Friday, December 31, 2010

(Day 365) It's TIME

There seems to be something magical or mystical about the midnight hour on the eve of New Year. The clock turns over a new hour, new day, new month, new year, and sometimes even a new millennium. There's something refreshing about closing the chapter on the year gone by, and seeing all the new possibilities in the year just started.

For me, and many fellow bloggers, today marks the last day for our Project 365. We set out exactly 365 days ago to make some photos every day of the year and post (at least one of) them on our blogs. It's been an exciting time, an exasperating time, and a time full of learning. It's now also a time of relief (unless some out there are going to start on year 2 or 3 or 12 !). No more daily thoughts about what to shoot, and to set aside time to do so once a subject is chosen. It feels great to have successfully achieved this goal. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're interested in learning a lot more about photography, I recommend it.

As for what I plan to do now, ideas are still floating around in my head. I've promised my wife (and myself) not to do another 365 project. I'll put down a few thoughts on what it was like and what I learned from it in a near future post. I do intend to maintain this blog, but without the promise of shooting daily. I will continue to visit fellow bloggers. And I will make/take time to continue with my photography.

In the meantime, I wish all of you health, happiness, and a great deal of pleasure in your photographic endeavours in 2011.

H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R !!!

(18-55mm  f5.6  1 sec  ISO400)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

(Day 364 !) Waiting till next year ...

I suspect there will be a few extra cheers tomorrow evening in addition to those ushering in the New Year. The extra cheers will be coming from those photographers who took on a 365 project and will have completed it tomorrow - and I expect to be among them.

But that wasn't the point of my little slice-of-life post this evening. Sasha and I wandered around the yard and ended up behind the garage, where come spring time our milkweed patch will again flourish. I thought that with the winds that have blown since the milkweed ripened, all the seeds would by now have been scattered. But some of the seed is determined to wait till next year to part ways with the pod.

While I may have your attention now, I'd like to wish all my followers the best for 2011 ! I hope you have a most productive and creative time pursuing your photographic dreams, and I hope you'll be back here too.

(60mm  f4.5  1/40 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge
(60mm  f5.6  1/30 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(Day 363) Winter fun !

All good things must come to an end, and so today we said goodbye to family with whom we'd spent the Christmas holidays. We had a wonderful time, and as is always the case the time went too quickly. But before we packed things to prepare for our drive home, there was still time to go sledding with our granddaughters. We walked to a nearby hill which was fairly steep - they didn't seem that steep when I was a kid, though. Some dare-devil youngsters had fashioned a ramp out of snow, which was to be my wife's undoing - on her first run downhill, having thrown caution to the wind, she and one of our granddaughters literally flew through the air after being launched off the ramp, and came to a rather abrupt halt. We're sure her bruises will heal over the next week - my granddaughter had none as she made a 'softer' landing on top of my wife.

After that experience, the following runs were made from just above the ramp, with much better, although less spectacular, results.

(18-55mm  f22  1/100 sec  ISO800)

(50mm  f2  1/4000 sec  ISO200)


(50mm  f16  1/200 sec  ISO800)

(50mm  f2  1/3200 sec  ISO200)

an unidentified brave person fully utilizing the ramp

(Day 362) All is well

Tuesday Dec. 28, 2010

I got an invitation from one of my daughters to go with her on a trail that she frequently takes her dogs on for exercise. Given the abundance of Christmas-related goodies that have been offered me, and which I of course was too polite to refuse, I needed the exercise too. It turned out to be a beautiful area with abundant opportunities for photos. At one point, when we'd left the trail to make our own along a little creek, through all the snow, we were forced to climb a steep 50' bank. After that we stuck to the trail that ran along the ridge.

Although the sky was a dismal gray, it was a beautiful day for a hike. The water running under the ice, the snow lying thickly on fallen trees, and the peacefulness of the woods indicated that all was well. Here are just a few shots of the many I was able to make this afternoon.

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/15 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/40 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f7.1  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(Day 361) At the beach

Monday Dec. 27, 2010

You might think I'm crazy, but I went to the beach tonight, even though it was -10C/14F out. No, I didn't join a polar bear club - while I admire their pluck, I can think of much easier, less painful ways to die. In fact, I was properly outfitted for a cold evening in my heavy winter coat, zipped right up to my chin, a toque, and heavy duty gloves. Sasha of course came along dressed as she was. This looked like a nice place to get some shots when I passed by last night and that's how I came to be here late this evening.

