Monday, February 28, 2011

Reflections of the past

Saw this at a small classic car show yesterday afternoon:

(18-55mm  f6.3  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Although it's past the midnight hour for Sunset Sunday, I thought I might sneak this shot in:

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Note: we are blessed with company again for most of this week so my posting, and visiting you, will likely continue to be sporadic. I do take a peek when I get the chance and read all your comments - for which I'm most thankful.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter blahs be gone !

In my virtual travels around blogland I've seen people take different approaches to winter. [I need to digress momentarily and let you know that this is the first year we voted with our feet not to enjoy the many pleasures that winter can offer by heading to warmer climes. We're also all too familiar with the dreaded feeling that usually sets in around this time of year that winter simply will not end.]

Some people tackle winter head on: they strap on skis or skates, or hurtle downhill on toboggans and other conveyances and later gather round a bonfire with rosy cheeks while defrosting various parts of the body. Others ensure a good supply of books and firewood and hunker down to wait for spring. Still others deny the existence of winter altogether and pass the time viewing and posting photos of happier (read 'non-winter') times. But most of them by this point in the winter are more than willing to close this chapter and get on with spring.

So I thought I'd share a couple of shots made today to help move the yardsticks forward - no, nothing that will affect the weather - I'm talking about the mental yardsticks. And no, these aren't growing outdoors here (although our bougainvillea are lovely).

Enjoy - spring is just around the corner ! It's never failed to come yet.

(60mm  f6.3  1.6 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f5.6  1.0 sec  ISO400)

Moment of glory

It's a little-known fact that Kingston, Ontario was briefly (1841-1844) the capital of what was the fore-runner of the nation of Canada, then known as the United Province of Canada (Upper Canada - Ontario, and Lower Canada - Quebec). This period prompted a building boom, and many fine buildings of limestone were constructed. Kingston became known as the 'Limestone City'.

In 1842 a competition was held to choose a design for the city hall. The cornerstone was laid in June 1843, and by December 1844, the building was completed at a cost of 25,000 pounds vs an estimate of 10,000 pounds (some things never change). Over the years, fires damaged some parts of the building (e.g. the cupola was rebuilt in 1909). Although Kingston is an important regional centre and boasts a world class university and medical research facilities, it never gained the prominence once envisioned by many. While it has all the conveniences of a large modern city, it has retained its small town atmosphere.

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/200 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tide's out ...

... or at least that's what it looked like to me at this point on the St. Lawrence River. Although the St. Lawrence is influenced by ocean tides, their effects disappear far from here, at Trois Rivières, Québec, so I'm not sure how this apparent high water mark developed on these rocks. It's possible that plants are/were growing in a narrow band to create the illusion.

(60mm  f8.0  1/15 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foggy mirror

We were greeted by a rather misty morning today. Since I'm not an early morning person (unless you're referring to the time before I go to bed) I hustled to have my shower and get out with the camera before having breakfast. The fog would soon be dissipated by the sun so I applied lesson #2 from my 365 project.

(18-55mm  f11  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back to the future

As I was combing through the archives I came upon a series of shots I made in spring last year (although I only needed one shot per day for the 365 project last year, I quite often found myself carried away and I'd make 50 or 100 shots in a day - no, not all were keepers). If all goes as planned (which is largely out of our hands), I hope to see scenes like this soon after we make our way back north.

(60mm  f2.8  1/500 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ho hum, another sunset - NOT

It's a rare evening in southwest Florida when there isn't a sunset to be captured. So as often as circumstances permit, Sasha and I head out in search of a new venue. She, of course, could care less as long as she comes along for the ride. I usually try to make mental notes throughout the week of places where we encounter a beautiful sunset and I'm not able to shoot it at the time (usually to my chagrin).

Earlier this evening we pulled over along an expressway just before the causeway over the Caloosahatchee River (no - I didn't ignore the 'No Parking' signs ... because there weren't any). Here's one of the scenes I captured.

(10-22mm  f9.0  1/400 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

You might also want to wander over to Scott's blog for a look - he's the originator of the Sunset Sunday theme.

Pool-side guest

I spotted this 'visitor' inside the screened-in pool area today. From a distance it looked a bit like an anole, but as you can clearly see, that wasn't the case. I'm not sure if these creatures can jump but I was glad I had a camera between him and me.

(60mm  f10  1/125 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge (if you dare)
(60mm  f14  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No bare feet

... and no explanation required !

(10-22mm  f13  1/200 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts by the sea

Walk with me by the shimmering sea
And you will find, as the waves gently
Caress the shore, that you more and more
Yearn for simpler times and the days of yore.

