Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(Day 334) Beauty and the beast

We've certainly discovered a lot of beauty here in the sub-tropics - plants, flowers, trees, animals. And we've only been here a short while and have lots to discover yet. Today, however, as my wife turned over a rock that she wanted me to move out of sight somewhere into the backyard, she discovered 'the beast'. I have no idea what this ferocious looking underground dweller is called but back home where we have some similar creatures I make short work of them. However, (and this is where 333 days of project 365 is starting to pay off) my wife told me to get the camera instead !

This one was 5 cm/2 in long. I'm glad these creatures of the underworld don't grow on a human-size scale.

(both photos made with a 60mm macro lens, at f5.6, shutter speed of 1/200 and 1/100 sec)

Monday, November 29, 2010

(Day 333) An international wildflower

Thanks to Leslie who identified the 'weed' I found in the lawn here 2 weeks ago, but more importantly, gave me a link to help identify more 'weeds' and wildflowers, I was able to quickly identify the subject of my post today. I've seen this one growing in many lawns, including ours, and did a little research into it. It's identified by its scientific name of Richardia Grandiflora but is commonly called Largeflower Mexican Clover, Largeflower Pusley, and Fairy Cups. It originated in Brazil.

Various sources identify it as an invasive weed, while others call it a wildflower. No matter what you decide to call it, it looks pretty nice, and the bugs on this one like it too.

(60mm  f14  1/8 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Sunday, November 28, 2010

(Day 332) Harrumph !

Well, I'm assuming that's the sound a cat makes when it's having its portrait taken and it doesn't want to be disturbed. And if it doesn't make that sound, then it's pretty evident from its facial expression.

No, we didn't adopt a Florida cat, although my wife fell in love with this 19 lb fur ball the instant she set eyes on it. It actually belongs to the gentleman who looks after our home here when we're not here. It was definitely not amused as I interrupted its nap with a click.

(18-55mm  f11  1/400 sec  ISO200)

 For Sunset Sunday I offer up the following, taken 1 week ago:

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/500 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

(Day 331) Eine kleine nachtmuziek ...

... is all that was missing from the scene this evening. Sasha's expectations have been set that we take her for a walk after dinner - normally that's when the temperature makes it a little easier for her. We decided to drive down to one of our favourite places where we could walk around and take in the warm evening air. Wish you were here.

(10-22mm  f11  1.6 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

(Day 330) Wheel phun

Phriday Nov. 26, 2010

On our way home tonight we saw that rides for a fair were being set up. I hadn't taken my camera bag with me (I know, ABC - 30 lashes for me) but my excuse is that I had planned to go out after we got home to make some night photos. Instead, I went home, got the camera, and headed back out here to make a few shots. Since it was Phun Phriday I took some liberties with one shot and used free software I found on the internet that allowed me to play with the colours. I liked this result better than the original. I think people will have wheel phun on this ride once it opens.

(70-200mm  f9  1/5 sec  ISO800)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(Day 329) Count your blessings ...

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends (but this isn't restricted to America).

(60mm  f2.8  3.2 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(Day 328) Git yer own fish, buddy

They don't seem to be so dog-friendly down in these parts. There seem to be all sort of restrictions as to where you can take your dog - even though we keep Sasha leashed and we do the PPP routine. So, in keeping with my policy of ignoring dumb rules, we found a nice little community park with all the prerequisites for a lovely outing - near the water, it had a pier, trees for shade, some picnic shelters, no cost ... but they didn't allow dogs. Not to be deterred, we walked down to the pier, Sasha in tow. After spending some time enjoying the scenery and watching a not-yet successful fisherman, we headed back to the car to get our packed lunch. From a distance a woman was yelling that no dogs were allowed in the park - not even on the paved road ! I didn't give her the satisfaction of letting on that I'd heard her, but we packed up and set off for another area.

We did find another, lovelier, area and had an enjoyable lunch under the trees. As I lunched, little black biting bugs lunched on me - ah, the food chain - and I thought humans were always near the top. However, our ouster from the park led us to an area we might otherwise have missed, and where I found the subjects for today's post. Have you ever witnessed such a supercilious look ?

(both photos made with a 70-200mm lens at f8, 1/250 sec, ISO200)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Day 327) Put up yer dukes

Or, put up at least one !

I have no idea what kind of crab this fierce-looking specimen is (I'm sure one of the Florida-resident bloggers will let us know). We found him/her along with a few buddies near the shore of one of the many inlets of the Caloosahatchee River (what a cool name !) when we were out for a walk this morning. Every few seconds they'd raise their big claw in the air and snap at some imaginary (?) thing. Either that or they were spoiling for a fight.

