Wednesday, June 30, 2010

(Day 181) A quiet waterfront view

Just a few miles north of us, along the road to Merrickville, there is a small body of water. It looks to me that it might be an abandoned gravel pit or former quarry. Whatever it used to be, it's been recovered by nature, and is home to beaver (yes, I saw one but had no opportunity to 'shoot' it), a variety of birds, and swarms of mosquitoes. I had intended to go there at some point today, and realized towards twilight that I had better hurry if I was to use the remaining light.

The grass surrounding it is of olympic proportions, and is undoubtedly on steroids - I was eyeball to eyeball with it as I made my way from the road to the water's edge. There I was greeted by another type of grassy plant (reeds ?) that towered over me. The beauty of all this was that I was completely out of view from the road, and in my own little world (well, shared with about 8 million mosquitoes!). I spent a very nice, quiet hour there - save for the regular sound of slapping to send deserving mosquitoes to the happy land.

(60mm  f8  1/2 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f22  1/2 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

(Day 180) Beware the dreaded Calystegia Sepium

Well, I certainly didn't know that I harboured a fondness for a noxious weed! Not until tonight, that is, when I looked for information on what I considered a rather attractive flowering vine growing in a few places on our property. Turns out this plant could get you a visit from an agricultural authority in some places if you don't take steps to eradicate it. I'm not sure if it's classified as a noxious weed where we live, but please don't tell anyone otherwise I won't have it to make photos of anymore ;-)

Today's post title comes from the headline of one of the articles I found on this plant - it went on to say that this plant strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners. It didn't say what it did to the hearts of photographers.

Oh, the common name for Calystegia sepium is wild morning glory.

(60mm  f20  1/2 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f20  1/5 sec  ISO200)

Monday, June 28, 2010

(Day 179) It was a dark and stormy night ...

Well, not really ... but it started looking like it towards sunset. I decided that I'd try my hand at monochrome (or plain old black and white) after finding inspiration from some other blogs I'd visited. I had already made some shots which would have fulfilled today's project requirements, but the clouds kept drawing my attention. These are SOOC (a new term I learned recently from another blog = Straight Out Of the Camera) except that I turned up the contrast a bit.

Note: my internet gremlins have been creeping back but this time - and likely before - they appear to be related to my ISP having network problems, which they acknowledged in a lengthy chat with their tech support this evening. Extremely slow upload/download is happening which hampers my ability to visit other blogs, look at others' work, and comment, not to mention uploading a few shots of my own. It may take me a few days to get around to visit you, till they resolve the issue. That banging sound you've been hearing was my head bouncing off my desk in frustration!

(18-55mm  f8  1/1000 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8  1/640 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

(Day 178) A rose by any other name

As we're wont to do, we went for a stroll this afternoon through the woods to the back forty. Since the pathway was rather wet from yesterday's downpour, I went back to the house to exchange sandals for my rubber duck boots. The rest of the group went ahead. As I returned to meet up with them, a strange looking bud/bloom/flower caught my eye and I knew I would have to come back to get a shot or three (we have a tacit agreement that I don't bring the camera on strolls like this since it detracts from social interaction).

I went back to the spot after our 'social' walk and made the shots below. Now, looking at the plant's stem and leaves I could have sworn it was a rose - look for yourself. But I've never seen a 'bloom' such as this - certainly not a rose. I haven't googled it yet - perhaps one of our botanist cybersleuths will know.

(60mm  f8  1/20 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f14  1/6 sec  ISO200)

Sunset Sunday (taken June 22, 2010 at Fort Myers Beach, Fla

(18-55mm  f8  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

(Day 177) Seize the moment!

It didn't look like a promising day for any sort of outdoor activities today. The sky was downright gloomy looking and a steady drizzle greeted us already early in the morning (so my wife reported - I didn't see it till a little later). The garden peas had been awaiting our return and needed to be picked for the freezer but that didn't look likely to happen either. However, just after lunch, the drizzle subsided and the sun even shone weakly through the thin overcast. Donning my rubber duck boots, I grabbed a pail and headed toward the garden.

As luck would have it, on my way to the garden I passed the pond, and there before my eyes a beautiful water lily had opened - probably in response to the bit of sun. Its siren song beckoned me to come have a closer look. I knew then that the peas would have to wait their turn as I got my camera so I could share the lilies with you. It was a good thing that I acted when I did, because I just got the peas picked after my little pond-side photo shoot when the heavens opened with a downpour that lasted most of the afternoon - when I went to check the lilies after the rain had finally stopped, they were closed up tight. Another little photography rule reinforced - the moment may not return!