(70-200mm  f11  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Evening stroll

We took our guests to one of our favourite places for a sunset stroll. The evening air was calm and (relatively) warm. Many others were out to enjoy a quiet time by the waterfront. I found the ambience of the evening reflected in this scene.

(18-55mm  f5.0  1 sec  ISO800)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Line up ... smile ... click

I set out this afternoon to try to find some large birds that we had spotted along a highway a few weeks ago. I found the highway and drove up it for a number of miles - nothing to be seen. Several miles further I finally spotted some birds in the water-filled ditch. I pulled onto the shoulder and got out quietly. These were the same ones - they were quite wary and while I managed to make a few shots, they flew off before I got within close range. I drove several more miles but the ditch came to an end so I reluctantly turned to head back home disappointed. The ditch on the return side appeared to be almost dried up.

As I came near the end of the highway where I had to turn off, I noticed what appeared to be construction ahead. I slowed, and then noticed a large excavator removing plant material from the ditch. And there, surrounding the digging, were scores of egrets, ibises, some herons, and the birds I was after. The noise of the excavator drowned out any sound I made, and I was able to capture what I was after. These 'beauties' are known as wood storks, and they lined themselves up nicely to have their photo made before taking up new positions on the other side of the ditch.

Note: our popularity with our friends and family in the frozen north was ratcheted up a few notches when we bought a home in Florida. We have company again for the next few days which will limit my time to visit and respond to comments. I hope to continue to post during this time.

(70-200mm  f10  1/320 sec  ISO200)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Over the moon

That's how I feel for having recently been honoured by 3 fellow bloggers who awarded me the

Thank you Darlene at My Life For A Year
                   Joseph at CarreraCaballo's
                  and Cat at The Whimsical Gardener

Now according to the 'rules' I need to reveal 7 things previously unknown about me - that's the tough part because you know I've been like an open book ...

  1. I try to avoid politics (here on my blog) but let me just say that I don't like how we're letting ourselves become ensnared ever more deeply into a nanny state
  2. I hate having those 'senior moments' where I temporarily set something down only to have it 'disappear' in an instant - I'm still searching for a pair of glasses I set down a week ago
  3. psst - promise not to tell ? ok. I like speed - the car type. Nothing really crazy mind you, just driving at the speed that's 'appropriate' for the road conditions e.g. not feeling limited by the posted 'guidelines' on an empty highway on a sunny day. I have a little Tiburon GT in the garage back home (you should see it corner !) and we just bought a Mustang GT convertible here (I would really love to have had the Shelby, but ...)
  4. I think I have developed patience, although I will admit to having a little less of this on the road with drivers who obviously got their licence out of the cereal box
  5. I'm an unabashed night owl; years ago I learned to operate on less than 6 hours of sleep (6 is nice though); hence sunrise shots are rare on my blog
  6. when I travel to places I find it hard to sit still - I like to explore wherever we go; a real punishment would be to force me to lie on a beach doing nothing for more than 15 minutes
  7. I rarely watch TV but love to read a variety of history books (recent ones: The Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, The California Goldrush of 1849; currently reading The History of Coffee; on deck - The Great Depression). I also just read this fascinating online book.
Ok, that was probably more than you bargained for. I'm also supposed to give this award to 15 (?) newly discovered (by me, I think) bloggers. But you already know that I'm not always that good at following 'rules' so I'm splitting this assignment into 2 parts. Part 1 I completed above and I promise to do part 2 this week.

(70-200mm  f11  1/250 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Creator's signature

There are few scenes more glorious than a sunset. A sunset can gild any setting, even a suburban one. Scott started a Sunset Sunday theme one year ago - feel free to join in by posting a sunset on Sunday. Note that the sunset does not have to occur on the Sunday (as I mistakenly thought at first). I have 2 shots to share today - the first was made yesterday evening from our front lawn. The second was made 2 weeks ago as I was scurrying back to my vehicle to avoid a parking ticket.

May there be just enough clouds in your life to create a glorious sunset !  (author unknown)

(18-55mm  f6.3  1/25 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f8.0  1/30 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winging it

The definition of impossible - 'sneaking up on wildlife in an airboat' !

A few days ago (it already seems like weeks ago) my son and I visited the Everglades. Part of that experience included an airboat ride. They provide ear covering for a reason.

I have to admit it was a bit of a challenge to capture birds on the wing from a fast-moving platform. Continuous shooting mode was my friend that day.

This great egret must have had a good day of fishing - he was a bit slow getting off the water. For which I was thankful.

(70-200mm  f8.0  1/2000 sec  ISO200)

Friday, February 11, 2011

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil ...

Continuing with my bird theme, I found these three trying their best to imitate the famous monkeys, on one of our beach strolls recently.

