Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year !

Many people are no doubt thinking about ringing in the new year tonight. Here's wishing everyone a good and safe celebration, and all the best for 2010. If you're making resolutions, work on them one day at a time - it's a lot easier than thinking of keeping them for an entire year!

And since I've been having fun with taking daily pictures to post to my blog, I'm resolving to keep it up for 365 days (does the 2-week trial period count ?).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Countdown ...

There's still over 24 hours remaining in 2009, but it won't be long before people will be saying that 2009 is so yesterday. Today's photo reminds us that the clock is ticking ... As someone near to me recently said - "each of us could be just one breath or one heartbeat away from eternity".

Brutal weather - beautiful landscapes

The weather turned very nasty again over the past 24 hours - the wind started howling out of the north-north-west, gusting to 60km (35 mph) and the temperature dropped from around 0C (32F) to -20C (-4F) in a matter of a few hours. It was tempting to restrict photography today to the indoors, but a foray into the outdoors that was intended to be of short duration turned into a 1-1/2 hour photo shoot, just walking around our property.. Since it was too difficult selecting only 1 photo, I've opted for a few. Hopefully you'll enjoy them, like I do ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Built for the weather

This is Sasha, our Samoyed. Unlike me, our dog loves the cold winter weather. I can endure it, provided I've bundled up properly, but she is in her element. In fact, in spring, when the sun has almost finished its task of clearing away the last remnants of snow, Sasha will find that last little bit that has survived somewhere in the shade and claim it as her own.

As we're nearing the end of 2009, I'm having to think of my commitment to the 365 photo project for 2010. I'm leaning towards going for it - although I've only run this trial for less than 2 weeks so far. I think the challenge will be in finding subject(s) to photograph on a daily basis, Perhaps I'll choose a theme from time to time and try to explore it. Decision deadline will be Thursday night. Hopefully I'll get a few followers who will provide encouragement.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The day after the day after

It's said that the period around Christmas time has the highest number of suicides of the year. Sad isn't it that so many people feel the blues at this time when we mark the birth date of The One who was sent and will 'wipe every tear from every eye'. There are people who need comfort and support from those who have seen the Light - look at the people around you and see if they need that help.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Slow down, you move too fast ...

... is what it seems the weather is telling us today. Boxing Day 2009 - you'd think that people would have had their fill of shopping and could sit back for more than a day and enjoy real life. But many succumb to the advertisers' tempting ads and force themselves out of warm beds to trudge through the ice, snow, freezing rain, etc to elbow their way to the 'fantastic bargains' in the stores.

Today we had a good soaking of freezing rain but that didn't stop the shopaholics. "Six days shalt thou labour" was given for our own good, and we ignore it at our peril.

Cribbage for Christmas ??

Christmas 2009 is already in the history books (and I missed the midnight deadline, however, I consider a post on time if it is still done prior to the 'real' end of the day).

What can the connection between cribbage and Christmas possibly be ? Well, for the cribbage aficionado (who call the game 'crib'), the photo below represents a perfect crib hand (29 points !). And Christmas day is 'perfect' when it celebrates the birth of the Saviour of the world with family. The perfect gift for an imperfect world.

And to cap off this Christmas evening, my youngest daughter and I played a few hands of crib, after everyone else retired, which is something we don't often get the opportunity to do (no, neither of us got such a rare perfect hand). Too soon it will be time to part ways again as the family scatters to various places, however, good memories were and are still being made. Make the most of these celebrations so they can be treasured.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'T was the day before Christmas ...

... and I was looking at the tree and the ornaments on it, a lot of which have a special meaning or memory associated with them, and I found this one (see below - yes, I know it's another photo of an ornament), hidden a little on the side of the tree near the wall. It was given to me a few years ago by an elementary school student on my bus and it's a tribute to the many women and men who get up early every school day to ferry students to school and back home safely. I think most of them (if not all) have a guardian angel near their bus.

If you're a parent of a school-bused child, don't forget to say thank you to your child's driver.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Season of Light

From the original Christmas star over Bethlehem to the millions of lights people put up to high-light the occasion, 't is truly the season of Light. Let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of the Saviour of mankind - in our rush to shop til' we drop: a person's life does not consist in the abundance of his/her possessions.

