Thursday, May 31, 2018

Let the dithering begin!

Yesterday I posted a preview of the photos in the running for image of the month. Maybe I was hasty. I just looked at the camera chip a few minutes ago, and am musing about adding any of these. I'm going to like thinking about which of them will be the one, and why.

I was thinking today about photographers who travel to the ends of the earth to get great photos. Yes, they can end up with gorgeous photos, but there are days I think, 'really, you can't find anything beautiful to photograph near home?' All of these are taken in our garden, meaning I probably walked further inside the house to get the camera, than I did from the door to the garden.

If I'm willing to drive a couple hours or so, I can get to some of the most stunning scenery on earth. Getting a good shot is a matter of doing a bit of planning, maybe shifting some sleep a few hours forward or back, and getting a bit lucky with the clouds and sun. If not this trip, then the next, and in the meantime you've been out enjoying yourself. Right?

Work is cutting into that out enjoying thing a bit, but there are compensations. It's always sweet preparing the invoice for the first month's work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A preview

Remember last month? Where there wasn't much choice for April image of the month? Well, my goodness! Here's the choices I have to work with to select the May issue of the month. Any of these would beat that one, but I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. I'm looking forward to happily dithering about it.

A few of you have expressed thoughts about some of them along the way. Feel free to vote for the one you like in comments. You might need to embiggen this.

I tried getting closer to this, and it didn't turn out so well. So you get this one instead.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Peaceful. Calming. Necessary

Some days I wonder if I've completely lost it. Things that ought not to be difficult, and in fact were not difficult in the past are becoming rage inducing ordeals. A few days ago it was trying to get something into and out of dropbox on different computers.

Today it was Amazon. One of our favourite authors has released a novella called The Flowers of Vashnoi. (The title tells you who, if you're a fan.) I saw the email from Amazon saying we might be interested. Linda read the sample and wanted it, and asked me to buy it.

I've done this before. I picked up the iPad and tried to buy. (Ok, it was several years ago, but so what?)  No way. I could not find a way to buy it. Amazon just kept telling me I could read it. Eventually I logged into the computer, bought it, and sent it to my iPad. Linda is reading it now.

There are many days now I think this whole internet and computers in general thing has jumped the shark. Some of you know I gave up on Evernote because they kept changing their interface. Once upon a time it was a useful app. Then one day I'm looking at my device, wondering how to add a note. I decided that if I had to figure out the interface every time I wanted to use it, I was done.

Another example, Snag It. It's a a screen capture app. Back in the early 2000's, it was totally the bomb. I could be in an app, do a keyboard command, draw a square, alt tab to Word, Cmd V to paste it, all faster than talking about it. I did a zillion screen shots while writing business requirements documents and test results and how to manuals. Now that simple app is a jungle. I can use it, but it does so many things that I don't want it to do, that it doesn't do the things I want it to do very well at all. Not happy.

Don't get me started on Maximo. Yes, I know, I chose to take this job, knowing how complex and bassackwards Maximo is behind the scenes. But there are lots of days I wonder just what they were thinking when they designed it, or what drugs they were smoking when they were "improving" it. Fortunately, for much of what I have to do I need not look at the front end. Though one of these days I'm going to have to rewrite the MAX DECODE statement to untwist attributes. (If you know what that means, you feel my pain. If you don't, treasure your ignorance.)

And Excel and dates. OMG. There are lots of days I want a button on Excel to make it stupider and stop trying to help me. I want dates to be presented in the one true format and none other. Today is 2018-05-29 for ease of reading, but for the grownups it's 20180529. All together now. There is no other rational way of writing a date. If you think so, you are part of the brainwashed by Microsoft problem, and we can't be friends anymore.

It keeps getting more and more complicated. App designers keep adding "features" and changing the interface to make it look like they are doing something. Usually it's making it worse. Apple is long past that point. If you have any doubt, just try to use iTunes. Don't get me started on the program that deals with photos. I used to totally be an Apple guy. Now I'm wondering if I'm ever going to buy another Apple device.

