Black Great Egret – artistically speaking

•February 8, 2016 • 9 Comments

Black Egret Art

Not long ago I upgraded my Photoshop CS5 to CS6. For the first time instead of the newer version taking over, I now have complete CS5 available and complete CS6 separately. This is fine if I want to go back and forth for any reason, but what was left of my C drive space was nil. So either Photoshop wouldn’t load properly, or I had to choose an external drive for scratch, or lose work in the middle of edits due to memory issues. So, since there is a process to getting rid of CS5 once CS6 is installed (a lot of deinstalling and reinstalling and all) , I decided to sacrifice temporarily Lightroom which I was planning to learn. So I am admittedly in sore need to a more robust system and a bigger hard drive for quicker work flow. And to think I thought I was set for life on computers. I know, right!!

Last night since I had a little free time and some newly freed space, I decided to pick a photo and play with artistic filters and blending modes with no apparent plan in mind other than going for a sketched appearance. This is why now you can visualize what a Great Egret with rich black feathers might look like. Kind of like a black swan maybe. The starting image was simply a Great Egret preening beside marshy waters with green pickerel weed aquatic plants in the foreground. I thought the rough drawn look and muted colors had a nice quality and thought I would share it. Sometimes people who are unfamiliar with egrets in preening positions will ask me what they are looking at with some of my images, so I hope that this is not utterly nonsensical and confusing rather than having an air of possibility to it or at least interesting.  Or maybe things look better at midnight than they should!! And, the irony is that I used only old Photoshop filters and Blending schemes, nothing unique to CS6 at all.



Wetland Friends & Wacom Signature

•February 6, 2016 • 16 Comments


_White-Winged Dove-F6A1740-wps
White-winged Dove

After a long absence from my favourite wetland rookery, I stopped by in recent travels. It was tempting to show every species I happened to take a picture of that day because it was so varied, but here is a sampling of wetland life with a couple of new visitors. The first two images are of White-winged Doves which I had never seen at the rookery before. There were quite a few scattered about the pond apple trees blending well with the muted colors of the winter branches. I do not think they were there to nest and after a couple of passes along the boardwalk they were all gone. It is early in nesting season but you could hear a chorus of Great Blue Heron chicks in the distance and other species too were nest sitting or looking for mates. The usual herons were present along with some friends pictured here including a business-like Green Heron in the dappled shadows, a hungry squirrel on a floor of pine needles, a baby gator looking out over its swampy domain, and a purple gallinule in an unusual location within a tree rather than feasting on fire-flag or pickerel weed flowers.

Besides the images I thought it might be interesting to show that I finally have my own signature on all of these images instead of my usual fun with fonts for a signature. My son gave me a Wacom tablet for Christmas, an Intuos CTH-490, which is very helpful for that sort of thing. Here is a Wacom link for the product line: Wacom Intuos . Their products are wonderful for artists much more advanced with digital art than I am. But, I am looking forward to seeing what this little tablet will enable me to do. I don’t think free handing birds will be one of those things. :) That is why I have to use a camera! You can certainly digitize your signature by writing with a marker in black on a white sheet of paper and scan or photograph it and put it in Photoshop to lay over images. Or you could make a Photoshop signature brush. But, with the tablet hooked up to your computer you can actually write onto a blank layer with a transparent background in Photoshop. Of course, I am not particularly fond of the way I write and so stacked up a few layers before I decided which one I’d start out with. I always have wanted a cool signature…one of those signatures which is art in of itself. With these images I brought over my signature layer and made it into a smart object so I could size it down on the fly. The signature is black so I just used blending for a color overlay so the signature was complementary in color or tone to the image. I found it looked too thin in some cases so used stroke in the same color to thicken the lines. Next time I will use a thicker brush or pen in Photoshop.  You can also emboss, drop shadow…whatever you want.  I don’t know if I will give up font fun, but will experiment with signature presentations as it does seem a more personal display.

A gentle visitor - white-winged dove

Green Heron in the shadows intent on fishing

Green Heron intently looks for fish in the water below.

Cute Squirrel Nibbling

My first acceptable squirrel picture. Have fought their 
nervous quickness with shadowy light 
unsuccessfully a time or two.

Baby Gator

Baby Gator already looking a lot like mini Mom or Dad!

Purple Gallinule in Green Leaves

Purple Gallinule in tree branches with colorful green 
and yellow foliage.
jalovell signature-green overlay


Well, that is the Wacom signature attempt. Did a green overlay on it
 to show up on my dark WordPress background.