(70-200mm  f11  1/100 sec  ISO200)

click on photo for a larger view
(18-55mm  f11  1/250 sec  ISO200)

looking at the inlet; the crab was found to the right of the walkway

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Day 326) A face only a mother could love

At the cost of my much-needed sleep I was aroused early this morning because the subject(s) of today's blog entry were marching across the yard. Before I could open my eyes properly I had to fiddle with the lens and camera settings - good thing I can almost do that by braille now. I knew enough to have the lens set to AF, because my eyes were still on manual focus which wasn't functional yet.

Despite that, I sneaked around the side of the house and managed to make a few photos. As I quietly came around the corner to my neighbour's driveway and prepared to get a few good closeups, the neighbour's dog started barking hysterically - and that marked the end of my stalking. I think I need to go to bed earlier - just in case.

(all photos made with a 70-200mm lens, at f8, 1/60 sec, ISO200)

the 'ugly' ducklings


the Muscovys waddling along, seconds before they were forced to make an emergency takeoff

Sunday, November 21, 2010

(Day 325) Million dollar view

I went out late this afternoon to make a few photos from among which I could choose to post one here. I set out for the local harbour to where I'd been directed a few days ago by a neighbour. thank you. The area looks like a fairly recent development, and just like some of the newer malls, is very nicely done.

The buildings appear to be part of a large(r) condominium complex, and the development offers properties both for sale and for rent. I have no idea what the purchase or rental cost might be, but the second photo shows what the view would be like from the building in the first photo.

(both photos made using a 10-22mm lens at f7.1, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/60 and 1/160 sec)

This is also my shot for Sunset Sunday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

(Day 324) Contentment

Dogs are pretty simple creatures. It doesn't take a whole lot to make or keep a dog happy:

 - they like to know that someone's in charge
 - they appreciate being fed. and watered. regularly
 - they respond well to being spoken to and treated kindly
 - they like to have a place to call home
 - occasionally they like to be scratched in those hard-to-reach places

 - they don't care if they get the same food every day, although a treat every now and then is nice
 - they greet you with great enthusiasm whether you've been gone 5 minutes or 5 days
 - they don't need to be entertained with the latest toys, in fact, a stick or ball, or simply going for a walk is lots of fun
 - they don't worry
 - they have patience. usually
 - they have a pretty good work/life balance - tilted a little towards life

I think we could learn a lot from our dogs.

(10-22mm  f7.1  5 sec  ISO200)

Friday, November 19, 2010

(Day 323) Splish splash, I was having ...

... a blast ! It's Phun Phriday and I was at a park near the harbour while my wife did some Christmas shopping (who do you think was having more phun ?). By the way, it feels weird thinking about Christmas while the temperature is around 27C/81F - I mean, it should be snowing and blustery and about -5C/23F ! No matter, despite appearances neither Sasha nor I (nor the lens) got wet but we did have phun at the park and even got to see a(nother) possum - this time in the wild. He ambled off into the brush before I got his portrait, and before Sasha could get a taste of possum on the hoof. Hope you had some phun on your Phriday !

(both shots made with a 70-200mm lens, at f11, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/400 and 1/640 sec)

click to enlarge

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Day 322) A horticultural transformation

I like making before and after series of shots, something which I'd been doing before I became 'serious' (whatever that means) about photography. Typically that involves projects in which something is either built e.g. a cabin, or something is significantly modified e.g. the interior of my son's home. I find it interesting at a later date to look back at the 'before', and the steps undertaken to create or transform something.

In that vein, I followed the progress of creating a small garden to replace a section of (boring) lawn at our place in Florida. I can take no credit for the work - oh, I did help move a few bags of mulch (!) - I simply recorded progress along the way.

(note: all photos were made using an 18-55mm lens at f8 with shutter speeds and ISO settings varied according to the light available)

the 'virgin' piece of lawn
outlining the target area
fascinating how a curb is created
resting, hardening, awaiting the next steps the following day
the 'grass' is removed - I put 'grass' in quotes because the lawn seems to be made up of 'grassy' vines, all intertwined to make a mat
arrival of the 'Bismark' - the tree, not the ship. The contractor's heavy duty bobcat had broken down earlier and the smaller one could not lift the tree - with some ingenuity, the tree was eventually coaxed from the truck and into the waiting hole
 the Bismark is ready to be launched from the back of the truck which was positioned over the hole
next, the first of 2 foxtails is moved into position - it was within the bobcat's capabilities
releasing the protective covering from around the Bismark
with the palms in place, small bushes, which will add colour, are quickly planted
transformation complete. You might note the changes in light over the last 6 photos - the job was originally estimated to take about 2 hours, but equipment breakdown (heavy duty bobcat) resulted in delays and more manual work. We are very pleased with the results, however.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Day 321) The epitome of patience

I went out tonight after dinner to fulfil my obligation to my project 365 master - that would be me. I think another thing I've learned from doing this is that photography is a solitary endeavour. It's you and the camera and what you see. Personally I would become bored quickly if I had to follow someone around to watch them capture what they were experiencing, since I wouldn't or couldn't be part of their space.

