Saturday, January 30, 2010

(Day 30) Sand, surf .. almost heaven

Compared to 2 days ago, today's scene felt like a slice of heaven. Nothing more needs to be said ... the picture speaks for itself.

(taken with 18-55mm @f11.0 1/320 sec ISO200)

(Day 29) Backyard 'pet'

Hotels advertise all sorts of specials to attract business. We were looking for one that allowed pets, and found more than we bargained for. What wasn't advertised was the 'extra' special (not sure if this was advertised it would attract or repel business). I found this in a ditch right behind the hotel. I'm sure it was watching me as I angled closer and I managed to get a couple of shots before it suddenly turned and thrashed in a frenzy of water to get away.

(taken with 70-200mm @ f8.0 1/125 sec ISO200)

(Day 28) White knuckle driving ...

Upper New York State looked pretty as a postcard. But driving in a blinding blizzard alongside 18-wheelers didn't allow much time for rubber-necking.

(taken with 18-55mm @ f4.5 1/1000 sec ISO200)

(taken with 18-55mm @ f7.0 1/100 sec ISO200)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

(Day 27) Gone fishin'

The trawler in today's photo seems somewhat shrouded in mystery as it appears to head out of port on its mission to catch fish. We visited Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island a few years ago and saw some of these. This one, however, was sailing off into our kitchen.

(taken with 70-200mm 2.8L IS USM at f2.8 1/40 sec. ISO 800)

(note: I will not have access to a computer over the next few days, but will take daily pictures and will post as soon as I have access again - stay tuned)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

(Day 26) Wacky weather

Winter took a time out yesterday and in its place we got a deluge of rain and temperatures of +10C (50F). Snow and ice disappeared at a record pace and were replaced by small lakes. In today's photo you can see the previous ice pack under about 30cm (a foot) of water. It was raining too hard to take photos yesterday, and today you can see a return to more wintry conditions as the flurries fly.

And I thought Alberta had wacky weather !

(taken with 18-55mm lens @ f8 1/125 sec ISO200)

(Day 25) Tools of the trade/hobby

As in any trade, hobby, sport, etc the right equipment will help in achieving the goal. There are a number of obvious basics in photography - camera, lens(es), film/memory card. There are also items which would be considered basic depending on the area of photography - tripod, filters, lighting. And there are many more items that can be added to either the basic list or esoteric items list.

Within each category there are also of course levels of quality, craftsmanship, and expense. In today's photo I've shown 2 lenses which could be considered at opposite ends of the scale - an 18-55mm basic kit zoom lens and a high end, professional 70-200mm 2.8L zoom lens, with the latter costing approx. 10x as much as the first. Surprisingly perhaps, the basic kits lens does a pretty good job of taking sharp pictures - it doesn't have the versatility or range of the pro lens nor will it compete head to head on quality.

Today's photo was taken with a 60mm macro lens, one of my 3 favourites. (I'll try to remember to post what lens each day's photo was taken with, for the curious).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

(Day 24) Consider the lilies of the field (II) ...

"Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these ...".

The amaryllis has rewarded us with four amazing blooms. I had to take advantage of the moment because all too soon they too will wither and be consigned to the compost heap.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

(Day 23) Mythbusters

Remember the last time you flew and during the pre-takeoff announcements the flight attendant told you to turn off all electronic devices including laptops, cellphones, etc ?

I used to have a Blackberry as part of my out-of-the-office arsenal. Now, I have to admit that mine must almost qualify as a collector's item - it's a model 957, one of the earliest built. No built-in phone or internet access, but it did allow me to access email. I travelled with it everywhere and because of it, was able to stay on top of my email.

Now to the myth buster part - one evening we took off from Chicago O'Hare and we had the usual pre-takeoff announcements with all the dire warnings how electronic devices would interfere with navigation equipment .... I must have been engrossed in something else, because I neglected to turn off my Blackberry. As we were cruising at about 10,000 feet above Chicago, my Blackberry suddenly started vibrating (I had turned off the audible notification). I had an immediate impulse to turn it off before something disastrous occurred which the NTSB investigation would link back to my Blackberry. However, as nothing immediate happened, curiosity got the better of me and I checked the incoming email. Not only did I read it, but I also successfully responded - and lo and behold, we continued on our way and reached our destination as scheduled.

I was left wondering about the real reason behind the pre-takeoff warnings. Perhaps the airlines wished us to use their outrageously-priced services instead ?

Here's a photo of my Blackberry - yes it still works (sort of) although it hasn't been hooked up to an email server for years.

Friday, January 22, 2010

(Day 22) Consider the lilies of the field ...

... or the amaryllis in the house. I didn't think I'd be back quite so soon posting the amaryllis blooms but there are 2 glorious blooms out in full and 2 more about to burst open. What a beautiful creation.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

(Day 21) Winter wonderland

Some people can't stand winter. I've met people (in Florida) who have never experienced snow. I appreciate the seasons and each has a beauty of its own - although sometimes winter can last too long. But today was one of those beautiful winter days - the clouds broke up, the sun came through and the air was crisp and clear. Does anyone need a better reason to go out and capture some of winter's beauty ?