Note: since we're out of town visiting with family I'm only able to post late at night and won't have time to visit your blog until we're back home later this week. I do enjoy reading your comments - thank you for your visits.

(18-55mm  f22.0  30 sec  ISO200)

And there were all sorts of fabulous light displays there also; here's one of them.

(18-55mm  f22.0  3.2 sec  ISO200)

Monday, December 27, 2010

(Day 360) Walking in a winter wonderland

Sunday Dec. 26, 2010

After Christmas celebrations with our son's family yesterday, we headed out for the 4-hour drive to where our 3 daughters live. We didn't realize the full scope of the change in scenery until this morning. After church we took a couple of dogs for a walk and saw what 3 feet of snow looks like in the brilliant sunshine - pretty, but I wouldn't want to shovel it !

(18-55mm  f22  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

(Day 359) A Christmas Wish

To all my blogger friends:

I wish you all a blessed Christmas. May you have a wonderful day with family and friends, as you celebrate the reason for this joyous day, and make memories that will warm your hearts for years to come. God bless you all.


(60mm  f3.2  2 sec  ISO200)

Friday, December 24, 2010

(Day 358) A new day

On the day of Christmas Eve we had an opportunity to take a quiet walk. We were surrounded by snow and ice and water, and thirty yards away hundreds and hundreds of Canada geese congregated near areas of open water. There was no one else within sight or within earshot. There was no strife in our little local patch of the creation. It felt like a brand new day. Maybe this is what things looked like when God first looked out on his creation and said that it was good.

And the coming of Jesus, which we celebrate tomorrow, signified the beginning of the restoration of his creation and all that is in it. May you experience a brand new day in your life as you celebrate Christmas.

(10-22mm  f13.0  1/320 sec  ISO320)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

(Day 357) The mad rush

The last time I was at this spot was in the spring. Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge I was standing on. As I watched the water rushing down this stream I was reminded of the mad rush of people I had encountered earlier in the day - scrambling to buy those last minute gifts. I counted myself lucky not to be in that rush - not because I'm well-organized and got gifts earlier, but because my wife is the organized one who hates to procrastinate, and she had taken care of nearly all the shopping.

So I was able this afternoon to take some time and just enjoy the scene, and make a few photographs. I hope those people that were dashing through the stores find the time to slow down enough to ponder the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place - the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. At his birth the angels sang "peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased" - the kind of peace that passes all understanding. May we all stop the mad rush long enough to ponder these great things. quietly.

(18-55mm  f10  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f16  1/6 sec  ISO100)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

(Day 356) Ode to Project 365

'T was three nights before Christmas
And all through the house,
Not a subject was ready
Not even a louse,
To become a celebrity
On a web site;
And the deadline was looming
"t was going to be tight.

When out of the darkness
In the flickering light
A subject appeared
In the deep of the night;
The tripod was readied
The camera was got
And before time had expired
The subject was shot.

(18-55mm  f5  3.2 sec  ISO100)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

(Day 355) It was a dark and stormy night ...

Well, it was dark at least but "the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas ..." and it looked like it was really snowing out. Sometimes photos can distort reality.

I went out looking for a night time seasonal scene this evening. The combination of the full moon looking pale behind the clouds that were scudding along the darkened sky, and the snow in the headlights, made things look worse than they were. In fact, it wasn't a bad night to be out at all, by Canadian winter standards.

(both shots made with a 18-55mm lens at f9.0, ISO1600 and shutter speeds of 1.6 and 2.5 sec)

click on photo to enlarge

Monday, December 20, 2010

(Day 354) Shape of things to come

The acclimatization process is underway - day 1 almost in the books. I kept the wood stove stoked all day. I even spent time outdoors this morning - I fired up the old David Brown and cleaned the 7 cm/3 in of snow off the driveway (not that it really needed it, but being outside helped with getting back into the swing of winter). Sasha was truly in her element and needed no acclimatization.

This afternoon I took the camera gear - which I remembered to also acclimatize - and went looking for some winter scenes, not far from home. Cold has a wonderful way of creating shapes that warmth just can't, and after just 30 minutes of trudging through bush and holding the camera barehanded, it certainly 'shaped' my hand. Here are a few shapes I found.

