Saturday, April 30, 2011

Caught in the glare

It was one of those decision days again today - go shopping, or do some chores and then take the camera for an outing. Ok, I'll be honest - I wasn't invited to go along shopping - it was a ladies-only event. But I did get the chores done, which included mowing some parts of our lawn (don't you just love the smell of freshly-mowed grass ?).

I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, but I always leave myself open to be hijacked by other opportunities. My eyes do a weird split-screen as I drive - one eye stays focused on the road but the other is scanning all around ready to alert me if something interesting comes into view. Sure enough, barely 3 minutes from home I'm already forced to pull over as I caught the glare of sunlight coming through the still naked trees to illuminate something on my left.

I did eventually make it to my destination.

Note: please bear with me as I'm struggling to visit all of you. I'm not sure whether the recent wind storm knocked our fixed wireless access out of kilter (again) but our internet is quite slow (again). It can take many minutes to load some blogs, and more minutes to view photos and leave comments. At this pace it may take a week to make the rounds I used to be able to do daily. I'm not ignoring you - I will come for a visit. Thank you for your visits and comments.

(18-55mm  f7.1  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mellow Yellow

It's difficult to avoid mentioning the weather since it plays a large role in our lives. Just 2 days ago, we painted the living room during a humid 30C/86F day, livened up a little with a couple of thunderstorms. Yesterday dawned warm again, but by late morning the wind had picked up, and our grandson, Graydon, wasn't too happy going out for a stroll in it. By early afternoon we were experiencing sustained winds over 80 km/50 mi per hour, with gusts up to 120 km/75 mi per hour. Then the power failed.

The high winds continued into the late afternoon, and they gradually decreased by evening. We were spared any wind damage and the power was restored after about 8 hours. I can't imagine what those poor folks in the southern US endured when tornado winds of 320 km/200 mi per hour came roaring through - they surely need our prayers.

The wacky weather blew the heat away - temperatures dipped to 6C/43F overnight and only rose to 12C/54F today - but I was pleasantly surprised to see that our forsythias barely lost a blossom, despite the howling winds. Many utility poles and large trees were snapped like toothpicks and yet these fragile little flowers clung tenaciously to their stems. It defies logic.

(60mm  f5.6  1/80 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f9.0  1/50 sec  ISO200)

My backyard photo shoot was cut a little shorter than planned when this sky moved directly overhead and more blessings rained down upon us.

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/1000 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When wrong feels right

I guess weathermen (weatherpersons ? ok, meteorologists) are somewhat like economists - they quite often have a gloomy forecast and we love it when they're wrong ! Well, ours turned out to be quite wrong today. for the most part.

Yesterday's forecast calling for another rainy day went out the window already early this morning. The sun shone through some broken cloud cover and the temperature soared to 30C/86F, a tad (that's a technical term in meteorology meaning we were way off) warmer than the predicted high of 20C/68F ! We weren't complaining - even though my wife had chosen today for us to repaint the living room.

Now I suppose the weather people could claim a moral victory of sorts - we did catch a 15-minute thunderstorm this afternoon, and another this evening. And as you can see from this photo, our little 'creek' - which is dry about 9 months of the year - was still flowing with runoff from April's abundant showers.

I don't like to wish anybody ill, but I sure hope these weather gurus are wrong for the remainder of the week.

(10-22mm  f11  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rainy Day Blues

For a little background music for this post, you could do worse than listen to this.

I hope no one who reads this is from Vancouver (if you are, you'll be able to relate to this):

A woman was attending a conference in Vancouver. Each morning as she went to catch the bus outside the hotel to go to the conference centre, it was raining. On the third day, it was again raining incessantly as she clutched her umbrella at the bus stop. Exasperated, she turned to a young boy who was also waiting there.

"Young man", she asked, "tell me, does it ever stop raining here ?"

The lad turned to her and said "How should I know, lady. I'm only six !"

Well, apparently we are on our way to setting a rainfall record for April. Now, I don't want to compare our situation at all with those parts of the world where rain is causing serious flooding - it's nothing like that. But - the forecast is calling for more rain, every day through next Monday. Here's hoping that the sun makes a guest appearance before then.