Roadside Egrets under dark skies

•January 3, 2016 • 23 Comments

Egrets and Friends along Banana River Drive, Merritt Island, FL under dark skies

December of 2015 was warmer and wetter than usual here in South Florida. So while these dark images might be consistent with winter gloom, for me they are more like the rains of summer out of place in the seasonal calendar!! Florida doesn’t often have winter gloom after all!! These images were taken along Banana River Drive in Merritt Island, Florida. I was returning home from a visit with my parents, who settled long ago into this very birdy region, when I saw a great grouping of birds by the side of the road. There were all kinds, wood storks, great egrets, snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, white ibis….quite a gathering right there along the roadside! Naturally, I pulled off the road and marched boldly towards the cluster with my camera. While these are a departure from my affinity for close ups, I really loved the view of all these silhouetted shapes topping the trees with the dark clouds and bright white light behind them. It was visually interesting even though there was some internal whining about them being on the wrong side of the road with such bright light behind them. But, the shapes are elegant underneath the brewing storm and they are at home under skies gloomy or bright. I did treat these in black and white which was not a far stretch from the scene as it was. The image on the top was taken with a wide angle lens and the one below after I’d switched to my telephoto to bring them closer.

May 2016 bring blue skies and golden light and those days of grey gloom give us just a little artistic drama, nothing more!

Happy New Year!!


White Egrets under dark skies


Jest ‘Fore Christmas

•December 12, 2015 • 14 Comments

John Darby Howard being as good as he 'kin be !


Today’s hurried world makes it a bit difficult to identify with one of my favourite Christmas poems. It isn’t just that the language takes us back to a time gone by or that we hardly ever do things like chawnk green apples anymore; its that pent up excitement children have when something great is going to happen. Even a mischievous, carefree boy will settle down and mind his p’s and q’s for Christmas. So in the midst of all that ‘getting and spending’ I enjoy remembering when life was simpler, or at least seemed so, and all you had to do was be good.  Or remembering times when you played outside in the sun or jumped in a lake instead of sitting in a dark room in front of a computer monitor. Seems even the getting and spending part is inside in that dark computer cave away from the hustle and bustle of fellow shoppers with gift lists for loved ones swimming in their heads!! Does the world really have to move on so much!!

Well, maybe my penchant for the past has something to do with scanning and repairing old family photos lately. The mischievous young boy with barely contained energy,  being as good as he ‘kin be all dressed up in suit and tie for this portrait pictured here is my father, John Darby Howard. He is the one who introduced me to Jest ‘Fore Christmas by Eugene Field when I was a child. It was contained in his (and later mine too) favourite book of poetry, One Hundred and One Famous Poems, An Anthology Complied by Roy J. Cook. That well loved and tattered 1929 volume is still in the family along with many copies bought down through the years to hold and share and give.

I’d like to say that even in 1929 Roy J. Cook was aware that time and technology does move on and how much we need poetry and stories that do remind us of how special life and relationships really are. I wasn’t planning upon initiating this post to share the compiler’s Preface but will indeed introduce it before the poem. It is wonderful in its own right. You’ll notice that I have carried it with me as part of it is quoted in my blog heading.  The need for poetry and the need for retreat into nature go hand in hand. And, I like to think there is poetry in photography.


Roy J. Cooks’ PREFACE

This is the age of science, of steel—of speed and the cement road. The age of hard faces and hard highways. Science and steel demand the medium of prose. Speed requires only the look–the gesture. What need then, for poetry?

Great need!

There are souls in these noise-tired times, that turn aside into unfrequented lanes, where the deep woods have harbored the fragrances of many a blossoming season. Here the light, filtering through perfect forms, arranges itself in lovely patterns for those who perceive beauty.

It is the purpose of this little volume to enrich, ennoble, encourage. And for man, who has learned to love convenience, it is hardly larger than his concealing pocket.


Jest ‘Fore Christmas

Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain’t a girl – ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an’ things that’s worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples an’ go swimmin’ in the lake –
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
‘Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain’t no flies on me,
But jest ‘fore Christmas I’m as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat;
First thing she knows she doesn’t know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an’ when us kids goes out to slide,
‘Long comes the grocery cart, an’ we all hook a ride!
But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an’ cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an’ larrups up his hoss,
An’ then I laff an’ holler, “Oh, ye never teched me!”
But jest ‘fore Christmas I’m as good as I kin be!

Gran’ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I’ll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibuls that lives in Ceylon’s Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an’ only man is vile!
But gran’ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the Life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she’d know
That Buff’lo Bill an’ cow-boys is good enough for me!
Excep’ jest ‘fore Christmas, when I’m good as I kin be!

