Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(Day 243) A macro view

I always thought that to take a macro view of things was to step back and look at the bigger picture - as in macro-economics. It seems a little strange to me that in photography a macro view means to get in close and look at the details.

The calendar tells us that summer is waning, even though today the thermometer climbed to 33C/92F again. The weather people are forecasting a high of 16C/61F for Saturday ! I decided that I'd better take a stroll around the gardens again and capture those late summer blooms before they succumb to fall weather. I'm glad we're able to take a macro view of plants and flowers which reveal details that the unaided eye (at least mine) doesn't see.

(60mm  f14  1/200  sec  ISO200)

this portulaca must have come up from re-seeding - I haven't planted any here for 2 years! There are now about 6 plants with varying colours. I noticed that the hotter the weather and the poorer and drier the soil, the better portulacas do

(60mm  f14  1/25  sec  ISO800)

I only planted morning glories once, and they too keep re-seeding themselves. This one found its way through the rocks
(60mm  f14  1/5  sec  ISO200)

this is actually a weed and the flower is less than 1cm / 1/2 inch in size, but it looked photogenic

(60mm  f3.5  1/100  sec  ISO200)

these are phlox, just waiting to unfurl their petals

(60mm  f22  1/10  sec  ISO200)

and here's a bouquet of phlox (still in the ground though)

Monday, August 30, 2010

(Day 242) Evening thunderstorm

We had a rather hot and sunny day (33C/92F) - a last summer fling before temperatures inevitably start cooling again. While I was doing some late day lawn mowing I noticed that a thunderhead was starting to obscure the sun. I didn't think much more of it as I headed out for a bit of a photo-shoot this evening, not quite sure what I might find. I kept an eye on the sky though as I drove west - the thunderhead had grown larger, and with the late day sun was taking on some interesting colours. Suddenly the skies opened and large drops were dashed against the windshield. And just as suddenly they stopped - an intense 30 second downpour!

I pulled over to the side of the road to capture the sun coming around the clouds. After a few shots I continued my journey and soon passed some baseball diamonds - the players hadn't stopped their games for the brief outburst. I parked near the diamonds and watched as the storm clouds roiled in the evening sky. Other than a few flashes of lightning and rolling thunder, it appeared that the storm's fury was short-lived.

(all shots were made with a 10-22mm lens at ISO800; aperture varied from f8 to f11 and shutter speeds from 1/800 sec to 1/80 sec)

taken just after the brief downpour

the clouds gathered towards the east
the setting sun reflected off the clouds
after about an hour, the thunderhead had consolidated and was heading east

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(Day 241) Taking full advantage

Years ago, when we lived near Calgary, we'd often go for Sunday afternoon drives out to the mountains to marvel at the wonderful creation. One of the notable things about living in that part of Alberta was the large number of days with sunshine and no clouds (just like the refrain in "Home, Home On the Range"). In fact, we now call a day like that an 'Alberta Day'. We had gotten out of our Sunday afternoon drive habit over the past few years, although we had done some 'exploratory' touring around when we first moved to this area.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how we tried to go for a Sunday afternoon picnic and got rained out. Well, today the weather forecasters got it right, and after church we packed up and set off for another spot along the Rideau. We took full advantage of an incredible Alberta Day. Here's what it looked like.

(10-22mm  f11  1/160 sec  ISO200)

part of the mechanism to open a lock; action at the locks always attracts onlookers

(10-22mm  f11  1/250 sec  ISO200)

the 'flotilla' leaving the lock

(10-22mm  f11  1/320 sec  ISO200)

just below another lock, ships can tie up; I think most were out on the water

After forgetting for the past 2 weeks, I remembered that today we celebrate Sunset Sunday by posting a sunset shot. In case you're not familiar with this great idea yet, visit the originator, Scott. He always has stunning sunset shots, as well as countless other beauties, and provides lots of practical tips - even on html! Here's my contribution, taken from our back yard on Aug. 17:

(18-55mm  f5.6  1/100 sec  ISO400)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

(Day 240) There IS light at the end of the tunnel

Yes, literally!

I've walked around this area before, when we were in town, but either didn't have my camera with me or the time wasn't opportune to make some photos. Today I deliberately went here.

'Here' is the railway tunnel, the first of its kind in Canada, that runs for over 525m/1,700' under the town of Brockville, Ontario, including city hall! And surprisingly, it was in use until the 1970's, having first been used in 1860.

(10-22mm  f3.5  1/6 sec   ISO200)

visitors can enter the first 25m/85' of the tunnel

(10-22mm  f3.5  1.6 sec   ISO200)

the remainder of the tunnel is inaccessible - note that the tracks have been removed. The pinprick of light in the centre is the far end (north)
(10-22mm  f3.5  1/6 sec   ISO200)

BUT, there IS light at the (south) end of the tunnel ! ... and it's NOT a train !

