Monday, May 22, 2017

Busy day!

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. There are photos. I haven't had time to go through and edit them.
Glenbow Ranch. You get one photo. Sorry. Loved both, will return another time, more later from both. Stay tuned.

This is the view not far from the parking lot.

The open water swim didn't happen, though not from any shortage of efforts from BRBE. Another time.

Today I consummated the sale of a framed photo on canvas. Yay me!

The garden continues to explode. I've been doing a series of photos of one particular Allium. Linda calls me a stalker, chasing the poor helpless thing. Helpless my ass, it looks like the face hugger alien about to explode from a body. Once it's done than I'll post the series of photos.

The first wine kit of the season is bottled! More yay me!

Yet another pretty flower. This was great for practicing a delicate touch on the Lightroom controls to keep it looking right in the morning light.

Another 4 day weekend gone in a blur, maybe faster than expected because I was outside and busy for so much of it. We have to do that, enjoy summer when it's here. It might not be here next week. What was that weather advisory again?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celina. And more flowers

Celina is quite a pretty cat, but she's a harder photograph than Curtis. She blends in to more of the backgrounds, and unless she's asleep, doesn't really sit still for me. But here you are anyways. It's only after I edited the photo that I noticed the giant thumb.

Lots of photos of the garden of course. I was thinking, after taking the photos of course, that I should have misted them with a bit of water, and then taken the photo. Maybe next time. Live and learn. Stay tuned.

Ants on the peonies are pretty reliable, and they hold still. I've been reading up on extension tubes to get more magnification. One day soon you'll see me out there the tripod, giving the peonies the giant photographic eyeball, using them as background in order to capture ants. If anyone wants in on the ant-ly action, let me know and I'll make lots of coffee.

One of my buddies is almost obsessed with photos of a flower blossom backlit by the sun, showing the delicate tracery of flower blossom stuff. The top of this tulip is strongly lit by the evening sun, and the bottom was in shade. The whole thing glowed like hot glass fresh from the kiln. Not overexposed or oversaturated, just a beautiful strong orange. I wanted to see if I could get that same effect to show up in a photo. I think this gets a passing grade, but still needs work.

This is one of the shots that happened without thinking. I was on my way somewhere else when I looked down, and loved the almost metallic sheet of the purple, and the twisted blossom shape. Click. Next. The trick was to edit to keep that shade, and not overdo it.

With the abstracts, it's not only easy, it's desirable to push the colour, push the sharpening, push everything. Nobody knows what it really is, so they can't say that looks wrong. All they can do is react to the colours, lines, shapes, and feel what the image says.

Flowers are a little tougher. There's the delicate nature of the leaves or blossoms. Plus most of us know what an orange tulip, or a red rose, or a yellow daffodil looks like, and if you push the photo too far it won't look real. It's easy to tweak it to turn a red to orange or vice versa, and much of the time nobody would know. Depending on the plant and variety, both could be natural colours.

Speaking earlier of unnatural colours, here's one of my recent abstracts.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Be you a ladybug, or be you a lily beetle?

Everybody knows what a ladybug looks like. Red carapace, black spots. They are a great addition to the garden, chowing down on aphids. Not so many know what a lily beetle looks like. The adults have a bright red carapace as well, but no spots. The larva form look like little slugs are are disgusting, doing tremendous damage to lilies. The adults are no slouch in the damage department.

We noticed the lily beetles last year, and struggled all year long with them. This year we got onto them early, and have been killing them on sight. They're tough little things, you have to press quite hard to hear and feel them go crunch. It's very satisfying. I don't think I've killed any ladybugs along the way. They don't seem to like tea tree oil, so I've been spraying the lilies with a dilute solution of it almost every day.

Some gardeners have had to give up on having lilies entirely, which is sad. We love lilies, and are willing to struggle to keep them. You may confidently look forward to many photos of lilies a bit later in the year. So far they are all small, but growing fast. No buds yet.

More garden photos for you.

In other news, BRBE and I rand down at the south end of Fish Creek, south of 22X and on the west side of the river, then up almost to the big bridge over the Bow near the treatment plant. 12 K, 1:33 for a 7:45 pace overall. We stopped for a bio break just after 8 K, and I never really got back in the groove. At 10 K my hip flexors were talking to me so I turned around, and 12 K was close to the car. Michelle's plan had her running a few minutes more so I stretched, walked, and hung out in the shade watching all the activity.

