Photo of the Week - December 13, 2010

from: Sound Transit
Link Operations & Maintenance Facility - Public Art

Safety Spires - Dan Corson and Norie Sato (2006)

Using color, pattern and shape, the artwork Safety Spires transforms the O&M yard’s Overhead Contact System (OCS) poles into a celebration of transit, technology, and nature. One of the original inspirations for this artwork, created by artists Dan Corson and Norie Sato, was a prehistoric plant indigenous to this region – commonly known as the horsetail or Scouring Rush. The patterning on the horsetail, along with allusions to bamboo and spring growth seemed evocative of the renewal, maintenance and caring for the system taking place at the facility, the artists say.

About the Artists

Dan Corson and Norie Sato joined Sound Transit in 1999 as design team artists, helping to shape the art plan for the Central Link light rail system through STart (Sound Transit’s public art program). Both artists have extensive experience creating art for public space, and are exceptionally skilled at considering a project as a whole, resulting in site specific artwork that is well-integrated, meaningful and engaging.

Gifts Galore - Books, Calendars and more...

An early reader ABC book featuring flying, swimming and diving birds of the Pacific Northwest. Full color photography is sure to excite young naturalists.
softcover 7 x 7 inches
Until January 2011,
$5 from the sale of each book goes
to support local food banks

specify calendar choices

each calendar measures 3.5 “ x 6 “
printed on archival Crane Museo cotton rag paper
mix and match!
$ 3.25 each     $ 9.00 for 3     $ 25.00 for 10
Kaleidoscopes made from photographs of plants and animals
34 page hardcover book with dust jacket
$ 42.00 each

And for those who are hard to shop for...
why not give a gift certificate for
One on One Lessons
Photoshop or Photography
contact Michele today for more info
on photographic tutoring

Solution Graphics

Cool Christmas Light Photos using Blending Layers

Creating a Festive Holiday Light Photo
using Photoshop and sandwiched image layers

Finished Image

Image #1
The image is of a string of red Christmas lights in a clear glass jar
Canon G11
exposure: 1/60 sec. at f 4.5 ISO 200
custom white balance
subject distance   about 2 feet
focusing distance        infinity
In order to create this out of focus image, I took my camera out of auto-focus and manually set the focus distance to infinity, even though I was shooting something less than 2 feet away. 

Image #2
Canon G11
exposure: 1/5 sec. at f 8 ISO 200
custom white balance
subject distance 9 feet
focusing distance 9 feet
The image is of multiple strands of white Christmas lights, photographed while panning with the camera set on continuous shooting. See image below for the strings of Christmas lights photographed without panning.
Same lights as above
no panning
Image #3
Residential Christmas lights strung on a bush
Canon G11
exposure: 1/100 sec. at f 4.5 ISO 400
daylight white balance 
subject distance 1.5 feet
focusing distance infinity
By focusing at infinity, the individual lights show up as
soft circles instead of crisp lights.

How the composite image was made -

  1. Photograph the 3 original images and download to computer
  2. Make any adjustments to color and contrast; save adjusted images as flattened files
    (jpeg, tiff or psd)
    I shot my images in RAW and made minor adjustments in Canon's Digital Photo Professional software before transferring the images to Photoshop. 
  3. Open your images in Photoshop.
    If you are using Adobe Bridge, there is a shortcut for creating a layered document.
    • Highlight the images you wish to work with in Adobe Bridge;
    • Click Tools> Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers
    • This shortcut will create one new document with all 3 of your images layered on the same canvas. Only the topmost image will be visible.
  4.  If you did not use "Load Files into Photoshop Layers" method described above, layer your files using the following method.
    • Make your second image your active image
    • Select > All 
    • Edit > Copy
    • Make your base image active. (the one you want on the bottom)
    • Edit  > Paste
    • Save your work as "holiday lights 01" or similar name in a psd or or tiff format
    • Make your third image your active image
    • Select  > All
    • Edit  > Copy
    • Make your base image active. 
    • Edit  > Paste
    • Save your work
    • Only the topmost image will be visible.

  • Make the topmost layer active
  • In the layers panel, click on the word "Normal" as shown in the photo below. Change your blending from "Normal" to "Lighten". The lighten blending mode compares each pixel of the upper layer with the layer below and displays the lighter of the two pixels in one spot. 
    for more info on blending modes and how they work, see Adobe's help file for Photoshop CS5
  • Make the middle layer active
  • In the layers panel, change the blending mode to lighten.
  • Save your work
  • If you wish, you can alter the effects of any layer by changing its opacity. For the example image, I changed Image #2 to 50% opacity to lessen the intensity of the vertical streaks. To accomplish this, I did the following.