Today's photo reminds me of the Light ushered into the world.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Going with the flow

It's still bitterly cold here. Thankfully there isn't much wind or it would feel even colder. But in spite of the well-below-freezing temperatures, the little creek near our place continues to flow (see photo below). While the ice is starting to creep across the creek, the waters haven't succumbed to the cold entirely. Perhaps there will be some open water for the duration of winter.

It wasn't the type of day to linger at the side of the road admiring the scene too long. But there was a beauty to the sun bouncing off the snow and water, creating lovely reflections. A place to reflect on the beauty that surrounds us (George Harrison - "Isn't It a Pity").

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Life

It's hard to imagine anything beginning to grow at this frigid time of year - outdoors at least. However, we just received an amaryllis (early Christmas gift) which had already started to sprout leaves, even within the dark confines of the box it came in. Duly planted, we anticipate a showy reward in about 8 weeks.

Soaring with eagles

While I didn't get my post up to make the daily midnight deadline (got home late tonight after a 450km drive - 280 miles), I did manage to take some photos today and have posted one below.

One of my daughters has been developing a talent she wasn't even aware she had. Through her career in community nursing she comes into contact with many people, a lot of whom have amazing life stories. One of these people had been a wood carver (primarily water fowl), and had taught this skill to many students. Health issues and a dwindling supply of motivation had put an end to the enjoyment he used to derive from his carving talents. A divine hand brought my daughter and him together and when she expressed a real interest in his work he asked if she wanted to learn. That was over a year ago. Now not only has his health recovered, but his love for carving and passing on his skills has rejuvenated his spirit - a veritable transformation has occurred with huge benefits for both him and my daughter.

And below is the latest piece of work she's turned out, under his watchful tutelage, and of which we are the grateful beneficiaries.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the subject of 'crispness'

It's been quite crisp the last few days (-20C or about 4 below on the Fahrenheit scale). That makes it a challenge to take photos outdoors. But the cold does some neat things to water - making intricate patterns in the ice and creating some beautiful snowflakes or 'snowscapes'. So I put on layers of winter clothes and took a snow shovel with me to kneel on (didn't do much good as I ended up lying down on the snow anyway). I had acclimatized the camera and macro lens to avoid condensation and frost and went out to a couple of spots around the yard. There were a number of good results and it was tough to make a choice of which one to post ...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Test Run

Sometimes before committing to something it's good to do a test run. So before I completely commit to doing the 365 project, I thought I'd use the remaining days of 2009 to get a feel for taking and publishing photos every day. It should be a challenge given the busyness of the holiday season.

So for today I thought I'd introduce one of the members of the family - Lola, the resident devil. Cats may have a brain (debatable), probably only the size of a pea, but this one's devoted to doing evil. Normally she lies in front of the wood stove, but as soon as we sit down for a cup of coffee, or dinner, she heads for the plants or now, to the Christmas tree. Arrrgh !

Here's a picture of her lying near the stove, with pea-brain working overtime ...

Getting Started

Where to start ... where to start ...

Ever get the feeling you could elevate your photography above the 'snapshot' level - you'd seen photos you considered great, and you might even have taken a few yourself, but not consistently, or with an awareness of techniques that would deliver those better results more consistently ?

That's where I was earlier this year, and after having similar nagging thoughts at other times, I finally acted on it by enrolling in some evening photography courses this fall. Shall we say that things started to come into focus (yeah - bad pun, but true anyway). The mystique around digital cameras, knobs, buttons, settings etc started to be unravelled. Before long, f-stops, shutter speeds, white balance, ISO etc etc went from concepts to tools to be used to create. Now - I'm not saying that it's now all intuitive and hardly requires a second thought when shooting. That day may arrive, however, I'm still at a stage where a fair bit of conscious effort goes into thinking about appropriate settings i.e. it doesn't come quite instinctively yet. But more progress on this front in just a few months than over the years before ...

So - having renewed my efforts to improve through some formal education, I also started searching the web for all things photography related - and there is a huge amount of it out there. As I meandered through some sites I came across the idea of doing a 365 photo project i.e. taking/publishing at least 1 photo each day for a full year. I haven't started yet. But I'm leaning in this direction. I want to be sure I'm serious before I start.

The second thing I started was this blog. Never blogged before but have read lot of blogs. I'd like to keep it related to photography.

Two learning experiences for me - how to create an effective blog, and how to improve my photography. My intent is to use this blog to publish 1 photo per day, once I commit to it. We shall see - stay tuned.