Before and after the run we tried to visit the owls, but they weren't home. It was a lovely day for a run! Sunny and warm but not too hot, with a nice breeze off the river. Pity every run couldn't be like this, but then we'd get soft and spoiled.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I shot Bambi in Fish Creek!

With the camera. Sheesh guys, what were you thinking?

I was out for a lovely ride on Estela down in Fish Creek park. She's really too much bike for the bike paths, but I wanted to get her off the trainer and out in the fresh air. She's a happy bike now. Well, except for the sticky chain that needs to be cleaned. We won't get into the text conversation about that.

Just near bridge one I startled Bambi grazing about 10 feet off the path. By the time I got the camera out of the bag and turned on the distance had grown a bit, but that's why they make zoom lenses.

The ride took me only as far as bridge 4, and some time along the top of the ridge. The park is green everywhere, and the river is running high and fast. Here's a few more photos for you to get your green fix. Yes, Terry, I waved in the general direction of your house during the ride.

That last one might be a nice place for runners to do stairs. Not like the insane stairs at the curling club, or Winter Club, or North Glenmore park.

The ride was only 15 K or so, over about an hour and a half. Not a record pace, shall we say? Then again, I wasn't trying for it. This was a nice ride with lots of stops for photos. I was invited on a 90 K ride on Sunday, and I turned it down. I'd be dropped SO FAST! Just not ready for that. Maybe next year.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

First bee photo of the year

The trees in the back are in full blossom. There's been a few bees around but I think they know it's early yet. Still, one was sniffing around what I think is the cherry tree, and I managed to get a good shot of it. I'm not as close as I'd like to be, but there will be all summer for that. Stay tuned.

It's the beginning of another 4 day weekend for both of us, which is pretty rare. There is much gardening planned. Linda just got a box of more lilies, and has been contemplating where to put them. Plus 4 more peonies. And a bunch of bedding out plants that I think will mostly go in the lodge window boxes and the various planter pots.

I want to get a layer of stain along the top of the fence to keep the worst of the weather off. This should be interesting. I was up there pressure washing it last weekend. If it was going to be visible I might go back and do a better job on parts of it, but nobody will ever see it.

If I could count on this Alleum blossom holding still, I'd love to time lapse it. You can see it's just on the verge of exploding. Stay tuned.

I think Linda's work has finally had it sink in that she will be out of there very soon. It's getting frantic. I suspect she's going to collapse in a heap for the first few days of retirement. My work contract is well in hand. I'm waiting for other people to do some stuff, then I'll be busy, then I'll be done. There are some preliminary discussions about involving me in another related project later this year, but we'll see how that pans out.

The swim has been sort of sucky the last month or so. I'm not sure why. Cranky shoulders, maybe in sympathy with the cranky hams. Or maybe it's the hip bone connected to the thigh bone thing. But where a slow 500 m has been about it for the last little while, I was about 600 m in before I noticed, and finished off 1000 m in 18:50, and that's with a parachute pants floatie holding me up while he tried to decide if he was going to stand in my way in the lane, or go somewhere else. He went elsewhere. Then it was 500 m backstroke. All that was after a 20 minute water run in the dive tank. All in all a great way to start the day. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not sure what it is, but it's pretty

A new flower showed up today. We're not sure what it's called. I love the ruffled orange centre.

That one is just out of frame on the right in this photo.

Another yellow tulip opening up. I almost love this stage for photography more than the fully open stage. Here you get a hint of a peek at the centre, and there are layers of texture right where you can see them and get lots in focus.

In other news the war on the lily beetles is continuing. I've been spraying a dilute tea tree oil on the lilies and it seems to be working. We don't see many anymore, but we keep hunting them. It's very satisfying to crush their little carapaces with a splintering crunch. I think the ants take away the remains. Pity the ants don't take on the beetles while they're alive.

It's still cold here. All the bedding out plants are safely tucked away. All the geraniums froze to death a few nights ago. They say it might snow overnight. Such is springtime in Alberta.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Similar, but not the same, maybe IOTM preview

Here's some tree buds from about a week ago. Just because.

There had been some similar to this, not quite so far along. They are starting to burst out, but it's been cool and cloudy here, so maybe that's slowing them down.