Friday, August 27, 2010

(Day 239) Tickling the ivories

I admire those who can play a musical instrument well - not just technically proficient, but also with a real feel for the instrument and the music. I once aspired to learn to play the piano - my oldest daughter, who was quite young at the time, was taking lessons and I decided I could learn too. The realities of raising a family, working full-time, and earning a university degree through part-time evening studies soon pushed practice time to the background, and I withdrew from further lessons.

I thought back to those days again today when I saw the grand piano in our church. I made a few images of some parts of that instrument that produce, with the right person tickling the ivories, some of the most moving music known.

(60mm  f4  1.3 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f11  2 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f11  2.5 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(Day 238) Farm country

We live in a rural area, about 2 km/1.5 mile outside the nearest village (yes, it has a general store), and about 25 km/15 miles from the nearest town. As with all locations, I suppose, there are pros and cons, and there are people who love living in the countryside and those who don't. A couple of the many things we like about rural living is the spaciousness and lack of traffic. It still takes lots of land to produce the food people need, whether veggies or meat. I took a short ride this afternoon and captured a few images.

(10-22mm  f8  1/500 sec  ISO200)

wide open spaces
light traffic

historic buildings
(70-200mm  f8  1/640 sec  ISO200)

and friendly farm animals

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(Day 237) The tranquil Rideau

I was drawn today to another part of the Rideau system, back to a place where one of my daughters and I had gone fishing a couple of years ago. There's a dam here, used to control spring floods, and a lock for recreational boaters, which is used to bypass the 2.8m/9' height differential in the river. I had the area almost to myself, save for 2 local lads who were alternating between fishing and jumping 5m/15' off a small bridge into the cool waters below.

Note: all photos were shot at f11, ISO200 at varying shutter speeds with a 10-22mm or 70-200mm lens.

above the dam; the canal and lock are further to the lower right (not in photo)

buoys act as a warning to boaters of the dam ahead

 this scow is used for maintenance on the waterway e.g. to place buoys

a freshly-cut beam which is used in the dam to control water levels

the dam, used to control flooding on the Rideau

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

(Day 236) Found among the flowers

It was time to mow the lawn again, and I saw that the wildflowers behind the now-empty chicken coop (yes, we had to give the chickens away now that our chicken sitter is off to college) were doing very well. I'll have to post a photo or 2 of them soon. I decided to have a closer look there after the mowing was done, and I noticed a lot of activity among the flowers. Here are a few examples of what I found.

(60mm  f5.6  1/160 sec  ISO200)

not sure what this one was
(60mm  f5.6  1/250 sec  ISO200)

another view

(60mm  f5.6  1/250 sec  ISO200)

this hornet wasn't drinking the nectar; he was here on a more nefarious mission
(60mm  f8  1/250 sec  ISO200)

a busy bee checking out a thistle flower

Monday, August 23, 2010

(Day 235) The enchanted forest

I can't remember how old I was when the hard truth dawned on me that leprechauns and elves didn't really exist. Isn't that a wonderful time though, when you're young and your still vivid imagination can get caught up in stories about those magical little men and women who inhabit the secret places in the woods.

This morning we had the chance to go on a leisurely walk with our oldest daughter, and our 2 granddaughters. They're at the age still when the 'education' system hasn't destroyed their sense of magic and illusion and imagination. Little people can still live under mushrooms and the forest is still an enchanting place. Here are a few shots of our experiences today.

(10-22mm  f5.6  1/500 sec  ISO800)

doesn't this look enchanting ?

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/100 sec  ISO800)

one of the 'magical' mushrooms in the forest

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/50 sec  ISO800)

surely home to some of the little people of the forest !

(10-22mm  f11  1/200 sec  ISO800)

the bench with a view where we tarried a while

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/50 sec  ISO800)

the demolition crew at work - even in the enchanted forest, the old must make way for the new

(Day 234) Hanging by a thread

Sunday Aug. 22, 2010

The weather forecasters sure were off today. We had traveled 450km/280mi yesterday to celebrate our twin daughters' birthdays, and a barbecue had been planned for today. However, a light drizzle had already changed our plans from a back yard event to an indoor one. The forecasters had predicted that a light rain in the morning would give way to sunny skies by early afternoon. I hope they didn't buy lottery tickets this weekend because were they wrong ! By mid-afternoon the light drizzle had given way to a steady downpour.

But I digress. I did manage to produce a nice batch of barbecued hamburgers before the downpour really got underway. While everyone was arriving, at our family's usual staggered times, I had done my inspection of the flower gardens (which we had created last year from a barren and quite muddy back yard). I noticed several spider's webs with droplets of drizzle suspended in them. And so, while the weather forecasters may have delivered lemons, the weather actually produced 'lemonade'.

