it, my little secret recipe that has been handed down over hundreds of years.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  I hope you like it. 🙂  (Click on either image to see nice enlargements.)

Northern Bobwhite

And yes, in case you were wondering, Andre Beltre did get his 3,000th  hit,. After that, I took a nap. 🙂

Oh, in case you missed it my beautiful 2018 calendars are here.  Click this link for more information: https://bobzeller.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/2018-calendars-on-the-way/

2018 Calendars on the way.


2018 Calendar

Just a brief post to let you folks know that my beautiful 2018 Texas Tweeties Calendar has been ordered.  It will be here in around August 1.  If you are interested in one contact me  They have proved to be very popular in past years so it would behoove you to get yours as soon as possible.  Just contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.  They are 22.95 plus 7.00 shipping.  Not a bad price for 12 of my photographs. 🙂

Thank you, and Happy Birding!!

Summer Birding at San Angelo State Park


I have been birding at San Angelo State Park for about ten years.  I have seen highs and lows.  The highs were in the years of 2007-2008.  Then O. C. Fisher lake started drying up.  Gone were a lot of the water loving birds, herons, ducks, etc.  You could literally walk across the lake and not get your feet wet.  Then there was a program where spraying was done to kill the mesquite.  Those trees and shrubs started dying and losing foliage, which was cover for some birds.  About that time, we had some welcome storms that brought water back into the lake.  The water reached the levels of 2007.  That was welcome as the water fowl started to return.  But now with withering temperatures we had recently, the lake is slowly dropping again.

I am not saying that birding is bad, but the birds that once were plentiful have had their numbers decreasing.   There was a time when we would always see large numbers of hawks, osprey, and other birds of prey.  Now we rarely see a raptor.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.  It is just to show that they are scarce.  In our searches we have discovered one Swainson’s Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks, and until yesterday we knew of only one Great Horned Owl that was hangout near the Isabell Harte picnic area.  That increased by one yesterday when I tell you of a nice experience we had.

Great Horned Owl

Yesterday morning, Ann and I decided to got to the park early, to check out the bird blind.  It had been recently damaged in a storm, but it was now open again to the public.  We drove down the lane to the structure and turned into the little parking area.  Lo and behold, sitting on the fence next to the blind and about ten feet from the door, was the Great Horned Owl, pictured above.  We sat in the car, or what I call our mobile blind.  I was able to get that shot and several others from there.  I was only about 35 feet from the bird, and to get out of the car would probably spook it.  We observed it for about 10 minutes, not wanting to disturb it.  However, after a few minutes, a volunteer that puts birdseed in the feeders drove up.  That spooked the owl and off he flew.  but it was an amazing experience, to be that close.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

We were at the blind for about an hour and we saw Painted Buntings, Northern Bobwhite,  Northern Cardinals, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Bell’s Vireo, Bewick’s Wren, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, (pictured above) and the usual doves, sparrows, etc.

After leaving the blind, we took a drive all through the park, seeking birds that don’t frequent the blind.  Here are a few photos from those drives during the past couple of weeks.

Blue Grosbeak

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Of course, I have so others that I haven’t processed yet, and some others that are just throw-aways.  But we saw around 40-45 species in the past couple of weeks.  Others that deserve mentions are Common Nighthawks, Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatachers, Black-throated Sparrows, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Greater Roadrunner, Wild Turkey, Pyrrhuloxia, Canyon Towhee, Bullock’s Oriole, plus the various doves and sparrows.

Looking back at what I have written, I suppose that I may have painted a bleak picture of the birding.  But then I realized that most of the birds are here, just not in large numbers, such as the raptors.  You just have to look a bit harder to see them.  But, isn’t that the fun of the hunt????

So, I believe the birding at San Angelo State Park, is alive and well.

For information on purchasing prints click on the Bob’s Gallery button at the top of this page, or this link:https://bobzeller.wordpress.com/photo-album-guide/

Happy Birding!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Catch me live, in living color…..


To begin this post, I would like to let you know that yesterday, Thursday June 29, I was honored to be featured and interviewed on a local TV program, Concho Vally Live on KLST.  I spoke about photography, and showed several of my photographs.  Here is a link to see that interview if you want to finally meet and see me up close.  You will see that I am not the handsome hunk that you thought I was.  http://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/concho-valley-live/photography-talk-with-bob-zeller-concho-valley-live-june-29-2017/754138109

It went pretty well except the person in charge, loaded the photos so they would loop rather than show individually, so each photo showed for only 5 seconds.  You will see that I had a difficult task to try to describe  of them.  Ashley Cunha did a great job doing the interview, though.   But I must say, she had the advantage of reading from the teleprompter, whereas I had to wing it.  I hope you enjoy seeing the show.