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/400 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/320 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Friday, June 25, 2010

(Day 176) Familiarity doesn't have to breed contempt

It's always nice to get home after a vacation - back to familiar surroundings and routines. One of the things I can't wait to do after I get back is to walk around the yard and see all the changes - they're subtle when you see the gardens daily, but they seem more dramatic when you've been away for a bit.

There were lots of flowers to capture today but in the interest of saving some for another day I'll post a shot of the ox-eye daisy (also known as a false sunflower - yep, I googled it), and a couple of the columbine, one of my favourites, which I've grown from seed. Both of these have fairly long bloom periods and add a lot of colour to the summer garden.

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/160 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8  1/400 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8  1/500 sec  ISO200)

(Day 175) Up, Up, and Away ...

Today was going home day and it was a beautiful day for flying. Unlike the trip down, there were no delays, in fact, both legs of the journey were actually a little ahead of schedule. The aircraft on the second leg was relatively small - what I call a 'puddle jumper' (don't tell the flight crew that). I decided to make it the subject of my post tonight.

(18-55mm  f4  1/3200 sec  ISO400)

over Cleveland - engine problems ?

(18-55mm  f8  1/250 sec  ISO100)

phew - got it going again!

(18-55mm  f8  1/160 sec  ISO200)

bird's eye view

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(Day 174) Southern Plants

I'm still fascinated by the different plants that grow au naturel here in the south. I found a couple more here today - the one looks like a type of cedar but has flowers in it that look like sea shells! The second was composed primarily of very brilliant red leaves (no flowers that I could find). I'm sure someone out there in blogland will know what these are - if so, please educate me.

(18-55mm  f8  1/160 sec  ISO800)

(18-55mm  f8  1/640 sec  ISO800)

(Day 173) Potpourri

I'm a little late posting tonight because we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to go for an evening stroll along a beach. Of course ABC prevailed (to my wife's chagrin) and the sunset was stunning. However, since I need to save a few of those for Sunset Sundays, I decided to pick a couple of others to show you.

Now, first I need to unveil last night's mystery (I'll try to keep this short). I started off experimenting a bit with light and a bouquet of flowers. I made some photos but wasn't entirely pleased with the results. The flashlight I had to use had about 1 million candle power (!) and I needed to diffuse it. I had it on a chair under a glass table. I tried putting a whiskey glass (yes, empty!) on the table above it and shine the light through it - still not happy. I put a piece of paper over the glass - lost too much light. Looked for something thinner and happened on a paper coffee filter. Aha! Light was better but now I noticed a cool pattern of light caused by the diffraction from the bottom of the (still empty) whiskey glass, and the coffee filter. Abandoned the flowers and the result is what you saw in last night's post. Sometimes good things happen from experiments, scientific or not ;-) I didn't really expect anyone to come up with that!

Ok - today's story. We were sitting on the lanai enjoying that morning brew, listening to birds chirping. Suddenly around the corner of the pool enclosure a bird came screaming at full speed - obviously he'd missed his wake-up call. Unfortunately he didn't pull up in time to go over top of the enclosure and slammed head first |(well, beak first) into the screen. I thought he was a goner! I ran over to where he crash landed and found him lying on his back, feet up in the air, dazed and confused. No, I didn't apply mouth-to-mouth, but I did prop him upright on his feet. I wasn't sure if he was going to live to see another day, so I took the opportunity to 'shoot' him while he was still alive. The story has a happy ending - after about 5 minutes he hopped under the hedge, under his own steam, and took off a few minutes later. I suspect he needed a couple of aspirin and would be on restricted worm hunting duty till he recovered from a severe concussion.

My 2nd shot was taken at the side of the highway just before crossing this bridge. My wife gallantly held the fort in the car (I think I may have been parked a little illegally - "but officer, I'm from out of state; that bridge looked so lovely, I wanted to share it on the internet") while I slipped down to the edge of the bay for a few shots. I hope you think it was worth it 'cause I almost went in. Oh, and no officer appeared.

(60mm  f8  1/50 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8  1/320 sec  ISO200)

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Day 172) The 'science experiment'

Do you remember doing science experiments as a kid? You know, maybe you got one of those kits for your birthday when you were young and ended up nearly blowing your friend's thumb off or something fun like that! Or maybe you had to wait till chemistry or biology class before you got to do some cool stuff - all in the name of learning, of course. Maybe you grew some exotic new breed of microbe in the lab - similar to the exotic breeds that sometimes grow in a long forgotten, out of site place in the fridge.

