Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Once again, I miss my own bloggy-versary

What can I say? I'm good about our own anniversary and Linda's birthday. I have a brother and a cousin that share a birthday on a major holiday (different years, and HBDTY R and R, not that the second R reads my blog) so that's easy to remember. I know my own birthdate, of course, but it seems to come around quicker and quicker every year, and it always sneaks up on me. I dread the question, what do you want for your birthday?

It's easy enough to put birthdays into your phone along with names, addresses, other contact info, and all that, and there are some in mine. I see birthday wishes on Facebook all the time, and that's because Facebook has told people to wish other people happy birthday. Am I the only one to think this is cheating? The Facebook users of you might be scratching your heads wondering, and I can assure you that no, you've never seen such a hint from Facebook for me. Facebook doesn't know when my birthday is. Birthdays aren't a big deal for me.

It's been 11 years for the blog now, and I'm still loving it. Over the lifetime of the blog that adds up to a blog every 1.409 days. Recently it's been pretty well daily. I've been thinking about some changes lately, but the only actual change is to trim off some blogroll deadwood. I figure if you haven't blogged in several years, you aren't going to. If you do resume, leave a note here so I know to go look.

I've been looking at that blogroll. It used to be that every morning, a bunch rolled up on the list since the previous night. Right now, the visible part of the list is all within the last 24 hours or so, and for lately, that's pretty good. Blogging doesn't seem to be as popular any more. I get lots of traffic from Beth at Shut Up and Run. Thanks for dropping in, guys, don't be afraid to say hello!

But I have no idea how much traffic other blogs get from me. None at all. Do you use my blogroll? For which blogs? (Blogroll, you ask? Tell me more.)

So until I say different, what you see is what you get. A hodgepodge, in other words. You don't know what your going to get. Maybe a single photo and hardly any text. Maybe the giant wall'o'text with only one photo to reward the slog. Maybe a mix.

I must say, that 11 years went by quickly. Zoom! Eight employers, if I've counted on my fingers correctly. Some might call me fickle. All I can say is, enjoy what you have, it will pass quickly.

The skies have been pretty interesting lately. Here's a couple you haven't seen.

So the questions.
Do you use my blogroll? 
For which blogs?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More of the beaver dam ramble, 1 tiny reflection

Here's a few more from the beaver dam flats ramble, a continuation of yesterday.

After the flats we went west, to where the Powderface trail comes out, I think. In any case the road started going down, and there was snow and ice on it. A few people were parked and getting ready for a hike. We turned around. This was part of the view on the way back. How we suffered.

I managed to capture this little bird, but the settings were still from the previous shot. I liked the little ripple around the bird, and the silhouette. In fact, I had to like it, or abandon the shot. Trying to tweak it in Lightroom to bring up the detail in the feathers just made it look odd.

We both looked at this for a while, and agreed that in the right light, there was probably a really nice shot here. The light being merely ok, we didn't spend too much time on it.

All in all it was a wonderful morning. I was out this morning (Tuesday) getting some photos of red clouds at sunrise. As sunrise shots they are nothing special, I think, but as reflections on water they would have been marvellous. Such are the trials and rewards of a landscape photographer.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Beaver dam, 1 of 2 posts

Some of you may remember when I spaced out a number of reflection shots over the whole week. I was on another photo ramble on the weekend with my buddy Sean, and got several reflection shots, and other photos as well. (You can see his, here.) Not enough, perhaps to space them out over the whole week, but probably too many to push into one post. I don't want to give you photo overload, after all.

This is very nearly the first shot of the morning.

Not too much later, looking the other way.

There are several beaver dams, but I don't recall which this one is. It was still early so I could play with settings for the water flow.

This was fun. I'd been walking along and just chanced to look over my shoulder. That patch of colour caught my attention right away. I even got an iPhone shot of the camera setup, and you can see it and this one on Instagram.

There is another post of more photos coming. There wasn't as much colour in the sky as we had hoped, but it was still a lovely morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Contemplation, and cats

Today is a bit of a contemplative day for me. You might want to go pour a beverage. Linda was up and out for yoga class a bit early. I had got up and made coffee, even though I probably could have snoozed longer, and was going through my morning routine. I wasn't in a rush to go do anything. I even snoozed in the chair a bit more, only to give Curtis a lap for a little longer, of course.