In the midst of so much rage, it's nice that there's some calm happening. What could be more soothing than some white flowers with faint pink or yellow highlights? Plus water drops! What more do you want?

Monday, May 28, 2018


Most people think the blossom is the pretty part of the flower, and some people trying to take photos only want to take photos of a perfect blossom. Not even just perfect, but PERFECT!!!, and with water drops too.

But thing is, they're beautiful even when they aren't perfect, or are past the full blossom stage most people like. If I can get the light right, sometimes the wrinkled old blossom is just as interesting as the fresh new blossom.

I know you're naturally thinking I'm going to segue into comparing people, and you're right! Though I don't like to be predictable. As you know, I'm not much for photographing people, but when I do, I prefer people with some character in their face. A bit of grey hair doesn't hurt either. There is something about the look in an older person's eyes that just isn't there in a youth, and if I ever get into photographing people in a bigger way, that's what I'd be looking at capturing.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Red and Yellow and an answer

Firstly here's another look at that closeup I showed you the other day. It's a little solar powered light. These days it gets enough juice it's still running in the morning.

Lots of yellow and red to choose from, and there's even more yellow coming, if they turn out.

So much pollen and such a rich yellow!

This is the last of the blooming daffodils.

I am loving this deep rich red!

This is a tricky one, in some light it's red, and in other light it's orange.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Theme? What theme?

One of my photo buddies (Hi Sean, and there is a link to his blog in my blog roll.) and I have several times had discussions about groups of photos. There is such a set currently at the top of his blog, I include the link because when you are reading this a few days or weeks or months or years from now it will no longer be at the top.

His collection (go look, I'll wait till you get back) is clearly a related set. I am still struggling with individual photos, and the idea of a group of photos carefully chosen to tell a story, or to create links between them merely by their juxtaposition kind of baffles me.

This grouping happens to be taken all in a row, though at much different times of the day, on different days, even, I think. They happen to be between two other photos that made it to the blog, and I felt the need to fill in. So you get 6 more or less random photos. They aren't even all flowers, though they are all colourful.

I've no idea if they tell a story, or they gain meaning from each other. Maybe putting them together is detracting from admiring a single one. I never know these things, and make it up as I go along.

Anyone care to guess what the red one is? I am really quite taken with one of the photos, and it is in contention for image of the month. You could guess which that one is as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

More backlighting

Even though it often means lying down on grass damp with dew, I'm up for it. Or down. Whatever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Closed and open

This isn't the same one, I'm not that organized. In fact it's three different clematis plants.

When I started this, I had some clever segue all planned out, and now it escaped. I blame Dropbox. Here and I thought my novel was being backed up to there. It was, for a while, but not recently, even though I've been doing what I was always doing. So I tried to update it so I could email a novel snippet to a buddy. (The best buddy!)

Well holy doodle! What an ordeal that turned into! I figured I'd use the machine that already has email set up. Open scrivener open the file, copy paste, done.

Not. Grrrr.

It wasn't updating. I eventually forced it, but then it turned it into a zip file, just on that one machine. Doodling around to unzip, then it turns out the version of Scrivener on my laptop is more recent than the version on the email computer, and it wouldn't open the files.

More Grrrrr.

Eventually I used Notes to get it from the laptop to the old Mac and sent. Then save all the novel files to a recent place, and copy them to my raid drive. I'll have to figure out a slicker way of doing that.

