Saturday, December 31, 2011

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

I hope all of you have had a peace-full Christmas, and you were able to make some happy memories with those close to you. I'm glad to say that I have been so blessed. I also had the pleasure of once again experiencing the beauty that winter bestows on the creation, on solitary walks and walks shared with loved ones. I hope to share some of this over the next few weeks.

The old year is quickly sliding away, a new year is just around the corner. I want to wish each of you who have come here to visit throughout this past year or perhaps just starting recently, a wonderful new year. I'd also like to leave this Irish blessing, a favourite of mine, with you:

May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be always at your back,
may the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields;
and until we meet again,
may you be held in the warmth of God's hand.

You might note the 'early' hour of this post - that's due to the length of time it took this evening to download Windows updates and then to load this blog post. If all goes well I expect to have access to a very fast internet connection within 2 weeks, at which time we shall 'meet again' in blogland. I thank you all for your visits and kind comments.

(10-22mm  f14  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All is calm, All is bright ...

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, All is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so Tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night, holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light!
With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King!
Christ the Saviour is here,
Jesus the Saviour is here!

Silent night, Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord at thy birth;
Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

♫ Happy trails to you ...

As you're reading this, we hope to be well on our way 'up north', having left the balmy south early yesterday morning in order to spend Christmas with family. We've traded shorts and sandals for boots and warm winter woollies. Tonight, if all goes well, we'll be sitting around the crackling wood stove. That will be a stark contrast to the scenes we savoured so recently.

Note: not only are we leaving the wonderful warm weather behind but we're also leaving the urban high-speed internet connection behind. For the next several weeks I will have to make do with a connection that is 400 times slower. I will likely have to restrict myself to doing the bare minimum online i.e. paying bills. I'm doubtful that I'll be able to post, let alone visit anyone's blog during this time.

If that's the case, then I want to wish each and every one of you a Blessed Christmas, and peace and joy in 2012.

Till we meet again ...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Square peg meets round hole

Our sense of the familiar has been challenged as we try to 'get into the Christmas spirit'. This is the second year that we are spending the weeks leading up to Christmas in the balmy south. For all of those previous years we had grown accustomed to the weather turning cold and blustery, and we literally meant it when we hummed along with "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas". In our experience, there's something incongruous about standing on a street dressed in shorts and sandals in mid-December looking at palm trees adorned with bright Christmas lights.

Good thing that the joyous message of Christmas - the birth of the Saviour of the world - remains the same without regard to geography or weather.

"May all your Christmases be bright."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

All earth to Him her homage brings

1 The ends of all the earth shall hear
And turn unto the Lord in fear;
All kindreds of the earth shall own
And worship Him as God alone.

All earth to Him her homage brings,
The Lord of lords, the King of kings.

2 For His the kingdom, His of right,
He rules the nations by his might;
All earth to Him her homage brings
The Lord of lords, the King of kings. [Refrain]

3 Both rich and poor both bond and free,
Shall worship Him with bended knee,
And children's children shall proclaim
The glorious honor of His Name. [Refrain]

Composer: William H. Doane, 1834-1915

Friday, December 9, 2011

What's in a name

Thanks to the ABC principle that was burned into my subconscious whilst completing a 365 photo project last year, I was prepared when I happened upon this anhinga striking a familiar pose - for anhingas, that is. Since water does not run off their backs, like a duck's, anhingas must dry their feathers after diving for fish and frogs if they want to take to the air again.

Now anhingas are also known as snakebirds since most of their body is underwater as they swim on the surface with only their long neck and beak showing. I've seen them swimming like that, and the name is an apt one. But apparently they're also known as water turkeys, and to be honest, I just can't make the connection. No one here mentioned them during the recent Thanksgiving celebration.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/80 sec  ISO200)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Postcards from the past

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.  (Doug Larson)

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory. (Franklin Pierce Adams)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

(Belated) Phriday Phun

Well, the phun was all had on Phriday - it's just that I didn't get phinished with the photos until past midnight (EST) - although it's still Phriday to the west of us. (Scott started the Phun Phriday posting - you may want to check him out).

We visited Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda this afternoon. While my wife browsed through the many shops there, Sasha and I dragged ourselves away and scouted the surroundings for some photo ops.

You wouldn't think that a place that bills itself as 'Fishermen's Village' would post signs like the one in this photo, would you ? Perhaps that's false advertising aka 'bait and switch'. I mean, what's a fisherman to do ?

Now being from up north I happen to know that Santa gets around via sleigh, but I've wondered how he does that in Florida where snow is as rare as a politician (anywhere) that can balance a budget. I discovered his secret and I'll share it with you here. Shhh - don't tell the kids.

Well, after all that time wandering around in the sun, I couldn't tell if my eyes or my camera were playing tricks on me in this last shot.

I hope your Phriday was phun too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Short story of sacrifice for Sunset Sunday shot

Sunsets arrive at a bit of an awkward time at this point on the calendar - right around dinner time. While my wife still doesn't understand why anyone would need to get more sunset shots when they already have so many to choose from, she did sacrifice dinner time together recently. I set out alone to a nearby park - dogs weren't allowed there.