Enter Sasha, our dog. When she sees me reach for the camera bag, she gets that bewildered look on her face - 'can it be true, are we really going out ?'. Little does she care about where we're going, for how long, what the light will be like, nor a thousand other little details. Impatiently she waits at the door, and then makes a beeline for the car. And at the destination, she'll patiently follow me around and sit and wait as I fiddle with gear and make as many images as I want. And if it lasts a while, she'll gladly lie down and wait longer - kinda like in today's photo.

(18-55mm  f8  1/2 sec  ISO800)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

(Day 320) All other ground is sinking sand

Hurricane season is almost over. Unless you live in a hurricane-prone area that likely means little to you. I've never been in a hurricane, and I'm not sure I'd really want to. The highest winds I've ever experienced occurred in Calgary and they only blew at 100km/60mi per hour. The chairs on the deck blew up against the house and we even found one cedar chair about 30m/100ft away. People that have experienced a hurricane are likely thinking 'big deal'. I just can't imagine winds of 250km/150mi per hour !

I've noticed something about some of the trees here in Florida. You've all seen pictures of palms bending in hurricane force winds. But I've also noticed other, very large, trees that don't seem to be able to bend and that are too large to have grown since the last hurricanes swept through this area in 2004. They have endured the storms because of their strong foundation.

We all need a strong foundation when the inevitable storms of life come, or we'll be swept away.

(10-22mm  f7.1  1/2 sec  ISO200)

click to enlarge

Monday, November 15, 2010

(Day 319) Upon closer inspection ...

Today while I was doing PPP duty (pet poop patrol) I found something a little more aesthetically pleasing than the object(s) of my prime objective. I've noticed that the lenses of my eyes have been sharpened over the past year (no, I still need reading glasses) - it's something I've mentioned in previous posts - and now I see beyond the lawn and objects to be removed from it.

I found a small number of these little yellow flowers, only about 1/2" in diameter, growing in the grass. I'm still learning so I don't know if they're weeds, or desirables. Seems they keep their heads down just low enough to escape the lawnmower's blades, so I'll just leave them be too.

(60mm  f14  1/4 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

(Day 318) On golden canal

We've been exploring the neighbourhood by taking Sasha for walks, especially in the evenings when it's a little cooler for her. Across the street is a canal which ends about a block west of us. I decided to walk there late this afternoon to see if there might be some 'wildlife' near it. I did spot a couple of turtles making their way leisurely across it, and a few fish jumped, but I found no alligators lurking by its banks. As the sun was setting, however, the north bank took on a golden glow, and I sat by the edge and watched it deepen. Even though this spot is in the suburbs and cars whizzed by just a few feet behind me, there was a sense of solitude. It was only broken when 3 youngsters appeared to do some fishing. And they assured me that YES, there were certainly alligators in that canal - THEY had seen one before ! Guess I'll have to come back here again in that case.

(18-55mm  f14  1/8 sec  ISO200)

Since it's Sunday I'm also posting a sunset photo as part of Scott's Sunset Sunday theme. This was taken yesterday evening from the bridge to Pine Island, which we discovered is only about a 10 minute drive away.

(10-22mm  f7.1  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

(Day 317) Whooooo are you ?

If there's anything I've learned by doing a 365 photo project it is the ABC rule - Always Bring Camera (you might think that ironic coming from someone who flouts rules, but I try not to flout rules that have a basis in common sense). I tend to drag my whole camera bag along with its assortment of lenses because I'm never sure which lens would be optimal till I come across the opportunity. The times I 'score' far outweigh the times I get skunked.

And today was another day that I'm glad I followed this rule. We were walking towards a farmers' market in town to buy fresh fruit and vegetables when we saw a roped-off area on an open lot, marked by a small wooden cross. Looking closer I noticed a hole in the ground - I thought it might have been home to a gopher tortoise. But no, the little fellow below came up for a look, and he was more interested in Sasha - who took no notice - than us.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/800 sec  ISO200)

burrowing owl
(70-200mm  f14  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Friday, November 12, 2010

(Day 316) Having phun in the sun

In keeping with Phun Phriday we decided to get in a little R & R today, with Englewood Beach as our destination. In keeping with the spirit of rest & relaxation, I didn't even have to go and chase any subjects for today's Project 365 post. In fact, as you look at today's photos, you might even say I had the best seat in the house.