Well I did some experimenting of my own today. I know, it wasn't Phun Friday, but it was time for a diversion of sorts for my 365 photo project. I haven't quite figured out what strange phenomenon I captured with the camera, but I'm sure I'll figure it out by tomorrow. I'll keep you 'posted' ;-)

(60mm  f8  1/125 sec  ISO400)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(Day 171) Light Magic

Yesterday I wrote about the weather we're experiencing here and that I was noticing a pattern. Today's weather reinforced that perception ten-fold. We were treated to a non-stop show of lightning - some very close - tremendous thunderclaps, and torrential rain (the rain gauge showed 1.5"/40mm of rain). It seemed to go on forever and I thought it might last till nighttime, with the opportunities for making photos slipping away. I tried to capture some of the lightning forks but no success (and I didn't really want to be sticking my neck out given the proximity of some of the strikes!).

Then, slowly, the dark clouds started moving away and a wonderful, magical light appeared. I tried to capture the effect it had on a couple of plants. The setting sun also plays magic with the remnants of the storm clouds, so for Sunset Sunday I've also included a shot.

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/160 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8  1/50 sec  ISO200)

Sunset Sunday

Saturday, June 19, 2010

(Day 170) All good things come from above

We haven't been here long enough to really know, but we're noticing a weather pattern. Days typically start out with clear blue skies, then become very hot (41C/103F) by mid-afternoon, at which point the clouds start roiling, and before long great thunderheads form. Then, flashes of lightning slash the sky followed by deep booming rolls of thunder - the kind you can feel as well as hear. Sometimes rain, driven by a fierce wind, comes flying past in sheets. After this fury has spent itself, it seems that the whole act is packed up and moved on to the next location. Then a gentle rain falls, as if to assure all living things that goodness also comes from above.

When things had calmed down again today I found remnants of that gentle rain still resting on some of the plants.

(60mm  f4  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Friday, June 18, 2010

(Day 169) Pink Pineapple ?

I'm still amazed to be in a place where plants like the one I shot today grow outdoors, very naturally. Are there people here who are perhaps jaundiced to the point where they don't see the beauty in the natural plants around them, like this one ? I suppose there are, just like those who live where we do might not look twice at the flowers growing locally.

Well, where we live we still can only grow these bromeliads indoors, and with good care and some luck they might even live a few years. And I believe this one is called a pink pineapple bromeliad.

(60mm  f5.6 1/100 sec  ISO800)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

(Day 168) The Master's painting

I know I'm a bit early for Sunset Sunday but I couldn't let tonight's sky painting just pass by. Yesterday's ordeal (which in the grand scheme of things pales in comparison to what a lot of people elsewhere in the world would have endured) is now mostly relegated to the annals of 'travel trauma', but hopefully not to be repeated soon.

I had little opportunity today to make photos but I didn't have to fret. The sky tonight just washed away all other worldly thoughts.

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/250 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(Day 167) Some days are diamonds, some days are stones ...

I think I could turn this blog into a musical today. We could start off with "Leaving, on a jet plane ...", followed by "On the road again ..." and then of course today's title song "Some days are diamonds, some days are stones ...".

Well, at least we reached our destination safely. finally! Here's about the only shot I could take today, given the circumstances. I took this in Charlotte, NC when they were starting to fix a flat tire on the plane. This the captain discovered after we'd taxied out to the runway and were about to start the takeoff roll. Captain: "we have an indication that we have a flat tire; we have to turn back to the terminal where I'm sure it'll only take them 30 seconds to check it and we'll be on our way." 30 seconds became 2 hours since a brake problem was also discovered. Of course that all took place after an earlier 1-1/4 hour delay. Definitely stones today.

(18-55mm  f8  1/1000 sec  ISO200)

Of course, there was a really cool cloud formation along the way after the delays, which somewhat made up for the day's problems. (and since I've been up since 04:00 a.m. I'm calling it a day).

(18-55mm  f8  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

(Day 166) Ice storm aftermath

You might be wondering why I'd be talking about an ice storm at this time of year. Canadian weather can be wacky, but not THIS wacky! No, don't worry, the weather has actually been lovely and well-behaved this spring.