    • Made Image #2 the active layer
    • Went to layers panel and moved the opacity slider to 50%. 

  • If you wish to post your image online or send it to a photofinisher for printing, be sure to make a copy of the image; flatten the copy and save it as a jpeg.

    • Image  >  Duplicate (File  > Duplicate in Photoshop Elements)
    • Layer  > Flatten
    • File  > Save As    file type jpg

    Finished Image

    Photo of the Week - December 3, 2010

    Common Goldeneye landing on Budd Inlet
    Olympia, WA
    December 3, 2010

    When and Where to Find in Washington
    Common Goldeneyes are among the least common breeding ducks in Washington, found nesting only in the northeastern portion of the state, with most birds nesting in north-central and northeastern Canada. From November to April, however, Common Goldeneyes are fairly common on both fresh water and calm salt water in both the eastern and western lowlands. It is one of the most common wintering diving ducks throughout much of Puget Sound, and can be found in large concentrations in the sound and along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

    combining images using clipping paths

    Note: In the full version of Photoshop, we can use layer masks to isolate a subject; In Photoshop Elements, there is no layer mask function for image layers, so we’ll be achieving the same effect using a Clipping Path.
    1. Choose two images and open both in Photoshop. One of these layers will be the background layer and the other will sit above. You may need to experiment to figure out which image works best as a background image.
      In our example, the skateboarder will be the background image. 
    2. Make your background (skateboarder) image the active image.
    3. Create a new blank layer by clicking Layer > New > Layer 
    4. Click Window > Swatches 
    5. Click on one of the vivid colors in the swatch panel (preferably one which is not in your image)
    6. Take your rectangular marquee tool and draw a rectangle around the part of the image you wish to keep.  
    7. Click Select > Inverse to outline everything except your rectangular area.  
    8. Click Edit > Fill; fill with your foreground color at 100%
      Your canvas should be filled with the vivid color you chose in step 5. 
    9. Click Select > Deselect to make your outline disappear.
    10. Use your polygon lasso, magnetic lasso, magic wand or quick select tool (newer versions of Photoshop & Elements) to begin outlining small portions around your subject.
    11. Click Edit > Fill; fill with your foreground color at 100%
    12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until your subject is completely surrounded by your vivid color.
    13. If you make an error, use your eraser tool to remove excess color. Re-outline your subject and fill again.
    14. Save your work as a psd or tiff file – you will need your layers. 
    15. Make your other image the active image. In this example, it is the graffiti.
    16. Click Edit > Select All
    17. Click Edit > Copy
    18. Make your background image the active image with the vivid color layer as the active layer.
    19. Click Edit > Paste
      Your graffiti image should now cover the background image and vivid layer.
    20. Save your work. 
    21. Create a clipping mask
      1. In Photoshop CS2 or newer, Click Layer > Create Clipping Mask
      2. In older versions of Photoshop, Click Layer > Group with previous
      3. In Photoshop Elements 8, Click Layer > Create Clipping Mask
      4. In earlier versions of Elements, Click Layer > Group with Previous
    22. Save your work.
    23. (Optional) Use your move tool to move your topmost layer to a desirable position.
    24. (Optional) Crop your image
    25. Save your work.

    Photo of the Week - November 25, 2010

    Early Snow
    Squirrel Footprints in our Backyard
    November 25, 2010

    Photoshop Exercise - Fixing Perspective

    1. Open your photo in Photoshop
    2. Duplicate the Background layer by clicking Layer > Duplicate Layer
    3. Create a grid for aligning your image
      1. On the full version of Photoshop, click View > Show > Grid
      2. On Elements, Create a new layer (Layer > New Layer)
        Choose your Brush Tool
        Hold down the shift key and drag a horizontal line; release the mouse
        Click your mouse and then hold down the shift key and drag a horizontal line; repeat in horizontal and vertical stripes until you have enough of a grid to align your image.
    4. Make sure “Background Copy” is your active layer
    5. Begin Transforming:
      1. In the full version of Photoshop, Click Edit > Free Transform
      2. In Elements, Click Image > Transform > Free Transform
    6. Move your cursor off one of your corners and rotate the image until one edge is vertical (your image may work better if the straight edge is horizontal)
    7. In our example, the door has a perspective problem.
      Right Click (Ctrl Click in mac) and choose Perspective.
      Drag the upper right corner straight up so that the top edge of the door is parallel to one of your horizontal guides.
    8. In our example, this does not resolve all the perspective issues.
      Place your cursor in the middle of the right edge and drag down until you have an equal amount of perspective distortion at the top and bottom.
    9. Drag the upper right corner straight up so that the top edge of the door is parallel to one of your horizontal guides.
    10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the perspective tool has done all that it can
    11. Right Click (Ctrl Click in mac) and choose scale (or free transform)
      Drag the right edge out until the panel nearly fills the space.
    12. Right Click (Ctrl Click in mac) and choose distort
      Pull on the right hand corners until they are perfectly square.
    13. Hit the enter/return key to finish the transformation.
    14. Turn off your grid
      1. On the full version of Photoshop, click View > Show > Grid
      2. On Elements, make your grid layer your active layer and delete it.
    15. If you are finished with your image, flatten your image by clicking Layer > Flatten image.
    16. Save your work

