Friday, April 30, 2010

(Day 120) On a roll

Does this ever happen to you ? You get in that mood to give your camera a good workout and you see wonderful things to photograph. Before you know it you're on a roll and you don't even remember what time it is - unless you're racing against available light, that is.

Well it was like that today. I was working in the garden recovering part of a flower bed that the crab grass had started to make their own. The wind had calmed down and I noticed some tulips that were begging to have their picture taken. I had to make a tough choice - continue digging out crab grass, or take a few shots. I figured that the crab grass could probably wait a little longer but the wind might not. Reluctantly (!) I put down the garden fork and got the camera. One flower lead to another, of course, so I couldn't just post the tulip - the others were pleading just as much for a little 'exposure'.

Here are a few, then. Now, where did I leave that garden fork ?

(50mm  f1.4  1/4000 sec  ISO400)

(60mm  f2.8  1/20 sec  ISO100)

(60mm  f2.8  1/125 sec  ISO100)

(60mm  f8  1/80 sec  ISO400)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

(Day 119) The amazing Caltha Palustris

Don't worry - I didn't turn into a brilliant botanist overnight, so if you didn't recognize the name, I didn't 10 minutes ago either. This happens to be the Latin name for the marsh marigold (which I googled). Two days ago, my marsh marigolds were being blown around and covered with snow by the blizzard. You can see from these photos that they suffered no ill effects.

I dug these up from a swamp, er, wetlands, near our house a few years ago and relocated them to the edge of the pond. All 5 plants are doing well . By the time they're finished blooming I hope my pond irises will be ready for their show.

(60mm  f8  1/25 sec  ISO100)

(70-200mm  f8  1/400 sec  ISO800)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

(Day 118) The stalker

First off I can happily report that our brief winter interlude disappeared as quickly as hockey fans after an overtime loss. The sun appeared, the temperature climbed up to 13C (55F), and the universe continued unfolding as it should. The grass also reappeared as the mantle of snow vanished and it was obvious it needed to be cut.

As I trimmed the edges of the lawn around the flower beds by the pond, a sudden movement caught my eye. It was ... the stalker! It slithered stealthily along, using a rock to hid its presence from its intended lunch. It would pause long enough for me to get a few shots and then moved on, searching. This continued for some 10 minutes, when it disappeared under a rock by the edge of the pond. In a flash I saw it dive into the pond and grab a frog by the leg! The frog attempted a getaway by diving but the stalker hung on, writhing down to the bottom into the water plants. I could no longer see the drama and I waited about 15 minutes before I resumed cutting the grass. One can only imagine the outcome.

(70-200mm  f11  1/125 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

(Day 117) A nasty surprise!

I was awakened this morning by a phone call from one of my daughters to tell me that the town nearest to us was in the news. Now this is unusual because nothing much of any importance ever happens here. Well, the news was that we were experiencing a significant snowstorm! Of course I didn't believe her and immediately went to look out the window - yep, we had a January blizzard going on!

We lived in Calgary for many years and this would hardly be newsworthy, unless there was 60cm (2') of snow, because April and May can be very snowy there. But this is almost unheard of in these parts at this time of year. So yes, these are not pictures from my archives in January (see the leaves and flowers) and it's still snowing as I post this. I'm not sure I believe the weather forecast which promises 21C (70F) by Friday.

(18-55mm  f11  1/100 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f11  1/160 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f11  1/160 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f11  1/30 sec  ISO200)

Monday, April 26, 2010

(Day 116) "Lean on me ..."

I'm not sure whether that would be the appropriate song for this shot or whether it should be the theme from "Mission Impossible" :)

I had heard some croaking sounds coming from the pond, or perhaps if you were a frog it might have sounded like courting sounds. When I went to check it out, I found these two in a rather cozy position near the edge of the pond. I guess I'll know soon enough whether the courtship was successful if I find tadpoles swimming around. In the meantime we'll keep pets and small children away from the pond - that frog on the bottom looked big enough to be a danger to them. And the one on top, IMHO, has a face only a mother could love!

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/640 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

(Day 115) Start of a theme

Part of the challenge of doing a 365 project I've found, and I'm sure many others have experienced, is the daily process of choosing and finding a subject. Some days it's easy and you come up with a week's worth. Then there are other days when the mind goes blank and little inspires. I have to admit that with the onset of spring the daily challenge has become a little easier.

We're lucky to have a couple of small ponds beside the house and I thought I would take the next few days to capture some of its denizens - some of whom live in it and others that like to live near it. I'll see how far I get with this.