I wasn't alone long. As I trekked along a wilderness trail, the entrance of which was marked by a sign showing an alligator chasing a dog and its owner, I soon became aware of the scourge of Florida salt marshlands at dusk - the ubiquitous no-see-um. I thought I had protected myself against these minuscule pests with a voracious appetite by liberally applying a 98% deet ointment, but by next morning I discovered all the unprotected places that they had discovered. The itch finally disappeared after 7 days and the bite marks after 10.

I thought the sunset was worth it. My wife doesn't understand.

(10-22mm  f5.6  1/200 sec  ISO200)

For more superb Sunset Sunday shots, be sure to visit Scott's blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

For the beauty of the earth ...

     "To look out at this kind of creation and
       not believe in God is to me impossible."
       (Astronaut John Glenn)
       "Beauty... is the shadow of God on the universe."
        (Gabriela Mistral, DesolacĂ­on)

       “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
        to receive glory and honour and power,
        for you created all things,
        and by your will they were created
        and have their being.”
        (Revelation 4:11)

        "For since the creation of the world,
         God's invisible qualities - his eternal
         power and divine nature - have been
         clearly seen, being understood from
         what has been made, so that men are
         without excuse."
         (Romans 1:20)

(60mm  f5.6  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(60mm  f2.8  1/1400 sec  ISO200)

 (60mm  f5.6  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Speechless Saturday

(well almost ...)

No, I'm not starting a competition with Wordless Wednesday ;-) I had a lot of thoughts running through my head as I was reviewing shots from a recent evening photo shoot, and in the end I decided just to post the shots. There, I've already said too much.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We're all kids at heart when ...

... there's a fireworks display. I saw evidence of that tonight when I waited patiently for the show to start. I'd forgotten that the Coconut Festival (I think that's the local version of a Winter Festival without the winter) was on this weekend and one of the features was a fireworks display. Last night I got my reminder when we watched it from a mile away, on our front lawn. I immediately made a note in our daytimer so I wouldn't miss it tonight.

I arrived in plenty of time to get a good spot and get set up. And I watched as young and old arrived with eager anticipation. And we weren't disappointed ! Despite the residue falling on my head and all around me, since I was downwind from the launch site, I stayed focused on capturing my first fireworks shots. There was much clapping and cheering from old and young alike when the grand finale was over. For those few moments, we were all kids again !

(all shots made with an 18-55mm lens, at f11, shutter speed of 6 seconds, ISO100)

click on image for a better view

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've mentioned in earlier posts that we lived out west near Calgary, Alberta for about 15 years where on more than one occasion the weather changed from the depths of winter freezing (-30C/-22F) to balmy (21C/70F) in the span of a day. That welcome weather contrast was due to a phenomenon known as a chinook (an Indian word meaning 'snow eater').

I think our children back home would welcome a chinook today. We received a couple of photos from one of my daughters this morning - their first, and early, taste of the season to come. I put a couple of photos of what we've had to 'endure' this week beside hers. Perhaps I'll wait a few days before I mention this post to them. (Well, maybe not).

Note: I experimented last week with a new view offered by Blogger. While I liked the many different ways photos and posts could be presented, many people found it difficult to post comments, and I haven't been able to see some of the information widgets. For now I'm reverting to my old (and familiar) template.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ain't it the truth

"If I would have known that grandchildren were going to be so much fun I would have had them first !" (Bill Laurin)

"Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old." (Mary H. Waldrip)

Advice to parents: "Have children while your parents are still young enough to take care of them." (Rita Rudner)

"Grandparents are there to help their grandchildren get into mischief they haven't thought of yet." (Gene Perret)

"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild." (Welsh Proverb)

"The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with no grandchildren." (Doug Larson)

And here are our three (so far ...):

Hailey (7)

Lilly (4 AND a half)

Graydon (almost 2)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

'Walking trees'

The more you observe and learn, the more you realize how little you know about this wonderful, complex Creation we've been commanded to be good stewards of.

An encounter with a fellow dog lover at the harbour near here (where I made my current header shot) provided us with the location of a doggy beach near appropriately-named Lover's Key state park. We spent several hours there yesterday, and although I limited the number of shots I made, I saw all sorts of interesting things, among them - mangroves.( I'll share some others at a later time).

Of course, there's a lot of interesting information to be learned about them, not the least of which is that they thrive in salt water and yet are uniquely created to filter salt out. They provide habitat for many species of fish, crabs, and birds. And they can be severely damaged by as little as a few hours of freezing temperatures (if you're interested in learning more, check this out). I learned that the ones we saw, and are pictured below, are known as red mangroves.

Monday, October 31, 2011

On the road again ...

I'm quite fond of driving and don't find it a daunting task to spend a couple of days on the road. I'm the one behind the wheel on our road trips because (according to my wife) I make a bad passenger. I consider a road trip successful if it's uneventful i.e. no traffic surprises, no weather surprises, and no bedbugs ! And I'm always thankful that our guardian angel flies as fast as we do.