(60mm  f5.6  1/250 sec  ISO800)

(60mm  f11  1/100 sec  ISO800)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

(Day 233) Up the creek

We're blessed to have a few small creeks within a few minutes' drive. A couple of years ago we had such a dry summer that one of these creeks went completely dry (the same year we could climb to the bottom of our 5m/15ft deep well). With the exception of a couple of storms it's been fairly dry again this summer and so there wasn't much water running in this creek again. I decided to grab some rubber boots and take a short walk up the creek.

All the photos were made with a 10-22mm lens, aperture at f11 and ISO800, with shutter speeds of 1/125 sec (1st photo) and 1/20 sec for the other 2.

pickerel weed

the water was fairly shallow

I discovered these beautiful wildflowers along the stream - no idea what they might be

Friday, August 20, 2010

(Day 232) Those lazy days of summer

I think everybody has their own definition of what makes for one of those unforgettable summer days - and that likely changes with age. I remember as a kid I could hardly wait for those final school days in June to be over - then the endless summer would begin! Warm days of going down to the creek, building a (rather leaky) dam with rocks that would raise the water from 2 feet to perhaps 3 feet deep, eating lunch outdoors, and some years even going on vacation for a week ! It seemed September and a return to school was eons away !

Now we're happy with a day when it doesn't rain and isn't too hot, and we can find a cool spot in the shade to dig into a book long neglected. Today was a day like that, minus the book part. Sasha was following me around to see if I was up to something interesting (she's the ONLY one who finds going on a photo shoot with me interesting - or at least she doesn't let on otherwise). It's been a while since she's made it on my blog, so I had her lie down and look interested (in case you're wondering what the command for that is, it goes like this - "Sasha, LOOK!", click). I deliberately underexposed a bit so she and the clouds would stand out a little more.

(10-22mm  f8  1/640 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

(Day 231) Bird feed

I knew what I wanted to make a photo of today, because I had made a mental note of it some days ago. I thought I'd go out this evening when the light was soft, to capture it. However, by early afternoon the clouds had gathered into an ominous-looking sky and it didn't look like there might be much opportunity later. So, based on lessons already learned in this 365 project, I decided to get out and shoot while the shooting was good, or at least possible.

Here's what the sky looked like as I hurriedly got set for a few shots:

(60mm f8  1/640 sec  ISO400) 

Within minutes after getting my shots, the wind started howling and trees were bent almost to the ground. After blowing all the dust into the next county, the wind then delivered a torrential downpour - sideways. However, I'd made my shots and here's my pick:

(60mm f8  1/60 sec  ISO400) 

Of course the sun shone this evening as the storm had cleared away. I didn't go and see if the storm had blown all the berries away, however.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(Day 230) Putting on a show

We dropped by our son's home this afternoon, after a lengthy walk through a greenbelt area that connects various parts of the town we live near (well, 25km/15mi). No one has lived there since May when the renovations started. The water in their above ground pool is a rather murky shade of green, a Virginia creeper has crept over the entire gazebo, and plants in the small veggie garden are at least 3 feet tall ... and they're not veggies ! My son has tried to keep the lawn cut on a semi-regular basis and has pulled out the odd weed so the place doesn't look totally overgrown.

Some of the plants, in addition to the Virginia creeper, seem to be doing just fine without any fuss and attention. I found this one - I think it's a hibiscus - blooming profusely even though no one was there to enjoy it - at least until today.

(all photos were made with an 18-55mm lens, aperture of f8, ISO200, and shutter speeds of 1/800 - 1/400 sec)

Oh, and while we were there, I made a few photos of the renovations. You might recall what the demolition scene (third photo on this page) looked like; here's how it looks today looking down the front hall into the kitchen at the rear and living room off to the left. I'll post the results when they're (hopefully) done in another few weeks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

(Day 229) A foot on two continents

You may have heard a few sayings about the Dutch, some of which are self-deprecating - "wooden shoes, wooden head, would'n listen!" which describes their at times stubborn nature, and the other side of the coin - "if you're not Dutch, you're not much" which can be ascribed to their national pride. Well, I am, or was, or maybe to some extent still am, one of them.

I was born in Holland and emigrated to Canada at the age of 6 with my family. Certainly the Dutch, as many European immigrants did, assimilated quickly into North American life and culture. However, like many immigrants, there were always little ties back to 'the old country' as it quickly became known. Some of these were related to food (you wouldn't believe some of the things the Dutch put on their bread!), or customs, language, or expressions. But for the most part, you'd be hard-pressed to pick a Dutch immigrant out of a crowd of Canadians (until the World Cup is underway perhaps).

While my feet are firmly planted on this side of the big pond, I've learned a lot about, and take pride in, my heritage. Today's photo is of a little reminder, that we have hanging by the front porch, of that heritage. Known as 'klompen', I can still recall wearing them as a young lad in Holland - they weren't fancy like these though.

(70-200mm  f11  1/40 sec  ISO200)