Then I copied all the dropbox files to my raid drive and make sure they're ok (most are obsolete backups), Then I deleted all the dropbox files and figuratively peed on the whole works. Never gonna use it again. It can join Evernote in perdition.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's taken till now to get a shot of

The tulips are in full bloom and I am loving it! But there's this one. It's, it's, I can barely say it. White.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Looking back a bit

There is no method to my madness when it comes to publishing photos. Sometimes they are hot off the camera sensor. Some might be a few days or weeks old on publish if I've got a set in mind, like the Allium Episode. (I got all confused looking for it, thinking the title was 'the day of the allium'.) Some might languish in the edited folder and never make it to the blog, and I discover it a while later. Sometimes I'll be going back through Lightroom looking for something, find something else, and wonder why I never edited it. Although I've since learned to look at the other photos around ones like that. I once spent some time editing a shot into something really quite nice, only to find the photo I'd taken a moment later was nicer, and already edited using less effort.

Which leads me to my thought of the day, relating to editing photos. I've mentioned that a light touch is necessary when editing flower blossom photos. Some very few of my shots need almost no editing at all, and that usually pleases me. I've been musing over the concept that a photo with less editing is a better photo, but I'm not sure I really believe it. I often see photos that appear to be over-edited, and look un-natural. (I've done this occasionally, for specific artistic reasons, or so I say to myself.)

There are those who would argue that a ray of light landing on a sensor already goes through significant computer processing before I even see the image on the camera screen, let alone the full sized computer screen. More editing in Lightroom is just more computer manipulation.

My thinking is that if I see the image in my head before I take the shot, and tweak the camera settings to better match that shot, then less editing would seem to indicate that I'm getting better at using my camera.

This is all quite aside from what makes a 'better' photo. Photographers and artists and viewers have been arguing about that since it was invented.

Your thoughts? Is less editing better?

Anyways, here's a photo from a week ago. I've no idea why I didn't include it when I did purple earlier this week.

This one didn't exist when I did yellow.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Somehow, a simple drop of water changes everything about a flower photo.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Two experimental trees, and Linda

There is a lovely tree near the Reader Rock Gardens. Some of my local readers know it. I've been wanting to get some photos of it for a while. Going into work on Friday I noticed it's blossoming. I've got a shot in mind. I'd love to shoot it in morning mist.

On Friday I wanted to sleep in, and that sort of happened. The light was nice so we zoomed out to try to capture some photos of the tree, then do breakfast, (OEB, if you're wondering) then do some shopping. It's the first time I've spent longer in the line to get in the store, than to pay for the stuff. That's what you get for being early on a long weekend.

While BBQ bison ribeye steak was in progress, I was looking at the wind lashing the neighbour's tree. The light was pretty good. After supper I set up the camera and tried to get the shot I had in mind. I rarely get up to f32 or anywhere close. I'm usually down at the other end. This big number means the aperture is closed off. I wanted the exposure time to be longer to get a sense of the wind blowing the tree around. If I had a filter I'd have put it on. This isn't quite what I had in mind, but almost. I'm going to wait a couple hours till closer to sunset, or maybe even after and try again. In the meantime you get a work in progress.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Un-retired, a 3 week perspective, and orange

Zoom! This has been interesting, if somewhat tiring. Last you heard I was happily retired, puttering with my camera and novel, and other stuff. What the heck, you ask?

It's been a story a long time in the making. The last time I worked full time hours was back at Penn West, late 2015 or so. Sometime shortly after the Great Purge at the beginning of September I started working part time hours there. My buddies went on to find other jobs. Several of them at Keyera, where I went to work for a while.

One of them landed at AltaGas, and promptly started to pitch me, and them. She thought they needed my skills, and she was right. That was about 2 years ago. There was a short term contract at Keyera, and I thought the race was on to see if AltaGas or Keyera would get an offer to me first. I knew people from both organizations and I was interested to see how it turned out.

Keyera's project has a lot of moving parts. I'm pretty sure if I'd been willing to sign up for a 3 year full time gig, I'd have become one of the people moving those parts around. A part time role never jelled, and thats the way it goes sometimes.

AltaGas started getting serious late last year, and it's been a bit of a slog. Sometimes it seems to take organizations a long time to do what seems to be a simple thing. Within the last month another buddy from Penn West started pitching me a role with yet another guy I knew from Penn West (we're everywhere now!). There's no harm in talking, because you never know if the wheels will get bolted onto the wagon, or stay bolted on. In the end the offers came at the same time, and after a stressful day thinking about it, I picked AltaGas and started May 1.