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/80 sec  ISO400)

(70-200mm  f11  1/25 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/80 sec  ISO400)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

(Day 353) Ah, back to reality

We made it home. safely. For which we are thankful. We caught a glimpse of our reality late on Saturday evening in North Carolina. We first thought that the glare of the headlights on Interstate 95 was reflecting off sand at the side of the road - wrong ! That was S N O W !

More confirmation came in Virginia, and today I managed a few shots through the front windshield (at 120 kph/75 mph - oops, sorry) in New York state. The photo tells the story. (I'm starting to feel more in the Christmas spirit already).

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and well wishes for our journey - they were very much appreciated. I will respond, and get back to my visits tomorrow. First, blissful sleep.

(10-22mm  f10  1/250 sec  ISO200)

Oh, and I didn't forget about Sunset Sunday - I have this from our last evening in Florida:

(10-22mm  f14  1/60 sec  ISO200)


(Day 352) Just this once ?

Saturday Dec. 18, 2010

I have to break the project 365 cardinal rule, just this once (well, I may have once or twice before too, but who's counting). I was totally unable to get a shot this day. We left southwest Florida early in the morning and before long, we were in a downpour, torrential at times. I started the day out wearing shorts and sandals, but by our 2nd gas stop I exchanged them for jeans, socks, and boots. We completed over 1,500 km/950 mi day 1 and ended up in Richmond, VA late in the evening. The surroundings and timing were not conducive to making photos, so I begged the project 365 gods for forgiveness.

Instead I chose this shot from my walk around the canals last Wednesday evening.

(10-22mm  f8  1/4 sec  ISO400)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

(Day 351) At the going down of the sun

Friday Dec. 17, 2010

(our cable provider had technical issues for about 7 hours this evening, hence this late post and my inability to visit anyone)

No, I don't have my days mixed up - I know it's not Sunday, and I'm not posting a Sunset Sunday shot. Since this evening was going to be our last in Florida for a number of weeks, I wanted to capture one last glorious sunset before we left. So the 3 of us drove down to what's become a favourite spot for us. My wife, not wanting to witness my 'contortions' (as she calls them) as I position myself at various angles and postures to get my shots, went and found a place to sit on the beach. Sasha and I found some vantage points where I got some shots.

The vehicle is packed and we're ready to head out early tomorrow on our 2,500 km/1,500 mi trip back to the frigid region, where snow and ice and cold prevail.

Coincidentally the 2 shots I'm posting (I couldn't just post 1) were taken when I rejoined my wife on a picnic table by the beach. Oh, and I didn't need any contortions to get these.

Note: I'm not sure I'll be able to make any photos during the next day or two, or if I'm able, whether I'll get the chance to post them. If all goes well, I'll be back Monday for sure, maybe Sunday. late. Have a great weekend !

(18-55mm  f14  1/160 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f14  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

(Day 350) A closer look

One of the benefits of photography is that it allows us to see things and events that our eyes otherwise wouldn't be able to see. That can include freezing action such as a droplet of water at the instant it lands in a puddle, or seeing an object in great detail such as an insect.

I've accumulated a few lenses over the past year and one of my favourites is a 60mm macro lens (since the sensor on my camera has a 1.6 crop factor, it acts like a 100mm lens). It's opened up an entirely new world for me and I'm still learning how to use it properly. I'm also still learning more about using my camera and its many functions. I vaguely recalled reading in the manual some time ago about a function that could be set to help produce sharper macro images - mirror lockup. So I followed the steps to enable it and went out in the backyard to get some practice (it's amazing how disruptive even the slightest whiff of wind is when trying to capture macro shots outdoors !).

(60mm  f2.8  1/320 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f4.0  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f9.0  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

(Day 349) Seconds

My 365 photo quest today was to find a canal that was lit up with coloured lights. I left just before dusk along a route where I knew I'd have a clear view of some canals from the road. Well, to keep a long story short I didn't find what I was looking for, so I settled for this.

(18-55mm  f8  1/5 sec  ISO800)

And I couldn't help slipping this one in either.

