Today I went kayaking with some friends at Dyke Marsh, part of the George Washington Parkway, in Virginia. I was amazed by the abundance of wildlife I was able to see up close and personal and by the tranquility and peace (a true respite from the chaos of the DC metro area). Unfortunately, I wanted to go kayaking on one of the hottest days yet this summer--a high of 104 degrees! Not only was the excessive heat a threat, but there is such poor air quality in this area to begin with and today was really rotten. Ozone and fine particle warnings were issued, and little did I know that the air quality was code red for today (sorry, girls!). Still, my super trooper friends and I enjoyed nature and relaxation. I was so proud I didn't get my camera wet, but after I got home and started looking at the pictures I took, I was really bummed. The lighting was so poor, I suppose due to the crummy air quality, that the pictures looked washed out, boring, and monotone. Determined to get some good pictures out of such a good day, I decided to have some fun with Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Adjusting contrast, color saturation, hues, mid-tones, sharpness, and all sorts of other tricks helped give the pictures light and life. I wasn't giving up and I wasn't about to let some dumb air quality ruin my fun. I won't say much more (especially since I'm posting so many pictures on this post!); I'll cut to the chase and let the pictures speak for themselves. The first few pictures of the ospreys nesting were untouched, and you can see what I mean about the poor quality and look of the photographs. Keep scrolling and you'll probably be able to tell when I started having fun. Smaller tweaks helped make the shots with my friends better, but still looking realistic. Enjoy!