Today's photo is of Mr. Chickadee. Now I had to infer his gender by his behaviour, but that was fairly easy. Mrs Chickadee was doing all the running (well, flying) around gathering the bits of grass and other raw materials to make a nice soft nest, while Mr. Chickadee kept a watchful eye out for anything that would require a warning for both to flee. Here he's keeping a good eye on me but I guess I wasn't considered enough of a threat.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/1600 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

(Day 114) Pretty faces

The flowers in today's photos are known as vinca. I set out a few years ago to look for a creeping plant to cover a fairly steep bank behind the lower pond, and had this in mind. I didn't think it would be hard to find, but the nurseries I went to didn't have it. I finally found 10 little plants at Walmart of all places - their total stock. I didn't think I had nearly enough, but I planted them and those 10 plants now cover the entire bank, and then some!

As a bonus, they're very early bloomers, and the plants were quite green already when the last of the snow disappeared. I was lucky to find 2 different colours and the bank is now covered with these pretty flowers.

(60mm  f16  1/25 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f16  1/15 sec  ISO200)

Friday, April 23, 2010

(Day 113) Liquid sunshine

I know that the best light for photography tends to be the time around sunrise and sunset, and it's rather harsh around high noon. However, I was looking at the water by the pond today and I saw how the bright sunshine was sparkling on the falling water. I wouldn't have this effect early or late in the day.

Here's my version of liquid sunshine.

(70-200mm  f64  1/4 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

(Day 112) A slightly different look at spring

Spring has to be one of my favourite times of the year. Oh sure, hot lazy days in the summer are great, especially when you're on vacation, and fall days, with all the splendid colours, are amazing, and I'm always gung ho for a raging winter blizzard.

But after the 'deadness' of winter, spring brings a magic all its own, as everything bursts into life and suddenly there's a kaleidoscope of colour. Photographers (me included) can't wait to get out to capture the emerging beauty, in exquisite detail. Today it was just literally exploding all around me.

(18-55mm  f29  0.6 sec  ISO100)

(18-55mm  f14  1/5 sec  ISO100)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

(Day 111) Early morning reward

By nature I'm not an early morning person. I saw an interesting quote on another blog recently that better expresses my feelings about early mornings: "If we were meant to pop out of bed in the morning, we'd all sleep in a toaster!" (or words to that effect).

However, I do acknowledge that there are rewards for getting up early (besides being the first one to get a worm and who cares about that unless you're a bird). The light for photography can be wonderful and often there are beautiful sunrises to enjoy and capture. I was up early this morning for another reason - to spray my apple trees. This can't be done when there's much of any breeze and usually there is little or no breeze in the very early morning. It was still early by the time I was done so I took the opportunity for a quick photo shoot.

(60mm  f25  1/10 sec  ISO200)

wild plum (I think)

(60mm  f20  1/13 sec  ISO200)

wildflowers (trout lily)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(Day 110) No, this isn't San Juan Capistrano ...

... but they've come back. Our tree swallows (I'm no bird expert, but I know how to use google) are busy swooping around the yard trying to decide who gets the swallow house attached to the shed and who gets to make one of the houses around the pond their home this year. I've counted what appear to be 3 couples taking turns checking out the digs. I'm not sure if they pull straws or how they decide, but they alternate poking their little heads inside to see if last year's furnishings are suitable for them or not.

I sat in the backyard watching them for a while and it seemed that about every 15 minutes or so they would return from (presumably) feasting on the already abundant bugs to resume the ritual of checking out the houses. For all I know it's a courtship ritual and they're actually checking each other out! What I do know for sure is that eventually the couples settle down, have a brood, and get down to the almost non-stop activity of feeding the hungry ones. I hope to 'shoot' them when that time arrives.

(70-200mm  f11  1/400 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/800 sec  ISO200)

Monday, April 19, 2010

(Day 109) Spring's bounty

People aren't the only living things that appreciate the return of spring. Today's photos show 2 creatures I found (well, my wife actually spotted the 2nd one) that were quite happy to no longer be under winter 'wraps' and were enjoying the fresh bounty served up in spring time - nectar and tree buds.

 (70-200mm  f5.6  1/1250 sec  ISO200enlarge for better view

(70-200mm  f16  1/80 sec  ISO800)   

Sunday, April 18, 2010

(Day 108) The happy wanderer

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to go wandering in the creation. A number of us set out this afternoon for a stroll through what appeared to be an abandoned park. There were signs of order from bygone days - picnic tables now dry-rotted and collapsed, washroom facilities now overgrown, a drinking fountain now dry and cracked. But there were well-trodden paths since it appeared that people could still enjoy a walk in the creation without all the 'modern conveniences'.

So our merry little troupe set off, with your intrepid photographer tagging along. Photo opportunities abounded, however, and it wasn't long before yours truly became so engrossed in capturing the marvels of spring, that I became hopelessly separated from the rest. Ah well, each enjoyed the wandering in their own way and we all met up again in the end. For me, photography is a pursuit best enjoyed alone, with the fruits to be shared later.