Turns out that part way up the chain of command above me is a guy I worked with at BP all these many years ago. Just down the hallway from him is a guy from Talisman that I knew somewhat, though I didn't actually work with him.

New projects are always a bit of a blur. There's the routine stuff, getting shown your office (cubicle), where the washroom is, the printers, office supplies and such. Being dragged around introduced to everyone you might work with. Finding the meeting rooms. Getting oriented to the project, and trying  not to be too horrified at what was done by people who are no longer there.

In my case, getting used to working a 40 hour week again. Its been a while, almost 3 years. There are two main paths to working part time. One is to work some set number of hours or days a week. At Keyera it was 3 days a week, and the last year or so Penn West it was 4 days a week. That was great. The other model is to work full time, for a short term contract. That's AltaGas. I'm there till Oct 31, and boy do I have lots to do!

It's funny how different organizations find certain things hard. At Penn West whiteboards were easy. Mention wanted one, and they'd ask how big, and shortly later a couple guys would show up to screw it into the walls. BP had magnetized whiteboards that were totally the bomb. I requested a whiteboard the first day at work, and it took AltaGas 3 weeks to deliver. On the other hand, I requested a third big monitor, and it showed up a few hours later. Gotta love that.

Once upon a time, back in the early 2000's, one of my work buddies told me that his goal was to schedule his working life the way most people scheduled their vacations. As in, about a month a year. He does lots of traveling doing things for Habitat for Humanity, and good for him. That gave me lots to think about, and started working towards working part time. My thinking was that between 55 and 65 I'd like to work about half the time, maybe working more in the earlier part of that, and less in the later part. That brings in income to defer living on investments, pays cash for new toys or trips, and gives time to enjoy the toys and trips. I think I'm about on track for that.

There are lots of people working late in life, not because they enjoy it, but because they need to. That's sad. It's true that some people have expensive unplanned adventures, but lots of people just have no clue how to manage money. Of course, there are some people working because they enjoy it. That's mostly me. It's an interesting project, and there's lots I can contribute to it, and that's fun.

I'm still swimming 3 days a week, and that feels pretty good. My run and bike have fallen off the edge of the world, though. Sigh. It's the long weekend and the weather is nice, I suppose I could run tomorrow, if I really wanted. I suppose I should. But will I? Probably not. I'm feeling a bit run down.

The photography has been going pretty well. In fact, photographs have been the main part of the blog for several weeks now. Those that like my words might have been having withdrawl symptoms or something, so I thought I'd get a little more wordy.

That's not to say you have to do without a photo. The tulips have been lovely this year! Here's some orange ones.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Red (NSFW)

Red is hard for cameras. Really hard. Our eyes see the full rich red of a rose or a tulip, with all the subtle gradations of colour and the texture of the plant. The camera sees red and it's little sensor brain is overwhelmed or something.

Then there's editing in Lightroom or other software. It's trivially easy to over do it and end up with an unnatural looking result. Several times tonight I had to reset and start over. Pretty well for anything this red, the auto button is useless.

Still, I love the challenge and the learnings. I'm still working through the aperture settings and getting a grip on the exact effect I'm looking for. I won't say it's more difficult on a full frame camera, it's just more exact, and the camera screen isn't maybe as precise as one might like. I'm trying to get into the habit of finding a shot I like, then playing with aperture more than I do now. That should give me more choice about the artistic nature of the shot. Now that I see that first shot on screen, I'm wishing the depth of field had been shifted towards the back ever so slightly.

These were all shot in the evening, when that side of the house in in shade. I liked the deep ruby glow amid the shade, and tried to capture that. Lightroom wanted to crank the brightness way up. Yes, the two middle ones are the same plant with different camera settings, not just the same shot tweaked differently in Lightroom.