    Photo of the Week - November 18, 2010

    Waiting for the stoplight to change
    November 18, 2010
    Bellevue, WA

    Photo of the Week - November 17, 2010

    Containers from the Port of Seattle
    being loaded onto trains for
    transport across the country
    Seattle, WA
    November 17,2010
    In April of 2008, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) began using four wide-span, electric, rail-mounted gantry cranes at its Seattle International Gateway (SIG) intermodal yard. BNSF is the first railroad in North America to install these cranes, which not only produce zero emissions on site, but allow more flexibility, increase capacity and reduce the need for diesel trucks to move containers within the facility. The new cranes increased BNSF’s capacity at the facility by about 30%. They span three tracks and are a green solution as they produce zero emissions, are quieter than the equipment they replaced and can regenerate power each time they lower a load.
    To see the trains in action, head down to the SODO district of Seattle.

    View Larger Map

    Photo of the Week - November 12, 2010

    Barn Beach Reserve
    Leavenworth, WA

    Barn Beach Reserve is the home of a nature center, Icicle Arts, and the Upper Valley Museum at Leavenworth, on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. The Reserve and an adjacent city park combine to create a protected greenbelt of more than 50 acres of mature, streamside forest that includes Blackbird Island, a popular stop on Audubon's Great Washington Birding Trail.

    Last weekend, Barn Beach hosted my talk "Migrations: the Transformative Power of Birds and Nature". It was a fun event, with a good turnout and an enthusiastic audience. In addition to hosting events like mine, Barn Beach also hosts Leavenworth's annual Bird Fest in the spring and offers environmental education to school and community groups.

    If you wish to visit the beautful town of Leavenworth and Barn Beach Reserve, head out onto US Highway 2 from either Wenatchee or Stevens Pass and you are almost there.

    View Larger Map

    Photo of the Week - October 22, 2010

    Bus tour of the Port of Tacoma
    • Time Wednesday, October 27 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
      Another tour will be offered: Friday, Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m.
    • Location The Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Rd., Tacoma, WA
    • Get a behind-the-scenes look at the monster machines that move cargo during a free, 90-minute bus tour of the Port of Tacoma.
    • Space is limited and reservations are required. Children age 6 and older are welcome. Photo identification is required for passengers 17 years of age and older.
    • Reserve your seat by calling (253) 383-9463 or e-mailing
    More info:

    Dusk at the Port of Tacoma
    The ship in the foreground is the Horizon Consumer. To track the ship's current position, click here.
    Vessel's Details
    Ship Type: Cargo
    Year Built: 1973
    Length x Breadth: 220 m X 29 m
    DeadWeight: 25651 t
    Speed recorded (Max / Average): 22.1 / 17.2 knots
    Flag: USA [US]
    Call Sign: WCHF
    IMO: 7224306, MMSI: 368600000

    According to the Port of Tacoma Facebook Page -
    "The Horizon Consumer will be "parked" at the south end of the APM Terminals dock for the next month or so. In late November it will begin carrying freight to and from Alaska as a substitute for the Horizon Kodiak. The Kodiak will be going into dry dock for maintenance."

    Photo of the Week - October 19, 2010

    Water drops on a spider web in my neighbor's yard
    Olympia, WA

    Photo of the Week - October 16, 2010

    Photo taken in Georgetown
    Seattle, WA
    October 16, 2010
    The beautiful fall weather we have been having these past three weeks has lent to many opportunities to photograph with contrasty, shadow filled light. This peeling decal was found on the side of a graffiti and cartoon covered van in the eclectic Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.