(18-55mm  f8  1/8 sec  ISO200)

And wouldn't you know it - I found what I was looking for on the way back but there was nowhere to stop. Maybe I'll try for that another day. But I was pretty happy with what I did find today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(Day 348) Ebb and flow

I've never lived by the sea, but whenever we visit there the idea seems appealing. There's something about the rhythm of life that is reassuring, like the ebb and flow of the tides. I hadn't really thought much about tides whenever we went for a walk near the water here. By coincidence we must have always been out for a walk when the tide was in.

Today, however, the difference in the view at one of our favourite places was immediately apparent.

(10-22mm  f20  1/80 sec  ISO200)

Monday, December 13, 2010

(Day 347) Connections

Have I told you before that bridges are another favourite subject of mine to photograph ? They have so many interesting angles that the photo opportunities are seemingly endless. I've just finished reading a fascinating book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge (The Great Bridge, by David McCullough, ISBN 0-671-45711-X), but no, unfortunately, I didn't make any photos of it today.

Instead, Sasha and I drove down to the Cape Coral Bridge, in its own right fascinating. A single span, 1030m/3400' long, was built in 1964 over the Caloosahatchee River to connect Fort Myers and Cape Coral, reducing a 32km/20mi drive to the length of the bridge. A second parallel span was added in 1989. I haven't been able to find out why drivers pay $2 to come to Cape Coral, but it's free to cross over to Fort Myers.

(70-200mm  f14  /80 sec  ISO400)

click to enlarge photo

(18-55mm  f14  /50 sec  ISO400)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

(Day 346) Messengers in the sky

There are a lot of things I'm not, and one of those is a meteorologist. My forecasting 'expertise' is limited to knowing a few phrases such as 'red sky at night, sailor's delight' and 'red sky in the morning, sailors take warning'. If there's no red sky at all, I have to turn on the TV or radio to find out.

Real weather forecasters of course have all sorts of modern technical tools to help them make their predictions. But in the days before all this wonderful technology, observant people would watch the sky for signs of pending weather, hence the origin of these folk wisdoms. This afternoon, armed with the knowledge of a pending cold front, we went for a walk with friends while the weather was still cooperative. One of the first signs we noticed of a 'change in the air' was the rapid change from a bright blue sky to the cloud formation below. We managed to get our walk in before these clouds gave way to much darker clouds, accompanied by a driving rain, gusty winds, and much cooler weather.

I did a little research early this evening, and I think these are altocumulus clouds (remember what I'm not). I stand to be corrected by a real expert out there. At any rate, I find clouds to be fascinating harbingers of weather to come.

(10-22mm  f11  1/1000 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

I'm trying to regularly participate in Scott's Sunset Sunday so here's one of the sunset photos I made on our recent dinner cruise:

(10-22mm  f16  1/13 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

(Day 345) Pssst - secret ingredient for losing weight

Ok, I have to tell you right off the bat that I'm not making any of this up. Have a look at today's photos - bottom and top view. Now.

We found a number of these beauties - known as horseshoe crabs - lying on the beach when we went for a walk this afternoon. Apparently, technically speaking, these are not really crabs but are more related to spiders and scorpions. I know - pleasant thought. But would you have thought that a substance found in the shells of these animals, when added to food, can help you lose weight ?

Now don't rush out and start nibbling on your nearest supply of horseshoe crabs, and don't just take my word for it. There's a wealth of information about them here, especially under the heading "Commercial Importance of Horseshoe Crabs". See - we both learned something new today.

(both shots made with a 70-200mm lens at f10, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/400 and 1/500 sec)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, December 10, 2010

(Day 344) Just phor phun

Taking a cue from Scott, I looked around today to find something phun to shoot, actually before I brought the camera out. Sometimes the eyes make a connection quickly, at other times the brain strains to come up with an idea. I walked around the house a bit, pulling out a few weeds and setting up the daily watering of the new palms (we're into week 4 of 4). As I came around the back into the lanai, I spotted something that I might be able to work with.

My wife threw me one of those I-have-no-idea-what-you're-doing-but-I'm-not-going-to-ask looks as I set about to get creative with a common object found in almost every home. Then I did a little tweaking with some editing software I had found on the internet, since I don't have PS. And just phor phun because it's Phun Phriday.