In other news, many of you have probably heard about the storm that hit San Angelo a week ago.  It was really devastating, millions of dollars damage through out the city.  We were one of the lucky ones.  Our flag pole got snapped in half, a portion of our fence blew down, and our roof lost a couple of shingles.  Other parts of town lost building, roofs, signage, etc.

San Angelo State Park, where we do most of our birding, and where I get many of my photographs, sustained major damage.  Trees uprooted, RVs destroyed or damaged.  The trails are impassable for the present, and of course closed until cleanup can be completed.  The park itself, was closed for about three days, then it opened yesterday, but only to travel paved roads.  Most of the RV sites have been cleaned up.  Here are a few photos that showed the damage.  The bird blind took a “direct hit’ I was told.  The roof was partially blown off and the fence was down.  I wasn’t permitted to take the trail back there to get a photo.

San Angelo SP storm damage

San Angelo SP  storm damage.

San Angelo SP storm damage

San Angelo SP

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.  One lady obtained a cut on her head, when she got slammed around when her RV trailer got tipped over.  For me, this was one of the worst storms I had seen in years, in terms of the widespread damage.

This morning Ann and I finally made a serious attempt to see some birds and for me to get a couple of photographs.  Birding was slow but a couple of shots made it worthwhile.  Here are those results.

Swainson’s Hawk

Common Nighthawk

That is all for this post.  To see more photos, or make purchases, click the “Bob’s Gallery” button at the top of the page.  Enjoy!

Check my New Gallery Page


Hi there everyone.  I am always trying to think of ways to improve this blog.  I think you will really enjoy my new Gallery page.  Just click the Gallery button at the top of this page, or click here.  The photographs are stunning.  You can scroll and scroll and scroll.  I will keep adding to them almost daily as I try to get all of my photos in it.   Try it out.

In other news, the weather has been nice here again,   The storms have passed and the dog days of summer have set in.  I haven’t been out as much as usual lately, though.  As I mentioned, I have been working on setting up my gallery page.  Also, I am putting together a collection of photos that I will present on a local television show on June 29.  It is called Concho Valley Live, a 30-minute show that airs daily on KLST at 4:00PM during the week.  They have asked me to appear on their June 29 show. (write that down.)  I hope my San Angelo area readers will tune in.  KLST is a CBS affiliate.

Hear are some photos from the past week or so that I managed to get.  Click one any of them to see enlargements.

The Bell’s Vireo was flying between a couple of trees.  He had a companion, and they were chasing each other around.  Finally one of them perched long enough to allow me to get this photo.

Bell’s Vireo.

It seems that even though were traveling all over the San Angelo State Park, we were never away from hearing one or more Northern Bobwhites.  I managed to find this one in a tree.

Northern Bobwhite

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are now set in for the summer.  This is another from San Angelo State Park.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Making lemonade from a lemon. And other stuff.


Since my last post I have been making several excursions to San Angelo State Park, in search of usable photos.  I have gotten several, but one stands out for me.  I was at the bird viewing blind at the park.  I had my Canon 7D MarkII, with a 150-600mm Tamron lens, mounted on my monopod.  While watching, I spotted a Northern Bobwhite in the distance, about 100 feet away, beyond the water feature.  As a whim I took the photo, not thinking about it being a saleable photo.  But after I got home and put in the computer in preparation for post editing, I realized that I might be able to make something out of it.

Here is the original.  Notice it looks a little bland and washed out and overall, not a very impressive  photograph.

Original Bobwhite photo

Here is the finished product, after cropping for composition, and just adjusting the contrast, a little color saturating, and lighting adjustment.  What fun!!

Northern Bobwhite

Okay, that’s your lesson for the day.  Don’t give up on what you may think is not a usable photograph.  Just some creative cropping and minor adjusting, can give you some surprising results.

I am still looking through my images from our Davis Mountains trip.  Here is another photo of a beautiful Scott’s Oriole.

Scott’s Oriole

And another shot of one of those feisty Acorn Woodpeckers.