We were again blessed with beautiful fall scenery as we travelled south through the country from New York State to Florida. Here and there my trusty Canon was able to slow (most of) the pixels down from 120kph / 75mph to give you a glimpse.

(I used an 18-55mm lens, kept the aperture at f5.6 and ISO at 200 with various shutter speeds)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

At journey's end

After 2,519km / 1,565mi and a few days of settling in and getting things ship shape, we were ready to take in a quiet evening at the waterfront.

(I did manage to capture a few images of our journey down here, although the pixels were flying by at 120kph / 75mph - I'll include a few in an upcoming post).

To satisfy my own curiosity, I tested our internet download speed here ( Turns out it's 433 times faster than our connection back home ! I think I'll be able to start catching up on visits :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest photographer

As some of you may already know, I'm not a (voluntary) morning person. I think that my better work is done once the day is well under way. My wife awakened me a few days ago with a bad news/good news story. The bad news was that I had missed a most glorious sunrise (which I do, of course, on most occasions). I mentioned to her that if it was glorious enough to wake me up early, then I could certainly make the supreme sacrifice and get some shots. That's where the good news came in - she had obviously heard me mention 'ABC' in the past - and she had grabbed my camera and captured the sunrise.

It was just left to me to put a collage together. So, from today's guest photographer, I present a glorious sunrise.

Internet update: first I'd like to again thank everyone for their visits and comments - you daily sustain me with them, and I read your comments with much pleasure ! As our intermittently fair/extremely poor internet connection permits, I've been making some visits to see your work. When it's very poor (e.g. tonight), it's almost impossible to load blogs, and to post on my own. The expectation is that our current connection will be replaced in 5-6 months (oh that I may be granted patience !). The good news is that we'll be down south next week where we have an excellent connection and I'll be able to resume visits.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coming to an end

There's a trite but true saying that all good things must come to an end, and so it is with the spectacle of autumn's magnificent colours. I'm sure that there are still places where the rain and strong winds haven't left barren limbs reaching for a gray sky, but those are disappearing quickly. I had a last opportunity to load up a memory card with autumn memories this past weekend. Accompanied by one of my daughters, who has recently taken up photography, and 3 canine friends, we braved sullen skies and a steady drizzle to make a trek into the woods.

The leaves will continue to fall and carpet the ground until a hard frost is followed by the first snowfall which in turn will cover everything under a soft blanket. Then life will slow down and rest for several months, until the cycle begins again. And we can be as assured of that as of His faithfulness.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Perishable moments

Perishability in a photograph is important in a picture.  If a photograph looks perishable we say, "Gee, I'm glad I have that moment."  John Loengard

(HDR - 3 shots - 10-22mm  f22  1/6 - 1/100 sec  ISO200)

(SOOC -no editing - 10-22mm  f16  3.2 sec  ISO200; same place 35 min. later)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reflective moments

The weather folks have forecasted 4 days of rain, starting tomorrow. While I'm not opposed to making photos in rainy weather (in fact rainy days can present excellent and interesting photo ops), I had a specific spot in mind early this evening that would be much less inviting if the chest-high grass was dripping wet.

And so, Sasha and I spent a quiet hour and a half watching the sun set and the full moon rise, during which time I tripped the shutter on a few occasions. Oh, yes, I did capture the sunset - which would be difficult over the next four days - but I'll save it for Sunset Sunday.

Note: I've been making some visits to you kind folks who leave comments here when my internet connection permits; I haven't been able to visit all of you (yet) but I'm plodding along. Within a few weeks I hope to be down south where I'll get to enjoy blinding (well, by comparison) internet speed :-)

(images for these 2 shots were made with an 18-55mm lens, at f16, ISO200 and shutter speeds ranging from 1/2 to 13 secs; Photomatix was used to render the HDR images)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The world through rose-coloured glasses

First off, a Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow bloggers here in Canada. May we never take for granted all that we're blessed with in this great country.

Today I had the opportunity to see first hand what the world might look like when seen through rose-coloured glasses. A few of us went for a walk down a small dirt road which wanders through the woods just a few miles from our home. As I was remarking on the fall colours (first photo), one of my daughters suggested I look at them through her sunglasses. After recovering from optic overload I decided to shoot the same scene through her sunglasses (second photo).

(both photos made with an 18-55mm lens at f8.0, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/50 and 1/25 sec respectively)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Time out

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."  (Elizabeth Lawrence)

So we went out early this evening to a part of the picturesque Rideau Canal to do just that. We met a young lad out for a stroll with his dog, and both of them were obviously enjoying one of the few remaining warm evenings of this beautiful Indian summer. A short while later we came across a father who'd taken his young son and daughter to go fishing off a bridge across the nearby Rideau River (coincidentally I was on this bridge exactly a year ago). It seemed like we each had left something much less important undone.

(18-55mm  f9.0  1/5 sec  ISO200)

click on image for a better view