I could probably post a dozen pictures, but I'll restrict myself to two. Hope you enjoy them (and winter) just as much ...

Well, maybe I'll just slip this one in too ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(Day 20) Update #3 on amaryllis

It would be interesting to do time lapse photography on the amaryllis. From its beginnings out of the box on Dec. 21, and an update on Jan. 8, it has been rapidly progressing to its goal of putting on a dazzling display. There are 4 flower buds, with the largest looking to open any day. As soon as that occurs I will post the resulting bloom(s). What an incredible piece of work - what human hands can replicate this ?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(Day 19) Old tokens

There are certain things that we collect that serve to remind us of other places and other times. I'm not talking about photographs, although they certainly can serve that purpose. For me it's coins that I've collected on various travels through other countries. They seem to have some mystique to them even though in the country where they are (were) being used they're very ordinary and have no more than face value.

The ones in the photo below are from another era - the pre-euro era. I think Europe lost a little of its mystique when it went to a common currency. These coins don't even have their face value any longer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

(Day 18) Into the unknown ...

It was a misty, eerie sort of day today - no real sharp lines. The light dulled all the colours into a drab gray. To top it all, there was a near constant freezing drizzle falling which made the ground quite slippery. A typical January day I suppose.

I found these 'giants' walking off into the unknown, their arms slung down by their sides, harnessed to each other by looping wires.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

(Day 17) A fowl theme ...

Ever since I brought home a couple of large roosters, kindly 'foisted' off on us by a too neighbourly neighbour, our home has increasingly taken on a rooster theme. There are mats in the kitchen with roosters on them, we have one (maybe more) rooster clocks, we have many rooster replicas in various nooks and crannies ...

We named the roosters Foghorn and Leghorn, in honour of one of my favourite cartoon shows. Unfortunately Leghorn went on to the big roost in the sky, but Foghorn is holding his own. Once the weather warms up a bit, I'll post his portrait here. In the meantime, here's a photo of our fowl theme ...

(Day 16) The golden elixir

My introduction to the golden elixir came at a pre-Christmas lunch courtesy of my manager at work at the time. I'm not sure how prevalent the practice of taking employees out to lunch is these days but twenty some odd years ago it was still an accepted way of a company personalizing a thank-you.While I was not fond of liqueurs in general, the golden elixir and I struck up an acquaintance that has lasted to this day. It was a frequent companion on many business flights (remember when business class actually provided some 'extras' ?) and to this day, memories flood the brain when the scent of the elixir floods the nostrils. Funny how smells can have that effect.

So I made this my photo subject for today as I imbibed the golden elixir.

Friday, January 15, 2010

(Day 15) Fun with light and time

Light can create some neat effects when captured over a period of time. Streetlights turn into stars, headlights and taillights become markers of time, and it appears that the laws of physics can be defied - more than one object can occupy the same space at the same moment. Another example of writing with light although this time it was the vehicles doing so. Captured below was 30 seconds of reality along the 401.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

(Day 14) UNESCO Heritage Site

The light looked like it was going to be interesting early this afternoon - sun peeking through clouds occasionally, providing some nice diffused light. By the time I drove to where I wanted to take some photos, however, the sky had again turned a dull gray. Undeterred, and determined to do some outdoor shooting today, I took the equipment out. The wind had also picked up and given the cold, the camera battery looked like it would give up before me.

To my subject - I took some photos along the Rideau River and selected the one below. The locks on the Rideau Canal, which are used to bypass obstacles like this, are all drained for the winter, but will be busy with tourist boats come late spring. I'm sure I'll visit here again later during the project.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

(Day 13) Outer space

Recall the rocket blast captured 2 days ago?  Today we see that the rocket has traveled to outer space since then, and has taken what appears to be a photo of the large red spot on Jupiter. The second photo appears to have captured some of the detail of Saturn's rings. Well, that's what appeared to me as I let my mind wander. Use your imagination and see what you come up with - leave a comment below if you like.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

(Day 12) Do not worry

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns ...". And I think the one in the photo just ate his belly full and has to launch himself off our feeder to get airborne. Looks like he's got to get the wings revved up to make it. If that's a worried look on his face it isn't because he doesn't know where his next meal is coming from !

Now I was only going to post 1 photo per day (usually), however, we had a very nice sunset and I'm a sucker for nice sunsets, so I included 1 photo of today's sunset too. Enjoy, be happy, don't worry - command from on high.

Monday, January 11, 2010

(Day 11) Blast off !

