So I was on my way to a quite remote island off the coast of Abu Dhabi a few years ago – it was a beautiful spot on a lovely sunny day (as most days are in the United Arab Emirates), when I saw a large bird flying across in front of me which appeared to be carrying something in his talons.
As I was not driving and I had my camera at the ready I just managed to get a shot of the bird as it was swooping past – it was going reasonably fast so I only just caught it as it flew away but I just managed to get it in the frame.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a long lens on the camera at the time so this was the picture that I got:
At this point I still obviously couldn’t really tell what the bird was carrying (and in fact what type of bird it was) so let’s zoom in a bit closer:
So now you can really see that it is a bird carrying a turtle in its talons. I have to say I am not a bird expert so I don’t know what kind of bird it is except that I assume it is some kind of bird of prey! I know that falcons are very popular in the Middle East so maybe it is some kind of falcon? If anyone knows please enlighten me!
To get a slightly better look I have zoomed right in although by this point the picture loses some sharpness even though it was a reasonable SLR that I was using:
I guess that the bird has picked up the turtle for a spot of dinner although I would say it’s got to be hard to get it out of its shell.
If anyone has any info to share about the bird or the turtle please leave a comment below.
So last night/this morning was the much awaited ‘blood moon’ lunar eclipse where the moon essentially passed into the shadow of the Earth and turned a lovely red colour. This happened at about 3am in the UK and we can share with you some great photos that were taken in London by Tim Fleischman. (All photos are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced). The photos were taken with a Canon 5DSR with a Celestron NexStar SE4 computerised telescope.
Other parts of the world had different phenomena – in the US there was a total lunar eclipse but nothing much to see in Australia which just had a normal full moon.
Plenty of people waited up or got up in the night to see the lunar eclipse and there were lots of pictures posted on social media showing the view from around the UK and indeed the world.
This type of supermoon lunar eclipse last occurred in 1982 and isn’t due to happen again until 2033 so it is a reasonably rare phenomenon.
If you are wondering how you can create a photo silhouette with some free software then you could try using Google’s Picasa shoto software to get quite a good effect.
If you use the Neon effect tool in Picasa then this might give you what you are after. Using the Picasa Neon effect is simple and depending on how you use it you can get a silhouette effect or else you can have a level of detail in your photo. Personally I wanted to create a kind of chalk outline sketch effect which blanked out the features and just left an outline of the body. The good thing with this though is that you also get some of the internal lines of the image rather than just having a plain black silhouette.
How to Create This Effect
To create this effect firstly open the photo you want to edit in Picasa. Although Picasa does create a backup of your photo itself, you may want to create a copy so that you can play around with that and not worry about messing up the original.
The first thing that I do is to crop the image to how I want it to look. The crop tool is on the first edit page and you can choose what format you want to use to crop the image to: you could keep the image in the same ratio as the photo was taken or you can just crop it manually to a size that you want.
Using the Neon Effect
The Neon Effect icon is on the last page of the edit icons. I actually first used the black and white tool to change my photo to black and white before using the neon tool. In this way the colour I chose in the neon tool would not be clouded by any other colours in the picture.
With the neon effect you have two decisions to make:
firstly, the colour that you want to use for your neon effect. You can choose any colour you like with the drop picker. and you can choose how dark or light you want the colour to be.
secondly, how much fade you want to apply to the picture. The less fade you apply, the more the rest of the picture will be dark and you will just have highlighted areas. The picture on the right (and the one at the top) have no fade applied to them so that they appear more as monochromatic pictures or a silhouette as per the top one.
Other Picasa Tools
There are many tools you can get in Picasa that you pay for in other software, it really is pretty versatile. Obviously it doesn’t come close to tools like PhotoShop that you may need if you are doing detailed changes to images but for the everyday photographer it has almost everything that you need.
I find the crop tool is one of the most useful and also the fill light tool for those photos that come out a bit dark due to lack of light. You can also use the ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button which sometimes can be a bit hit and miss but other times can give you a quick good result!
If you do use the fill light tool then it can also be good to add a bit more contrast. You are pretty much in charge of what you want to do and can cancel and undo any of the changes you have made if you do something wrong.
Photoshop is probably one of the best known, if not the best, photo editors that you can buy. However, the one drawback to Photoshop is that it is expensive. There is a reason for photoshop being expensive and that is because of the extensive things that you can do with this kind of technology.
However, if you just want a simple photo editing software solution then there are other options apart from Photoshop that will not cost you as much and some of which are actually free.
Free photo editing software. Two of the most popular photo editing software suites are Picasa (which is designed by Google) and Microsoft Photo Editor. Both have their advantages over the other and in tandem can provide a lot of the functionality that you need. if you do not need complex software to adjust curves and balance then you might well be advised to just use free photo editing software.
With Picasa you can crop images, change the contrast and color balance as well as add various effects to your images like graduated tints and changing the image to black and white. You can also add text and straighten the image if it is not quite straight when you took it.
Microsoft Photo Editor is good for resizing your image if you want to change the size as you can pick exactly what proportions you want your image to be.
So if you are thinking of buying Photoshop then it is worth thinking about exactly what you want to do with your photos and if free software can do this for you. There are plenty of others available too in addition to the 2 I have mentioned. Check out this article on another free photo editing software that is more like Photoshop in it’s capabilities.
When you want to take a screenshot for whatever the reason, one of the easiest ways to do it or to actually edit the screenshot is by using Picasa, the photo editing software from Google. There is a whole lot of changes that you can do in Picasa to enhance your images or just to change them a bit and the software is free.
So, to get your screenshot in Picasa there is one essential thing that you must do. To get the screenshot you would normally just click on the print screen button on your keyboard (located between the keys and the numbers on a standard keyboard or often to the right of the function keys on a laptop keyboard), however to get a Piacasa screenshot you actually need to have Picasa open before doing so.
Once Picasa is open then you can flick back to the page that you want to get a screenshot of and hit the print screen button. Immediately that you do this you will see the pop-over appear in the bottom right corner of your screen that shoes that picasa has another image loaded. If you click on this image as it pops over it will take you straight to the screenshot, or, if you are not quick enough then you can go to picasa and in the search bar enter ‘Screen Captures’. This will take you to the screenshots that you have taken so that you can edit them.
Screenshots in Picasa are initially saved as bitmap files but you can crop and change them and then export them as jpgs without leaving Picasa.