    Migration: The Transformative Power of Birds and Nature

    November 12, 2010
    7 pm Free to the Public
    Barn Beach Reserve, Leavenworth, WA

    Join us for an evening of photographs, humorous stories and inspiring tales about critters and birds who may just hold the hold the keys to enlightenment. Or, at least know where the garage door opener is hidden! Nature photographer Michele Burton is featured photographer of "The Wild Within: Wetlands of the Washington Park Arboretum" and author of "Woodland & Wetland: Puget Sound Birds" (limited edition), and "Patterns in Nature," a book of kaleidoscope images. She teaches photography at Bellevue College, leads photo workshops. Her macro botanical images can be seen at Swedish Hospital and on a series of notecards.

    Barn Beach Reserve is the home of a nature center, Icicle Arts, and the Upper Valley Museum at Leavenworth, on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. The Reserve and an adjacent city park combine to create a protected greenbelt of more than 50 acres of mature, streamside forest that includes Blackbird Island, a popular stop on Audubon's Great Washington Birding Trail.

    Photo of the Week - October 6, 2010

    West Point Lighthouse
    Discovery Park
    Seattle, WA
    October 6, 2010

    West Point Lighthouse Essay 4183 :

    The West Point Lighthouse, built in 1881 by the U. S. Lighthouse Service, marks the hazardous shoal and northern entrance into Elliott Bay. The beacon, located in Seattle’s Discovery Park at the base of Magnolia Bluff, is a small squat tower, rising only 23 feet above the low sandy point. The West Point Light Station, which remains essentially unchanged from the time it was built, in on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to being an important piece of Seattle’s maritime history, the lighthouse continues to be a vital aid-to-navigation.

    Pleasant on Pleasant Days
    Although, seemingly a pleasant location with a spectacular view, during the stormy winter months the light station takes quite a beating. Logs and debris have been tossed up on the station grounds, sometimes against the stout masonry buildings. In 1885, a winter storm washed away much of the sandy beach and grounds at the light station. Logs were used to build a protective bulkhead and the damaged area was backfilled with sand and gravel. Over the years, large quarry rocks and riprap have been placed along the beach as a breakwater to further protect the lighthouse from the elements.

    To read more of the essay by Daryl C. McClary, check out
    To view an historic 1907 image of the lighthouse, featuring the first outing of the Seattle Mountaineers,  photographed by legendary photographer Asahel Curtis, visit Paul Dorpat's site at 

    Photo of the Week - September 30, 2010

    Check out custom photo shoes

    custom designed Keds sneakers with Michele Burton's Photographs and Kaleidoscopes patterns.

    Order yours today at Michele's* site

    2011 Bird Calendars Available - order yours today

    2011 Bird Calendars
    Each calendar measures 3.5 “ x 6 “
    and is handprinted printed on archival Crane Museo cotton rag paper
    mix and match!

    $ 3.25 each $ 9.00 for 3 $ 25.00 for 10
    To order your 2011 calendars

    Order Calendars
    specify style & quantities

    Photo of the Week - September 11, 2010

    Landscape images from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain in Southeastern Oregon

    Malheur Sunset

    Malheur Sunset

    View looking south from Steens Summit

    Photo of the Week - September 9, 2010

    Images for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Southeastern Oregon 

    (Sceloporus graciosus graciosus)
    The northern sagebrush lizard’s diet consists of ants, beetles, termites, leaf hoppers, butterflies, moths, flies and other insects, as well as spiders. It becomes active in May, with mating and egg-laying occurring in early summer. Females of this species in Colorado and Utah lay two clutches of about four or five eggs each year. These lizards reach their adult size in their second summer, with most females reproducing at the age of two years.

    This lizard occurs in rock outcrops in sagebrush and juniper communities, as well as semi-arid and mountain shrub lands, usually below 6,000 feet in elevation. It can be found in western Colorado, western Wyoming, northern New Mexico, and across the Great Basin to the Pacific coast in northern California.

    (Mantis religiosa)

    Mantis religiosa, referred to as the European Mantis outside of Europe and known simply as the Praying Mantis in Europe and elsewhere, is one of the most well-known and widespread species of the order, Mantodea. Originating in southern Europe, the European Mantis was introduced to North America in 1899 on a shipment of nursery plants. Now they are found all over the north-eastern United States and Canada to the Pacific Northwest. The European Mantis is usually 5–7.5 cm (2–3 inches) in length, and has shades of bright green to tan.
    (Nycticorax nycticorax)
    With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.

    Adult Black-crowned Night-Herons apparently do not distinguish between their own young and those from other nests, and will brood chicks not their own.

    check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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