(60mm  f2.8  1/80 sec  ISO100)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

I hope you all had a joyous Easter. I trust that the lyrics in this song only serve to bring you back to another time, and that none of them were applicable today.

(70-200mm  f14  1/125 sec  ISO400)

And although I missed the stroke of midnight, I'll post this for Sunset Sunday.

(10-22mm  f18  1/25 sec  ISO100)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflections on Good Friday

The mob that hounded Christ from Jerusalem to "the place of a skull" has never been dispersed, but is augmenting yet, as many of the learned men of the world and great men of the world come out from their studies and their laboratories and their palaces, and cry, "Away with this man! Away with him!" The most bitter hostility which many of the learned men of this day exercise in any direction they exercise against Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. (Thomas De Witt Talmage; 1832-1902)

(18-55mm  f9.0  1/25 sec  ISO200)

The cycle continues

It was apparent as I wandered through the park this week that things were being left pretty much alone. The trails were rough and in places muddy. The only concessions to human traffic were the occasional boardwalks which crossed otherwise impassable stretches of swamp, and the removal of sections of large tree trunks which had crashed onto pathways.

Everything went through the cycle of life and returned to the ground from whence it came.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
("The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam translated by Edward J. Fitzgerald")

(10-22mm  f22  1/2 sec  ISO800)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Yesterday Sasha and I returned to continue our hike further into the area my son had told me about recently. On our first foray we had only made it about 25% of the way in (as I discovered yesterday). The area has managed trails that meander through woods, cross swampy areas, and climb up rocky ridges. There are a few ponds and a couple of small creeks that have been dammed by beavers. There is also a lookout atop a rocky point which provides a view of a large wetland which has a good size creek running though it. From time to time I'll share some photos I made. I also expect to revisit this area as the seasons transform it from brown and barren to green and dense.

As is my habit, I wandered off the beaten path when I noticed an interesting outcropping of rock. I made some photos there and stood in the silence, taking in the scene. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something that was completely out of place in this apparent pristine environment - 2 long-since abandoned cars that appeared to be 1950's models. How they got here, at least a mile from the nearest road, is a mystery. Perhaps this land had once been privately owned and had been donated to the parks system, cars and all. The forest had grown up around these vehicles and no trace of a road was left. They made interesting, if incongruous, subjects in such a place.

Note: I brought a new 23" monitor home from Florida and I've been playing with the calibration. My photos appear to be ok (colour, contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc) but if you notice something amiss on your monitor I'd appreciate some feedback. Thanks.

(both shots made with 10-22mm lens at f9.0  1/400 sec  ISO800)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Savouring the moment

If you've visited here the last few days since we got back from the warm south, you know it's been a little cooler (brrr) here and the April showers have been fairly regular. However, not all has been doom and gloom here, and I had a carpe diem opportunity one evening. Since I'll only have enjoyed enough sunsets when I ride away into my last one, I stood on the balcony at the side of our house in the utter stillness of the evening to savour this one. And at the going down of the sun, this is what I experienced.

Why always "not yet"?  Do flowers in spring say "not yet"?  
(Norman Douglas)

(10-22mm  f4.0  1/3200 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An uncommon rainy day

Based on the rain that's welcomed us back so far, I'm expecting a bumper crop of May flowers. The forecast called for more rain this afternoon so Sasha took us for a walk this morning, and sure enough, the gray scudding clouds opened up around noon. It became a good day to stay warm near the wood stove as the outside temperature climbed to 5C/41F !

At one point I got up to have a look out the back window at the rain. I spotted what I thought was a robin pecking enthusiastically at the ground, but its furious action caught my attention. Then I noticed a splotch of red on its neck, and I knew it wasn't a robin - I'd never seen a bird like this before. Of course I had to get a few shots of this visitor. I watched its peculiar pecking for a while - apparently ants are a staple - and soon it was joined by 2 others.

I was further surprised when I researched it online and discovered that this bird is actually a woodpecker, known as a 'common flicker'. To paraphrase a favourite author, don't you think that if this flicker was all that common, I'd have seen more of them around ?

I had to shoot these through a rain-covered window and crop the shots a bit - no sneaking up on the birds on this day !