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemn-like an’ still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin’: “What’s the matter, little Bill?”
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an’ wonders what’s become
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!
But I am so perlite an’ ‘tend so earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father: “How improved our Willie is!”
But father, havin’ been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest ‘fore Christmas, I’m as good as I kin be!

For Christmas, with its lots an’ lots of candies, cakes, an’ toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an’ not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an’ bresh yer hair, an’ mind yer p’s and q’s,
An’ don’t bust out yer pantaloons, and don’t wear out yer shoes;
Say “Yessum” to the ladies, an’ “Yessur” to the men,
An’ when they’s company, don’t pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin’ of the things yer’d like to see upon that tree,
Jest ‘fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!


Eugene Field


Wishing everyone a joyous season wrapped in the love of family and friends, a haven away from the hurry!!


Janthina Images renews 15% discount coupon for Holiday Savings

•October 31, 2015 • 2 Comments

Janthina Images 15% Off Holiday Coupon


This Snowy Egret with its bright red lore against a field of green pond apple leaves, flies in with Holiday Savings.   Janthina Images renews its 15% Discount Coupon for Holiday Savings through November and December so that it might be helpful to those considering Florida bird, lighthouse, or landscape print images or products for holiday gift giving. While the Snowy might be flying in early with this offering, print on demand products do require some lead time and so wanted to give that advantage.Feather right

Visit in order to view the sale galleries and shopping cart options. Your visits either here at WordPress or at the gallery site are always welcomed. Feeling that photographs have absolutely no value if not looked at, I am so grateful to have the technology and places to share them and people who enjoy looking at them.


A Pebbled Landscape

•October 18, 2015 • 11 Comments

Iguana Landscape

Is it a relief map with pointy peaks, a volcano and geological folds in the earth?? Or does nature just mimic these features in a multitude of ways? No, it is the skin of a creature which has taken over the South Florida lizard scene…the cold sensitive but ubiquitous green iguana! The little pointy peaks look a little like Hershey’s Kisses or conversely the inspiration for some kind grungy nail head design. Who knew it was iguana skin?

Ok it is not a test. At least not that kind. I am getting ready for a trip and was debating whether to take my small sensor camera or my full sensor camera so I wanted to test the two lenses I was taking to be sure they were in good working order. I decided to take the full sensor 5D since I plan some landscape type pictures and people pictures as opposed to birds and have to travel very light. Decisions had to be made. So I explored my yard and was surprised to find three bright green iguanas hanging out on the dock. Two of them scattered rather quickly but one rewarded me with its cold stare… though poised to run and alert the whole time.

I just wanted to share a little play before I hit the skyways!!

Oh I did a previous post on the green iguana HERE..there is a bit more information on them.

Green Iguana on dock

Green Iguana on Dock-West End

Golden Eye of the Green Iguana

James Patterson or no? Does that look like a defiant pupil?

Happy Trails


Juvenile Tricolor Heron aka Louisiana Heron

•October 14, 2015 • 21 Comments

Juvenile Louisiana Heron

Compare this juvenile Tricolor Heron aka Louisiana Heron with the breeding adult by clicking HERE.  The two images were taken in nearly the same spot so maybe the adult is Mom or Dad to this juvenile.

The Louisiana Heron or more commonly known today as the Tricolor Heron remains one of my favourite subjects. While I probably have done a post too many on this dainty heron, I will probably do yet another if the occasion arises. Hard to pass up the ruby eyed adult or resist the personality of the young of this species as they scamper about the nesting colony. Sometimes they can really take over the place and often seem fearless in the presence of people!!


Young Tricolor Heron adopts comfortable pose on wooden beam

This youngster looks comfy with legs tucked under from its vantage point overlooking the wetland. White fluff on its bill is just evidence of recent time spent preening.


Juvenile Tricolor aka Louisiana Heron Face

I enjoy facial close ups of birds when I can get close enough for the expression and texture detail. Tricolor chicks sport spiky headfeathers early on, so what remains of those looks a tad uncouth!! But cute!


Juvenile Tricolor aka Louisiana Heron Face in Black and White

This one seemed to call for black and white to show the textures of feather, beak and eye with the lighting as it was.

Hard to believe that these were among the last of the young in the rookery for the 2015 nesting season. Now again the advent of Fall brings the promise of cooler, drier temps here in South Florida, and ushers in the beginnings of winter bird migrations into our area. Nature doesn’t stop for a minute, the cycle continues.



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