(70-200mm  f22  1/80 sec  ISO800)

(18-55mm  f22  1/100 sec  ISO800)

(60mm  f8  1/500 sec  ISO800)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

(Day 107) A quiet spot in the woods

It rained again today, or I should say, it's still raining today. Undeterred, however, we decided to go for our planned walk to the 'back 40'. Accompanied by 5 dogs (son's - 2, daughter's - 2, ours) and our son pushing our grandson in his stroller (well it looks more like an ATV without the engine), we made our way along the path through the cedar woods. Near the end of our land, deep in the woods, we came across a relatively dry spot - sheltered by the cedar canopy. Here we tarried a while and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Moments like these with family are to be treasured.

(18-55mm  f4.5  1/60 sec  ISO800)

And for fun, I thought I'd post a shot of my grandson, Graydon, and one of my daughters, Julia, in this candid (I think Graydon is wondering what sort of family he's joining):

(70-200mm  f2.8  1/50 sec  iso800)

Friday, April 16, 2010

(Day 106) A hard rain's gonna fall

Well it is the season after all. As the saying goes : "April showers bring May flowers" although we're already getting the flowers, and today some rain. I suppose in some more temperate regions the saying might be "February showers bring March flowers", but it just doesn't have that same ring to it.

(70-200mm  f5  1/400 sec  ISO800)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

(Day 105) Pretty in pink ...

... but I bet Molly didn't have stubble like this one! I'm not sure what this flower is called but it's an early one and has a number of pink clusters on it. I googled early spring pink flowers and there were 2,970,000 results. (I think God had a lot of fun when He was designing flowers to decorate the world). Maybe our sleuth (Avery) who figured out what my 'weed' was will be able to tell us what this one is.

I'm really glad spring is here - I hope you don't mind flower shots 'cause I like them and you'll likely see a bunch more.

(60mm  f11  1/15 sec  ISO400)

Oh, and I did find a real dandelion today - our first - and I thought I'd post it to distinguish it from the coltsfoot I posted 2 days ago:

(60mm  f14  1/25 sec  ISO400)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(Day 104) Stop ! Help !

I was outside tonight looking up at the night sky with its gazillion stars (very little light pollution out here in the countryside - for which I am thankful). I had my camera with me, fortunately, because as I turned around I noticed that light was trying to escape from our house! Luckily, as you can see from this shot, I was able to stop it before it completely got away! Thank goodness the shutter closed just in time. When it did and I looked up, the light was safely back in the room - phew, close call! :-)

 (18-55mm  f8  2 sec  ISO800)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

(Day 103) Simplicity (?)

I still have to look through the flower beds and the wilder areas of our land in search of flowers. The tulips aren't quite ready and irises and other perennials are going all out towards meeting their bloom time deadlines. I know where there are wildflowers but they too aren't ready for showtime yet.

But there under the bottom step of the deck amongst the grass was a simple dandelion, at least I thought it was a dandelion and I thought it was simple, until I downloaded it and looked at it on the computer screen. Now I've never seen a dandelion that looks like this one! And I'm not even sure anymore if it is a dandelion. Looking at it closely reminded me of what we were told long ago: "... why do you worry about clothes? See how the dandelions of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these."

Simple flower, simple words, profound message. (the text referenced lilies but I think works equally well for dandelions)

(60mm  f5.6  1/30 sec  ISO200)

Monday, April 12, 2010

(Day 102) The day Thou gavest ...

It had all the appearances of one of those glorious summer days, slowly drifting through twilight into the calm darkness of night. Had it not been for the somewhat brisk temperature you could easily mistake these photos for capturing that scenario - the soft light of the setting sun creating a dreamy sepia, the last light reflecting off the trees, and the sun sinking down behind the horizon.

So far (never say never - who would have thought images would one day be captured without film ?), imaging technology doesn't capture temperature as our hands do. In order to have a true experience then, place your hands in a bucket of cold water as you view these shots.

(all shots taken with 18-55mm  @f11  at various shutter speeds  ISO200)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

(Day 101) Dog gone squirrels!

I went out walking this afternoon to find a suitable subject for today's photo. I came across an old hollowed out apple tree limb decomposing on the ground, and looked for an interesting angle to capture its texture. Sasha, our Samoyed, was intrigued by it at the same time - but she wasn't after a good angle. She's more interested in squirrels and chipmunks. Well, interested is a bit of an understatement - obsessed would be a better description.

So I turned my camera on her as she focused on bringing into daylight any squirrel she could dig out. Note: no animals were injured during the taking of these shots :)

(all shots taken with 70-200mm f2.8L  f5.6  various shutter speeds  ISO800)

Studying the situation:

Removing obstacles:

Puzzled by the lack of results:

(Day 100) Part II - Tag, YOU might be IT

Well, wouldn't you know it! I got tagged - and I just found out about it late at night, and even though it's late, I'd better follow my orders before the tag police come after me! Can't let that happen - they're all over cyberspace and you might be able to run but you can't hide. for long.