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/200 sec  ISO400)

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, April 14, 2011


[treyps] – verb (used without object) - to walk or go aimlessly or idly or without finding or reaching one's goal
That's what I set out to do today. My son had told me of an area he and his wife had 'discovered' that I would likely enjoy for a photo shoot. Yesterday's rain was forgotten and the sky looked promising this afternoon with nothing more than white puffy clouds. My photo shoot companion was eager to go and explore this new place. It didn't disappoint.

We had the place to ourselves. The brisk wind eventually gave way to warm(er) sunshine as we traipsed through the woods. Save for some moss and a few hardy ferns, no other plants were ready to make their spring appearance yet. Despite the definition I believe we did achieve our goal today.

(10-22mm  f18  1/50 sec  ISO200)

Read my lips

On this cool, dreary, rainy day (I know, I know ... April showers bring ...) I elected to browse through my photo archives to find cheerier moments. I came across this series from last year in which I got busted trying to sneak up on a birdie that was just trying to enjoy a quiet moment. Here were her reactions:

(all shots made with a 70-200mm lens at f8.0, 1/125 sec, ISO200) click on photos for a better view

"I can HEAR you ..."

"I know you're OUT there ..."
"Are you under THERE ?"
"Where ARE you ... ?"
"Aha ! Busted !"
"Ok, now get that camera out of my face and leave me alone"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reflecting on spring

The reality of spring in Canada set in today. While we experienced 22C/72F yesterday, high winds blew in a cold front and we awoke to 2C/36F this morning - but the change is not unusual for this time of year. Late this afternoon we got a fire roaring in the wood stove - something that had crossed my mind last week as we basked in Florida's heat.

But I was able to get dirt under my fingernails today since the weeds were already making headway. Here and there are little signs of spring's return - besides weeds - as some of the early perennials poke their shoots above ground. I cleaned last fall's detritus from the ponds and fired up the pumps yesterday. I noticed several huge bullfrogs that obviously survived the winter quite well, and also some tadpoles (aka pollywogs). Life is quickly returning after the deep freeze.

(18-55mm  f14  1/20 sec  ISO200)

Return to spring

We had an amazing return trip. What made it amazing was not so much the fact that we narrowly avoided turning a 3-car pile-up into a 4-car pile-up near Savannah, nor the fact we made it unscathed through torrential thunderstorms in North Carolina. What made it amazing was being able to watch the calendar being turned back from summer to early spring over 2 days.

We left the sunshine and 33C/92F temperatures in Florida where plants seem to flourish all year long. Gradually, we noticed that trees in Georgia and South Carolina displayed new foliage in that fresh spring green colour. And we saw leaves and blossoms just coming out in North Carolina and Virginia. Near Washington we saw cherry blossoms in all their splendour from which not even the concrete and asphalt corridor along which we traveled could detract. The trees in southern Pennsylvania were just starting to show buds, while those in New York state were still quite barren. We still saw traces of snow on east-facing slopes in these states as well as in Ontario. However, we carried some of that Florida warmth with us and today temperatures in Ontario reached 22C/72F !

Alas we had to leave the sunshine behind, and we were greeted by April showers shortly before we crossed the border.

(settings for both shots: 18-55mm  f8.0  1/320 sec  ISO400)

And another change that everyone who crossed the border sees:

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/320 sec  ISO400)

Note: unfortunately another change we experienced upon our return is our painfully slow internet connection. I spent 2 hours on the phone with our ISP Helpdesk earlier this evening - no resolution, but a service tech will be dispatched within 48-72 hours (!) This means I'm unable to visit anyone yet since it's taking a looong time to access blogs (or anything else); creating/uploading this post alone required 30 minutes ! I will visit as soon as we get this resolved ... surely a test of my patience !  Thank you all for your visits and comments.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sailing into the sunset

[hopefully we're getting near home by now - 2,500 km/1,500 mi later]

I had to put up one last sunset from the south since it's unlikely I'll be able to get any shots tonight.

I hope to get around to see you all again within the next day or two. Hope your weekend was a very good one !

(18-55mm  f13  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We'll miss your big grin ...

By the time this post hits the blog, we hope to be well on our way back north. We'll be returning to the land where these toothy creatures are only seen in a zoo or on TV, not along the highway ! But we plan to come back and get reacquainted. from a distance, of course - familiarity might breed more than contempt !