(70-200mm  f11  1/400 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Down the hatch

This bird (a juvenile cormorant ?) put on a display of fishing prowess for us yesterday. It would disappear underwater in pursuit of fish for what seemed like minutes at a time. I captured it as it surfaced and proudly displayed its catch for us. Then it deftly manoeuvred the fish in its hooked beak and swallowed it.

(70-200mm  f11  1/400 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A fine feathered friend

We spent the last day with our guests at Sanibel Island. It was a glorious day in many ways - the weather was sunny, and warm once we moved to the lee side of the island, we saw dolphins cavorting just off shore, and a number of birds came by to entertain us. Among the feathered entertainers were a few snowy egrets, smaller cousins of the great egret. They weren't shy by any means, having likely grown quite accustomed to the many visitors. I was able to walk to within a few feet of one of them, and they seemed to mingle quite easily with other two-legged beings on the fishing pier.

(next 2 photos - 70-200mm  f11  1/500 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

note my snowy egret friend mingling with the crowd on the pier waiting for a fishy morsel (this fish was released after the requisite photos were made)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Look, but don't touch

No visit to southern Florida is complete without a visit to the Everglades. Today my son and I were faced with the monumental decision of whether to go shopping with the ladies or go on an airboat tour to see some wildlife. After agonizing over this for about a millisecond, the Everglades won out.

Surprisingly we didn't see any reptiles on the airboat tour, although we did see a lot of different birds. However, along a canal which ran beside one of the highways, we saw countless alligators. In places there were 4 or 5 grouped together, lounging in the sun, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings, but undoubtedly ready to lunge at anything that resembled a snack. In other places large, lone creatures had staked out their territory.

Alligator numbers have rebounded significantly over the past 25 years, and we saw ample evidence of that today.

(70-200mm  f20  1/40 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Clean up crew

Being somewhat migratory 'birds' ourselves, we've noticed some feathered friends down south that we also have in abundance, in season, up north. Lately we've seen, but more often heard, red-winged blackbirds - I expect they'll be heading north around the same time we will be. But we've also seen another bird in large numbers that we saw quite often back home - the turkey vulture, or buzzard as some people call them.

They feed primarily on carrion which they can spot and/or smell from some distance. They have a magnificent wingspan that can reach over 170 cm/67 in. The parental instinct must be strong because vultures have faces that only their mothers could love.

(70-200mm  f11  1/400 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday bloomer

One of the traditions my mother started quite a number of years ago was to give each of her children and older grandchildren (those with their own home or apartment) an amaryllis for Christmas. These came with a pot and potting soil - just add some water and watch them bloom, usually within 6 - 8 weeks.

Since this was to be our first winter in Florida, we naturally brought our bulb with us, and I promptly planted it outdoors. Within a couple of days, the stem that had started to sprout in the box had straightened, and yesterday the bulb started to open. Given that its natural habitat is also sub-tropical, I foresee a trip to the nursery soon to get more of these beauties.

(ps - our visitors are exploring the area on their own today, so I have some time to post, respond to comments, and perhaps make some blog visits)

(70-200mm  f10  1/160 sec  ISO200)

click on photos to enlarge
I like to join in Scott's Sunday Sunset theme by posting a sunset shot. For today's contribution, I'm posting this 'pelican at sunset' shot:

To see Scott's Sunset Sunday shot, have a look here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lunch time

As we walked around with our guests today at one of our favourite spots, we happened upon this green-backed heron waiting patiently for his lunch to come within range. We watched him for a few minutes but his patience exceeded ours. Obviously he had more at stake.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/320 sec  ISO200)

End of the dream

I discovered this place on one of my forays into the countryside near our place a couple of years ago. As I wandered around the abandoned property I tried to imagine the lives of the people who built this home, had children, and tried to make a go of the farm.

I made some photos here in b&w but I found the colour contrast significant. Perhaps as one of their last acts as the dream was crumbling around them, they tried to put a fresh face on the inevitable. Who knows ...

(18-55mm  f4.5  1/50 sec  ISO200)

Friday, February 4, 2011

On golden dome

The dome of the Colorado state capitol in Denver was gilded in 1908 with 200 ounces of 24-karat gold ! We were able to tour the capitol site (outdoors only) on our visit there last October. It's an excellent example of neo-classical architecture, and has an interesting history behind it. I made this shot from our hotel room balcony.

Note: we have company with us for the next week and my time to post daily and to visit fellow bloggers will be quite limited - hence today's late post. I will find time to read all of your comments; I just may not be able to respond until later next week.

(70-200mm  f8.0 1/800 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Secret to a good life

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ...

(70-200mm  f6.3  1/25 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I walked by a door this afternoon, which was slightly ajar, and noticed a cool reflection. Grabbed the camera to make a series of images and I liked this one best.

(18-55mm  f14  25 sec  ISO200)