Who got me ? Krista over at Picture Imperfect (see her post for the rules). So I hafta look in my first picture folder and pick the 10th picture and tell the story behind it, and then tag 5 other people (ok, that'll be the really fun part !).

I have a lot of folders with photos - kept on my 1Tb backup drive - and this was the 10th photo in the first folder. It was taken last September on a little country lane only a couple of miles from my place. The fall colours were coming out and I went here several times during the fall as the colours kept changing.

Ok, here are the 5 people I'm tagging:
  1. imac at imac's Photos from the Minds Eye 
  2. Lisa at 365 days, one photo at a time 
  3. darlin at My life for a year 
  4. Scott at The World's Best Photography Blog
  5. joey at THE VILLAGE VOICE 
 Hope you enjoy it too!  ;-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

(Day 100 !!) Ominous or hopeful ?

Supposedly, the world is made up of 2 kinds of people - the half-full glass kind and the half-empty glass kind. Also known as optimists and pessimists, or maybe idealists and realists. Seems a bit of a cut and dried division but I guess we all sometimes like to pigeon-hole people. In that case I like to think I belong to the first group.

The sky late today seemed to me to have some elements of both. The dark clouds looked ominous (the forecasters are calling for showers tonight) and yet there also are rays of sunshine - perhaps they will prevail, the clouds will pass, and we'll have a beautiful spring day tomorrow. I'm going to go with that. What do you think ?

(70-200mm  f32  1/320 sec  ISO800)

Friday, April 9, 2010

(Day 99) Life's not like that

Do you have days where life seems to be nicely lined up ? Things appear to be going smoothly, everything is falling into place - career, relationships, finances ... even the car isn't complaining. Then - wham! Totally unexpected, out of left field - chaos! Your boss gets ugly, your spouse doesn't understand, the car starts making a grinding sound, even the dog gets in on the act by peeing on the carpet.

'They' say adversity builds character, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Maybe so, but most of us will work hard to line our lives up again the way we thought it was, like today's shot. By the way, if you've played pool, or billiards, have you ever broken a rack of balls and have them end up looking like this ? I didn't think so - life's not like that.

(60mm  f20  15 sec  ISO800)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

(Day 98) A bit of Monet ?

Now, I'm probably the furthest thing from an art expert. But as I was looking into our pond recently, I saw an image that reminded me of an impressionist painter, Claude Monet. Perhaps if he had been looking with me he might have painted something similar. When the water lilies come up a little later I might try to get a 'Monet' water lily photo.

(70-200mm  f8  1/250 sec  ISO200)

Oh, by the way, it's one of our forsythia bushes.

(70-200mm  f8  1/800 sec  ISO200)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

(Day 97) All is calm, but ...

The calmness of this scene belies all the activity that isn't quite apparent. Beneath the serenity, life is stirring. Plants are awakening, trees are budding, birds are choosing mates and nesting sites. The gradual warming, and April showers, are nurturing all living things and before long, colour will be restored to the world. It's magical to watch.

 (70-200mm  f8  1/50 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

(Day 96) A moment in time

Aren't there times when you'd really like the moment to never end ? You want to freeze everything and not have anything change, perhaps because it's the perfect moment. It could be when you're with someone, when you see a most beautiful scene, when you have that perfect moment of joy ...

Of course, time moves onward and so does life. But just for a moment today, time stopped, even if it was only for 0.0005 seconds ...

(70-200mm  f8  1/2000 sec  ISO1600)

Monday, April 5, 2010

(Day 95) The first of many (I hope)

A couple of years ago I planted a number of crocuses in the front lawn, hoping they'd give us that early spring colour before the grass started growing. I did all the right things when I planted them and eagerly awaited their showy arrival the first spring. Only a few bloomed so I thought the rest might need a year to grow first. Well, the second year was worse than the first and this year I don't even know if any came up. :-(

But I had totally forgotten that I had planted a few in a bit of a remote spot in one of the flower beds, and these seemed to have survived whatever the other ones didn't. So I can officially call these our first spring flowers. Now that we've broken the ice, so to speak, with these, I hope you don't mind if I post more (different varieties, of course) as they make their appearance.

(70-200mm  f4  1/60 sec  ISO400)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

(Day 93) Emerging spring

Do you know what the definition of a Canadian spring is ? It's the 15 minutes between winter and summer!

One week ago it was -14C (7F) overnight. Today we hit 30C (86F) ! Records for high temperatures that have stood for 64 years were broken. I broke my own (unofficial) record for the earliest date to wear shorts! :)

Plants that were staying protected under the soil are now scrambling to take advantage of the warmth. Today's photo shows the rhubarb emerging in the garden. At this rate we'll be eating it in a few weeks.

(60mm  f8  1/160 sec  ISO200)