(60mm  f7.1  1/6 sec  ISO800)

(Day 343) A salty dog

Thursday Dec. 9, 2010

I have to give the weather forecasters here some credit. We awoke this morning to steady rain and heavy skies. We had planned to go on a sunset dinner cruise with good friends but it looked like those plans would have to be rescheduled. The forecasters had 'promised' clearing skies by noon, but we doubted them and discussed an alternative date. Well, wouldn't you know it - right on noon hour the rain stopped, the skies lightened and by a quarter past noon, the sun was even shining !

Late this afternoon we made our way to the harbour near Sanibel Island to board our ship. It seems there were many more doubters because the ship originally had 50 places reserved, but we sailed with 10 ! That allowed plenty of time to chat with the experienced captain at the helm.

Oh, the sunset was wonderful, but you'll need to wait a few days to see it.

(10-22mm  f16  1/80 sec  ISO100)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

(Day 342) Colour stymied

I have to confess that I'm one of those people with a limited colour vocabulary. I'm not sure if that's a gender thing. I just recall the good old high school acronym 'ROY G BIV' to remember the colours of the rainbow. Oh, and I know black and white. I'm just not that knowledgeable when it comes to colours like taupe, teal, or umber - I've likely lead a sheltered life and wasn't exposed to these.

So when I made some photos of this double bloom today, I decided I'd better ask my wife, who is much more knowledgeable in these things, what colour it was. (I had already decided that it was 'orangey'). Well, I was told that it was actually 'coral'. So now I can present our coral-coloured double bloom hibiscus.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/80 sec  ISO100)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

(Day 341) A bit of Mediterranean

No, we're not on another trip, at least not one that required lots of travel. In fact, we drove only about 15 minutes to the nearby harbour (that would be 'harbor' for Scott ;-). We've gone there a number of times - it's a very nice place to go for a walk, they don't hassle us about having a dog, and photo ops abound. Another thing I like about the place is the architecture, which, along with the colours, reminds me of the Mediterranean.

While I don't know the history of this development, there's a large faded sign near the waterfront stating there are 19 lots for sale. Alas, it looks like only one was sold and developed before the bottom fell out of the market. And I've never seen more than 3 cars in the parking lot designed for 50+ cars beside the large ornate sales office.

Here are a couple of shots of one of the promenades leading to shops and cafes. We've not experienced any crowds here.

(both shots made with a 10-22mm lens at f14, ISO800 and shutter speeds of 1/100 and 1/640 seconds)

Monday, December 6, 2010

(Day 340) iPod - where it all began

I've often wondered what it would be like to plunk someone from a century or so ago down into today's world. Take someone from 1849 who took many weeks to travel either overland, or by ship around Cape Horn, to California from Boston and tell them it can now be done in a few hours. Or take that person and walk them to the nearest switch in the house and have them flip it to turn on the lights. Or take a Thomas Edison and demonstrate an iPod for him. Can you imagine the utter disbelief and amazement they would experience ?

Today we visited the winter home of Thomas Edison, one of the world's greatest inventors. Among the many photos I made there, here are a couple of some ancestors of the iPod.

I wonder - if we could be transported 100 or so years into the future, what would cause us utter disbelief and amazement ?

(both shots made with a 10-22mm lens at f8, ISO800 and shutter speeds of 1/6 and 1/3 sec)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

(Day 339) Anhinga anhinga

I hope you don't mind learning a few things alongside me. Each day it seems we discover something new here of this wonderful creation. Some of this might be old news for folks that live here but we're finding it fascinating. Until today, if someone had mentioned a 'kettle of anhinga' to me I would likely have thought they were talking about brewing a gourmet tea. Today I learned that they would have been referring to a flock of snakebirds.

Snakebirds ? Yep, also known as anhingas (I think only scientists run around calling them by this name), and water turkeys ! We spotted this one near a pond, and since (of course) I had my camera, I was able to get a few shots. From doing a little research, this one appears to be a lone female - we didn't see a kettle of them.

(70-200mm  f8  1/25 sec  ISO800)

click on photo to enlarge
(70-200mm  f8  1/30 sec  ISO800)

I cropped this one somewhat to get a closer view

 And while we're talking about Florida, here's a sunset captured a few weeks ago
(10-22mm  f7.1  1/320 sec  ISO200)