(credit for this photo: my wife)

(70-200mm  f8  1/640  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f8  1/800  ISO200)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

(Day 315) A different shopping experience

I'm not much of a shopper. If the world depended on people like me, the economy would remain mired in recession for years to come. I see it as a necessary evil. My typical shopping experience involves knowing what I need, (usually) making a beeline to where the item is located (or finding someone who can direct me there), paying for it, and leaving. The end. Full stop. The only variation in the routine comes when I (have to) go shopping with my wife. Then I get to drive the cart and provide helpful suggestions like "I think we have everything now".

Tonight I drove to the nearby outdoor mall, willingly, on my own (well, Sasha came along because she loves rides to anywhere). No, I didn't actually go shopping. This mall must have been built during more positive economic times - instead of just the usual asphalt jungle, the builder created a much more pleasing environment. See what you think.

(18-55mm  f5.6  1.3 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Day 314) Something to crow about

Do any of you remember Aesop's fables ? I have a vague recollection of having read a number of them, and the lesson of a few of those have remained with me. Memory is a rather selective mechanism, however, and it's surprising what can trigger the gears to recall something from its deep recesses.

This afternoon we went for a stroll to a nearby park on the waterfront. There were a variety of birds there and they were somewhat accustomed to people. I watched the antics of some crows for a little while and I was amazed at how one of them, with its pointy beak, was able to get several mouthfuls (beakfuls ?) of water from a shallow puddle on the pier. The scene reminded me of this Aesop fable. I think that several of his friends were also impressed, judging by the looks on their faces.

(both shots made with a 70-200mm lens, aperture f11, ISO200, shutter speed 1/400 and 1/125 sec)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

(Day 313) If you believe ...

I recall, when I was young, being told about the man in the moon. I'm sure many people have similar recollections. I don't know what made it seem plausible at the time, but then again children's imaginations usually haven't been blunted or stunted yet by the realities of the world. A lot of things were quite possible for me to believe - and they weren't limited to the tooth fairy, Sinterklaas (Santa Claus), and the sandman (remember him ?). Eventually most of that 'magic' is lost.

I was reminded of that tonight when I looked into the evening sky. I'm old enough to remember the moon landings, but apparently there are people who are convinced that they were faked. Perhaps they still believe in the original man in the moon. I was reminded of this song which you also might remember (no, it's not as old as the moon landings).

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/20 sec  ISO200)

Monday, November 8, 2010

(Day 312) Palm balm

There's something soothing about seeing palm leaves swaying in a light breeze against an azure sky. Ever since I set eyes on such a sight (way back in my youth) when I first visited Florida, that mental image and its connotations has remained with me. The small patch of 'rough' weather (I use the term loosely) we just had, has given way to those clear blue skies and warm temperatures that are key ingredients in the Sunshine State experience.

As the sun was dropping quickly late this afternoon I was compelled to capture a few images.

(All shots made with 70-200mm lens at f7.1 and ISO200, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/250 sec to 1/320 sec.)

click to enlarge

palm tree in autumn, with fruit


Sunday, November 7, 2010

(Day 311) House 'guest'

We're learning lots about living in the sub-tropics. There's a certain amount you can learn by reading and then there are other things that are learned through experience. We were somewhat aware of some of the bugs that live here, and so we signed up with a pest control company. Since they sprayed and set up baited traps, we've swept up a bucketful of cockroaches - dead, I may add. Living in the country has taught us that having mice in the house is not unusual - I've set my share of mouse traps over the years and disposed of many mice.

During the first evening here last week when my wife was putting clothes into the bedroom closet, she thought she heard a scratching sound coming from the attic area, right above her head. I came and listened - these were not mice, unless they grew to several pounds in the sub-tropics! The scratching sound was accompanied by the occasional thump, and shuffling of feet. I immediately thought of raccoons.

At first light the next morning my wife was already on the phone to pest control. They came, and recommended a wildlife removal firm who came and set traps in the attic. Each morning thereafter I was to check the traps - before breakfast - and call if a trap was occupied. We were assured this would likely happen within a day or two. Not so. Two more traps were added outdoors yesterday where it was thought critters might climb onto the house to gain entrance. This morning I was roused from a deep sleep and told to check the traps. By now you know I had to record the results.

As of this writing we're still waiting for the 'guest' to be taken away to a more suitable place. And we await the next steps since we've also been assured that there will be more than one guest.

(70-200mm  f8  1/30 sec  ISO200) - for both photos

Now, if you're still reading, I haven't forgotten about Sunset Sunday, so I offer this shot, taken a few days before we drove down here:

(10-22mm  f11  1/8 sec  ISO200)