Play Misty for me

This week has seen some changes and they herald the new season. Three mornings ago I awoke and something was different. I couldn’t quite make out what it was. Slowly the net curtains of my brain were pulled back and I realized I could hear bird song. The quiet of winter seems to have passed and the volume has been turned up. The territorial proclamations are being made, courtship songs belted out and the activity levels are moving from lethargic to frenetic. I love this time of year. A week or so ago I saw my first Red-rumped swallows, Hirundo daurica. Timing is spot on. According to the Avifauna of Hong Kong small numbers are recorded during the Winter but numbers start to spike up around the beginning of March. However numbers are already rising in the second half of February so they have obviously read the book. We are hoping our barn swallows, Hirundo rustica, will nest in the garage again this year. Last year they had already hatched a family when one night the nest was destroyed, we fear by vandalism but we can’t be sure. My wife was very upset as she loves to watch them feeding the chicks – the parents busily ignore us as we drive in and out of the garage. Once they have fledged the youngsters often sit on the lamp post adjacent the house so we can watch their early efforts at flight.

As I write this I can see a flock of house swifts, Apus nipalensis, hunting insects on the wing. The joy of flight, the fun of the swoop and soar, stoop and stall, magnificent birds the swifts and swallows.

I have also heard the Koel, Eudynamis scolopacea, calling. They can be a nuisance if they take up residence near your house for they keep very different hours from us. These cuckoos call well before dawn and the crescendo of their call often culminates in a hysterical ringing cry.

When I eventually open the real curtains I am interested in whether the light is likely to be interesting to me as a photographer. My retirement time increasingly revolves around tide times, light, wind and rain. Low tides for Nam Sang Wai. High tides for Mai Po. Good light for pretty much anything. Soft, warm, golden rays can make even my efforts look passable. And an absence of wind can be good for bugs and macros. The elements are in charge. A few days ago the sight that greeted me was layers of mist stacked over the bay and islands. It looked good. So I pulled on a pair of jeans, grabbed my Leica and hoofed it up to the roof to take a few frames before feeding the dog.

Here is the frame I chose to keep, processed with and without sharpening. I processed the file first in Silver Efex Pro and then finished it off in CS4. I prefer the unsharpened version but its your choice.

Have a good Spring.


Misty too

And with acknowledgement to Sandra I have added a third version with the trees blurred – very crude but everyone has to start somewhere 🙂

Misty too B(lur)

10 thoughts on “Play Misty for me

  1. outstanding images. I enjoy to follow blogs that highlight different areas around the world as I have never traveled much, only once to arizona. its interesting to see the area you live in, and your photography skills do not disappoint. i will enjoy to follow.. ; )

  2. Hi Andrew, I probably was not precise enough – sorry 😦
    What I meant is the following: after sharpening the image, select the blur tool from the tools panel. Set threshold to something between 5 and 15 (not too strong) and adjust the size of the brush, normal blending mode.
    Then paint over the areas of the image that seem to be over-sharpened, the trees i.e.
    The effect should be subtle and the idea is to get rid of the over-sharpened look without blurring the parts.

    Anyway, it does not look bad with blurred trees in the foreground 😉

    HTH – cheers,

  3. Hi Andrew, what a gorgeous scene and I really like your thoughts about the season, isn’t it lovely? I found the first snowdrops and winter aconite yesterday – just three days after the Siberian cold was gone!
    I prefer the sharpened version because the hills come out nicer. However, the leaves and trees in the foreground are a problem as they easily look oversharpened. Have you tried to use a blur filter over the leaves after sharpening? I’ve tried it on my recent image of the “Black forest” and found it easy to use and quite effective.
    Have a nice day – greetings from Switzerland, Sandra

    • Thanks Sandra. We are very lucky living with a view like this. It took my wife 18 months of searching to find this house and we were sold on the view immediately. We face almost due East so we get very nice sunrises when the conditions are right and unlike HK Island we have relatively clean and clear air.

      I am not very advanced on post-processing and just beginning to get a bit more adventurous, experimenting a little. I always get confused by the blur filters as to what the different ones do but I guess I should just plough ahead and see what happens 🙂

      Gruß aus Hong Kong!


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