We've been having a lot of gray weather lately - not very nice light for outdoor photography. I've been wanting to go outdoors to capture some winter scenery but I'll have to wait a little longer. So I thought I'd continue 'writing' with light indoors and today I captured the fiery thrust of a rocket blasting through the rarefied atmosphere of our home. Another optical illusion, but fun.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

(Day 10) Big fish - little world

Imagine if your world was about the size of an average bedroom. That must be what it's like for today's subject - our senior pleco (plecostomus) - we also have a junior pleco. We estimate that pleco sr. is 20-25cm (8-10") long. I suspect he's happy in his environment - after all, he's fed daily, gets his home cleaned regularly, and he's kept warm. What more could a fish ask for ?

Good thing we're not evolved from fish but were created as human beings, in the image of the Master. And we've been given a great big world to take care of, explore, and be in awe of its creator.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day (9) New Life (II)

I recently posted about new (plant) life starting, seemingly impossibly, in this frigid winter season. What made it possible, of course, is that it's starting indoors. Today I write about a much more amazing new life miracle - the birth of a little human being. "You knit me together in my mother's womb ... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (also look up Brian Doerksen's song 'Creation Calls').

How anyone can snuff out such a young life before it has even taken its first breath is beyond my comprehension. Today we welcomed Graydon Richard into the world.

Friday, January 8, 2010

(Day 8) Progress report on amaryllis

It's almost been 3 weeks since we planted the amaryllis (see 'New Life' post on Dec. 21, 2009) so I thought I'd provide a photo of its progress. The flower stem is now approx. 20cm (8") tall and some redness can be seen in the flower bud. The leaves have turned from a pale yellow to light green, and had to be staked when I found them leaning over at a sharp angle (the cat is a likely suspect). We're still looking forward to a showy display when the flower(s) open.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

(Day 7) God's Country

There's a story told about a young man who wanted to travel across Canada. Being a devout Catholic he made a point of visiting the church in whatever town or city he came to. And so he went into the cathedral in Halifax on his first stop, and noticed a gold phone just inside the cathedral, with a notice indicating calls were $100 each. Curious, he approached the priest to ask him why calls were so expensive. The priest answered that the phone was a direct line to God. His journey took him to Fredericton next, and again, when visiting the cathedral he saw the gold phone with the notice that calls were $100. Again the local priest told him that calls were that expensive because it was a direct line to God.

And so he continued westward, and at each cathedral he saw the gold phone, and the $100 cost, and was given the same response. Eventually he arrived in Calgary and soon made his way to St. Peter's. Once again he saw the gold phone, but was surprised to see a notice saying calls were 35 cents! He went to see the priest to ask him why calls on that phone were only 35 cents when they cost $100 in other parts of the country. "Son", the priest said, "you're in God's country now - it's a local call."

If you've never been out west, you need to put it on your 'list of things to do before I die'. Today's photo reminds me of the 15 years we lived near Calgary - a great experience that left many fond memories.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

(Day 6) Literally writing with light

Well, I thought I would try this today - to 'write with light'. Not as easy as it might look - I'll bet sky-writers have to do a lot of practice before they can write using smoke coming from their airplane. It took a few takes before I was able to put this one together. [this is where digital photography trumps film - you can experiment at virtually no cost and you get instant feedback].

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

(Day 5) The speed of light

I seem to recall from a long-forgotten science class that the speed of light was 186,000 miles per second (about 300,000 km per second for you youngsters). Photography means 'writing with light' and the photo below appears to have captured a blue beam of light within the rings. An optical illusion. The second photo provides another view.

It's only (officially) day 5 of the 365 day project but I'm having fun. Part of the daily challenge is to determine what to photograph and to make it unique.

Monday, January 4, 2010

(Day 4) Growing veggies in winter time

The climate in this part of the world (eastern Ontario) is not very conducive to veggie growing in winter time unless perhaps you had a heated greenhouse (and a thick wallet). However, there's one veggie that's probably not that well-known in these parts, called 'witlof' (Dutch or Flemish for 'white leaf'), that can be produced indoors in the winter time. The plants are first grown outdoors during summer, then the roots are harvested and allowed to 'rest' for a week or 2 before being planted under the soil in a cool location. I have a 1 cubic metre bin in the basement where I force witlof. Once the white tips of the leaves appear about 6 weeks after planting, they're harvested - the roots are recycled via the compost bin (for more info see

(Day 3) Stripes

That's what a lot of hockey players call referees, under 'normal' circumstances. When on the receiving end of a call that they don't agree with, players have been known to use other names. Here are some of the tools of the referee trade. In my opinion, hockey is one of the best games invented by man, and should always remain a 'game' in the grand scheme of things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

(Day 2) Two sure things in life

And as the saying goes, they're death and taxes, and today's photo reminds us that the government may be inefficient in a lot of things, but when it comes to collecting its pound of flesh, it's right on the ball. Just so we won't have any excuse for not paying up on time (by April 30 !), they've made sure we had the necessary paperwork before the new year even started !

Friday, January 1, 2010

(Day 1) And ... we're on

to 2010 and starting the 365 photo project. Hope everyone had a good new year's eve celebration. I went into Merrickville after midnight to take a few photos while the snow was gently falling. Night time is a wonderful time to take photographs - I'll share a couple.