However, when I'm out walking around our piece of land, the scars of the greatest ice storm in the last 100 years can be seen off the beaten path. I'm just posting a couple of photos but these scenes are repeated throughout the region. Near the beaten path I've cleaned up a lot of the tree damage, but a lot of it is in places where it's difficult to clear away. So we'll just let nature take its course and reclaim the fallen.

(18-55mm  f7.1  1/25 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f7.1  1/40 sec  ISO200)

Monday, June 14, 2010

(Day 165) Beyond Solomon's glory

From all accounts it would appear that King Solomon from Biblical times was not only endowed with great wisdom, but also with riches, looks, and glory. He was the epitome of what most humans would aspire to. And yet, despite all his glory, we're told that the flowers of the field are clothed in more glory than King Solomon was. So I went out this evening to capture some of that. Here are some more wildflowers found on our land.

(60mm  f5  1/30 sec  ISO200)

60mm  f11  1/40 sec  ISO200)

60mm  f8  1/20 sec  ISO200)

60mm  f7.1  1/60 sec  ISO200)

60mm  f7.1  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(Day 164) 1000 Islands

Today's tour took us to the famous 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence seaway. We stayed on the Canadian side of the border, crossing over the bridge on Hill Island and took in the view from the 122 metre/400' high Skydeck. What a beautiful water playground. If you've never been, add it to your places to visit and take a river cruise. Tell 'em I sent you (just so you can watch their expression when they say "WHO?").

(18-55mm  f11  1/640 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f8  1/250 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f8  1/250 sec  ISO200

(18-55mm  f11  1/640 sec  ISO200

And for Sunset Sunday:

(18-55mm  f8  1/320 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

(Day 163) Growing along the trail

Today started off rather miserably. My intention was to take my Netherlands visitors on a hike along a 'mountain' trail (now I put that word mountain in quotes because there really aren't any mountains to speak of in these parts - they're more properly called hills - but compared to the Netherlands we could consider them mountains). There was a drizzle falling steadily and the sky did not look like it would favour us any time soon. However, the rain stopped by late morning so we decided to pack a lunch and give it a try.

The weather cooperated, the scenery was beautiful, and there were countless photo opportunities, again. The mosquitoes were also plentiful and we donated several litres/quarts of good red blood as we sacrificed our bodies for the sake of making some photos. While I was able to make a variety of shots I decided to post ones of what we found growing along the trail - these were usually discovered through careful observation as we strove to not pitch headfirst into the mud by tripping on exposed roots or rocks.

(NOTE: please bear with me as I have company for a few days. I will do my best to post each day, and I will be back to visiting your blogs shortly and get caught up on your photographic experiences.)

(60mm  f4  1/50 sec  ISO800)

(60mm  f4  1/60 sec  ISO800)

(60mm  f4  1/30 sec  ISO800)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

(Day 162) The (political) hot seat of Canada

I had the opportunity today to show a couple of visitors from the Netherlands around Canada's capital. We gravitated to the seat of the federal government - Parliament Hill. Ironically they had never been inside the parliament buildings of their own country. Here are just a few of the many images made there today.

(50mm  f1.4  1/100 sec  ISO200)

hallway arches - Central Block, Parliament Buildings

(50mm  f4  1/2500 sec  ISO200)

Senate library roof overlooking the Ottawa River

(50mm  f1.4  1/400 sec  ISO200)

interior dome of Senate library

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/800 sec  ISO200)

Central Block, Parliament Buildings - Ottawa, Canada

Thursday, June 10, 2010

(Day 161) Bug 'n buglets

I don't know about you, but I'm not all that crazy about bugs. Oh I know, there are lots of good bugs that eat the bad guys. But have you ever seen a good-looking bug ? Many years ago when our kids were young we used to subscribe to National Geographic, and they had regular features on bugs. And I think they must have magnified their bug shots, especially those fearsome jaws, about 500x. I wasn't aware of this until recently, but apparently my son developed a healthy respect for bugs as a result - he said they all looked like monsters.

I don't think I've changed my mind as a result of a bug I spotted this morning, although I admit she did have pretty colours. And it wasn't until I looked at her portrait up close on the computer that I spotted what appear to be buglets on her head, and I think eggs on her back. I'm sure I've horrified you scientific types out there who just love these critters, but maybe you could help us out by giving this one a name and confirming my suspicions about the buglets and the eggs.

(60mm  f5.6  1/13 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f8  1/10 sec  ISO200)