Note: since we'll be on the road for a couple of days I won't be able to visit you. I will be coming around again, hopefully by Monday evening.

(70-200mm  f9.0  1/125 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, April 8, 2011

Phun place

Well it's Phriday again - phew, doesn't time just phly ! And speaking of time flying, we are just hours away from leaving this place that we've grown very fond of, to head back north. I've had the opportunity to make photos of wonderful places and birds and animals down here. But till now, I hadn't shown you a photo of one of our favourite places. This one was made in the late afternoon after we had enjoyed being there one more time.

(70-200mm  f16  1/640 sec  ISO200)

It's our pool !

Thursday, April 7, 2011


In preparation for our journey back north, Sasha and I had to visit one of our favourite places this evening to capture a last sunset. Sasha knows the routine quite well - she perks up as soon as I reach for the camera bag and tripod, makes for the front door, and proceeds to howl as though she'd been kept waiting already. And she knows the routine quite well also when we're at our destination and it's time to make some photos. As the camera bag is lowered to the ground, she lies down with a look that clearly indicates she knows this may take some time and that there's no rush.

So we get our sunset shots and we make our way around to the places that are already etched in my memory, and that I then proceed to etch onto a piece of magnetic media. And another item can be checked off my mental list of things to do before we leave.

(10-22mm  f5.0  1/2 sec  ISO400)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just playin' around

Sometimes I don't wait for Phun Phriday to have some phun. On occasion I'll just grab the camera and play around with a subject and try out different settings, angles, light, lenses, etc to see what the possibilities are. Sometimes the results are unusual and the camera exposes things that the eye cannot see. We enter a world that we would never have known otherwise. Do you ever just 'play around' with your photography ?

(60mm  f3.5  1/100 sec  ISO100) 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Say┼Źnara ... soon

[for some musical accompaniment while you read this, click here]. Our sojourn in these warmer climes is coming to an end very soon. Reports say that the snow back home is mostly gone. Of course we realize that we're not out of the woods yet in that regard - last year we had a last winter fling on April 27 !

But we're looking forward to spring taking a firm hold 'back home' and producing scenes more like this.

(60mm  f11  1/6 sec  ISO100)

click on photo to enlarge

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suburban sunset

For those of you who have completed a project 365, or are pursuing it this year, you know that you've learned some valuable lessons, most of which have likely become ingrained. And I'm sure many of you can relate to being shunned or ostracized, or at best left behind, if you happen to bring your camera when you're out with a group of people who don't suffer from photographers' obsessive-compulsive behaviour (POB). I believe POB results from following guidelines 1 (ABC) and 2 (Carpe Diem) for doing a project 365 (a quick refresher may be found here).

On a walk to an ice cream parlour one evening recently when our daughters were visiting, I brought the camera along, ostensibly to capture some family moments - which of course I did. However, we were also presented with a stunning evening sky, and since I'm afflicted with POB (don't chuckle - I know many of you out there are fellow sufferers !) my 'walk' consisted of a series of stops, making some photos, jogging to catch up to the group again, and being pointedly told that I should have enough sunset shots by now. I mean, is that even possible ?

(18-55mm  f9.0  1/400 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

If you like sunsets, have a look at Scott's blog.


One of the benefits of having company is that you go to places you might not visit on your own. Case in point was a visit to the automotive past that I made last month with a brother-in-law. I lost track of how much time we spent there ogling cars from our youth that we couldn't afford then and likely can't afford now, however, I do recall that we had both breakfast and lunch there.

I could post dozens of photos I made there but I chose these two. All of you car buffs will recognize this classic and if you don't you can blow up the 2nd photo and read the sign in the window. While you look at them you can listen to this. And for more info on this model, have a look here.

(both photos made with a 10-22mm lens at f11, ISO400 and shutter speeds of 1/4 and 1/2 sec)

Friday, April 1, 2011

In the spotlight

"The birds came marching two by two, Hurrah, Hurrah,  
 The birds came marching two by two, Hurrah, Hurrah ... "

Just having a little phun on a phriday. Hope you did too ! 

(10-22mm  f10  1/400 sec  ISO100

click on photo for a better view

Phor more phabulous phun, have a look at Scott's blog