Acorn Woodpecker

Going through some of my photos from past years, I sometimes come upon one that I didn’t initially care for.  But after taking a second look, and doing some re-editing, I can sometimes surprise myself.  Such was the case with this Carolina Chickadee that I photographed back in 2014.  I realized that my editing skills weren’t as good then as I am today.  Of course, advancements in software and techniques really help.

Carolina Chickadee

Click on this and the other photos and see some enhanced enlargements.  It make a huge difference in viewing them.

Until the next time, Happy Birding!!

More from the Davis Mountains


I have been spending the past several days, catching up with editing my photos from our Davis Mountains birding trip.  I am really thrilled and happy that I was able to get these photographs, some of which have been on my bucket list for a long time.  Oh, I had seen most of the birds in the past, I just hadn’t been able to get the photos of them that I was satisfied with.  Anyway, here is anoatherhalf-dozen that I have ready for you.  All of them were captureded in or near the Davis Mountains of west Texas.  Click on an of them to see enlargements.

One of my favorites of the trip was this Acorn Woodpecker.  I love their clown face.  They are seen mostly in the mountains of far west Texas and southern Arizona.

Acorn Woodpecker

Formerly the Western Scrub-Jay.  It was split into different species, the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay and the California Scrub-Jay.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

The beautiful Scott’s Oriole is found mostly in west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Scott’s Oriole

This Western Tanager was pretty elusive.  He stayed partly hidden in the branches, until he finally made this brief appearance.

Western Tanager

The Loggerhead Shrike is a familiar bird all across the southern states.  Know as the Butcher Bird as he likes to impale his prey on barbed-wire or cactus spines, to be eaten at a later time.

Loggerhead Shrike

Another photo of the Woodhouse’s Scrub’Jay.  I don’t know which I like best.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

Again, I hope you enjoyed these photos.  More are coming in future posts.  Prints are available at my FineArtAmerican store at: http://1bob-zeller.pixels.com.  Just click on the image you are interested in and a menu will fall in place, letting you know what is available and pricing.  You may also buy 12×16 prints directly from me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

One of my readers, Mr. Carl White, asked for a list of all of the species from that trip.  So for all of you birders who may be curious, here is what we saw from leaving San Angelo on May 1 until coming back on May 5.  It includes birds from the Davis Mountains, Lake Balmorhea, Saucedo Wetlands, and highways throughout the areas.

  1. Pyrhuloxia
  2. White-winged Dove
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Common Raven
  5. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  6. Northern Mockingbird
  7. Bullock’s Oriole
  8. House Finch
  9. House Sparrow
  10. Great-tailed Grackle
  11. Cassin’s Kingbird
  12. White-crowned Sparrow
  13. Greater Roadrunner
  14. Northern Shoveler
  15. Cinnamon Teal
  16. Mallard
  17. Killdeer
  18. Cave Swallow
  19. Western Meadowlark
  20. Purple Martin
  21. American Coot
  22. Pied-billed Grebe
  23. Olive-sided Sparrow
  24. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  25. Brown-headed Cowbird
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. Chichuahuan Raven
  28. Lark Sparrow
  29. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
  30. Scott’s Oriole
  31. White-breasted Nuthatch
  32. Swainson’s Hawk
  33. Chipping Sparrow
  34. Black-headed Grosbeak
  35. Acorn Woodpecker
  36. Mourning Dove
  37. Wilson’s Warbler
  38. Black-crested Titmouse
  39. Hermit Thrush
  40. Western Wood-Pewee
  41. Summer Tanager
  42. Pine Siskin
  43. Blue Grosbeak
  44. Montezuma Quail
  45. Cactus Wren
  46. Canyon Towhee
  47. Say’s Phoebe
  48. McGilivray’s Warbler
  49. Bushtit
  50. Common Nighthawk
  51. Hepatic Tanager (lifer)
  52. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  53. Bewick’s Wren
  54. Western Tanager
  55. Loggerhead Shrike
  56. Scaled Quail
  57. Common Black-Hawk
  58. Eastern Meadowlark
  59. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  60. Lesser Goldfinch
  61. Northern Cardinal
  62. Black-throated Sparrow
  63. Spotted Sandpiper
  64. Green Heron
  65. Red-winged Blackbird
  66. Western Grebe
  67. Clark’s Grebe
  68. Black-necked Stilt
  69. White-faced Ibis
  70. Snowy Egret
  71. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  72. Vermilion Flycatcher
  73. Curve-billed Thrasher
  74. Western Kingbird