This one sort of reminds me of the Martian death machines from War of the Worlds. I refer of course, to the 1953 classic, not the 2005 travesty with Tom Cruise.

Lastly, a perennial blog favourite, Curtis!

He had been lying beside me on the desk, lounging as only he can. Every time I reached for the camera to capture this, he perked up and looked at me. Of course he expected me to be petting him, that's why he's lying there and what a stupid human I am not to have grasped this basic fact.

While I was editing that shot and getting the light balanced, I realized he had been holding really still, and the camera caught a good look at his eye. Look at the refection of the window, and the neat bits of cat eye anatomy. This is likely the best photo of a cat eye you will see this year, well worth embiggening, so enjoy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

So many garden photos!

One of the items on my weekend to do list was do a photo walk through Fish Creek. Unfortunately there was a cougar sighting in Bebo Grove. This is the closest place for me to park, but sort of central to the whole west end of the park, and near where all the bridges are. I was told in no uncertain terms I was not to run there, and assumed that also applied to a photo walk.

What wasn't on my list, but has happened anyways, is a ton of garden shots. Flowers are blooming and growing. All sorts of stuff is coming up, and I am loving the macro lens. You're probably all sick of flower shots by now, but that's too bad. If not, scroll down.

There is a little half marathon run a month out now. I admit to having some doubts about the whole darned thing. My hamstrings have been cranky for a while now, and don't seem to be getting better in any significant way. Last week was supposed to be a 13 K run, and I bailed at 11. That was the back up, back up plan. According to the original plan, this weekend would have been 18 or 19 K, and looking forward to taper.

I did 5 and barely made it. The last 300 m my left leg was getting very cranky. 5K in 35:40 as an easy run a month out from a half marathon is not promising. If someone wants my bib for the Millarville half, transfers are allowed by their rules. Email me and we'll talk about it. I'm not going to run this one hoping to just finish without further injury.

And how about that sunset light show last night! Wow! Take a look. This is looking north. For a while I was thinking off to the east would be the show, so I'm glad I was looking over my shoulder every now and then.

Here's the promised flower shots.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Purple, thinking of Susi

I realized today that some of the blooms are a lovely purple, and it reminded me I haven't chatted with my buddy Susi in a while. So the rest of you get purple too. No special order. No, I don't have any idea what they are. I think one is a tulip, and one is a tree peony.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Another full moon

The other day I posted a pair of shots and asked which one was the one I'd worked on. There was a nearly full moon and a peony. Not together, that would take lots of work.

One of my faithful readers suggested it was the moon, and had good reason for thinking so. But, surprise! I'd been out doing some sunset photos. Walking back to the house I looked before crossing the street, and noticed this nice moon. I stood on the street to get the shot with the tree in it just right, and took 6 shots right after the other. No change to the setting, just trying to hand hold the camera still. Total elapsed time about 50 seconds.

The peony, on the other hand. I was lying on my tummy, rolling around like beached whale, trying different angles and settings, trying to get the background blur right, and catch the light glinting off the spider web under construction. I gave up on that last one.

The other night was the full moon and I was out trying again. This time I used a little piece of cedar mulch to prop up the camera lens on the lattice fence. I was playing with settings again for a bunch of shots, and finally ended up with this. Different tree this time.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I got luck and panned an ant

Yes, I got lucky, I admit it. Lucky with not one, but two bug shots. The first is a spider from the other day. If you look carefully you can see it's starting to work on a web. Doesn't it sort of remind you of the face-hugger from the Alien movies? Maybe that's what spiders dream of.

And the ant was frisky, up and down the rose, back and forth. You might not be able to see it in this version of the photo, but if you look at the tips of the thorns, they are a bit motion blurred. I didn't care what of the plant was in focus or not, I was trying to capture the ant. Look at it's little legs. The part closest to the body is almost in focus, and the ends are a blur.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

So it was Osprey, not eagles

I'd mentioned when BRBE and I were out for a run on the weekend we saw a huge bird's nest on top of one of the traffic signs on 22X. We thought it was an eagle, since all we could see was this white head and hooked beak.

I was out with a buddy and discovered that it was an Osprey.

These are cropped quite a bit. Now I really see why bird photographers need the big zoom lens. A 200 mm just doesn't cut it.

While we were at it I got a few more birds as well.


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