I think retirement is settling in for me. Often my periods of not working have been like busy holidays. Lots to do, including looking for the next work gig with varying degrees of effort. The idea was that I would return to some form of a day job.

My buddy Sean and I were out for a photo ramble Saturday morning.  (Stay tuned for the photos.) We're about the same age, and he and his wife are getting to the point they need to do math to understand if they can retire or not. Not yet, but soon, they hope. He's still working, and nothing he says about it is inducing any desire in me to return to the office. Neither do any of the tales my other working buddies tell me.

Photography has become a passion for me. I love getting out and looking for interesting shots. If someone were to want to buy a print of a photo, I'd be happy to work with them to get them exactly what they want. If someone wants to offer me an honorarium for doing some photo work I'm happy about that too. But I already know I don't want to set up and run a photography business. That's almost as tough a way to make a living as writing.

One of my neighbours lives right beside a giant excavation for the storm water drain under 24th St. He's also a photographer, and we were chatting about what to do with all the photos that generated. I know I've taken more than 50K photos in the last several years. There are at least 11,000 in the folder of edited photos. Think about it, 11,000 photos. Many are banal, with no redeeming artistic value whatsoever, of course. It's a shot of one of my neighbours at a pancake breakfast, for example. But there's more 500 that I'm really proud of, and would show to anybody. If you've been following my blog you've probably seen many of them. But what to do with them? I'm not so vain I want to pay for a web presence to display them. I'll think of something.

The realization has slowly been dawning on me that I don't want to do another triathlon of any distance. There are more than 10 years of habits built up around staying fit; going for a run, bike, or swim, though the road bike has been mostly gathering dust lately. Maintaining at least some level of fitness is important to me, but it's finding a balance that is difficult. I need to do some research around how much activity is optimal for people like me.

I was on my road bike fastened into the spin trainer for an easy 30 minute spin, which is sort of like using a Ferrari to get groceries. Really, if I'm not riding to train for a triathlon, I should sell the bike to someone that will ride it the way it was intended. Which will be a bit (a lot!) of a pang, Estela has been a sweet ride. Then there's all the other triathlon gear. If I'm not going to use it, why keep it?

I didn't run much over the summer, and have been getting back into it, at least a bit. 5 K nice and easy has been the distance lately. The swim has been tough, mentally. I think of myself as a swimmer, and lately my swims have been short and slow, by my standards. I've been hoping my shoulders will start feeling stronger and I can push harder on the swim, but it hasn't really been happening.

The writing has been interesting, fiddling through the subtle details of smoothing things into a unified timeline. It isn't particularly any closer to being a chunk of text I could show a publisher and sell commercially. I'm not even sure that's something I want to do. From what my writer buddies tell me, the part AFTER the book is written and sold, is the hard part. Publicity, trying to get people to buy your book. The model where the publisher took care of publicity, and sent the writer on booze-fuelled trips for book signings and readings are long gone. I've seen writers sitting at a table in Chapters, eager to sign a book for someone, anyone, and yet nobody even notices them. I'm not sure I can take that much rejection.

The hard part of planning for retirement is figuring out how long you'll live. Granny's birthday is today, she would have been 99, and in the scale of things she missed it by that much. I'm pretty sure that ISN'T the model I want to pick for retirement, though. My four grandparents lived to an average age of 86. Something to keep in mind.

So I'm thinking about changes to my daily routine. Any advice from people already retired? Anybody want to start making dates for some form of regular activities? Let me know.

No, Curtis isn't mad at her. He's grooming her, and she's barely putting up with it.

They often like to sleep together, though I wonder what Curtis thinks. This is one of his favourite spots. He can keep an eye on us and out the window for the hot buttered mouse he'd love to hunt. Then Celina comes along and moves in. Sometimes they settle down, sometimes there's a bit of a spat.

Celina can be a hard snoozer. She didn't notice the camera clicks at all. I like how she interlaces her paws and tail.

The email I'm using for photography related stuff is loungecatproductions. So I've been looking to get a photo of Curtis lounging. He does it extremely well, the trick is catching a photo of him doing it. This is almost it, but he perked up as I aimed the camera. He has a way of propping himself on his elbow that reminds me of the 50's tough guys with their T shirt rolled up to tuck a pack of cigarettes in, and leaning their elbows out the car window, hanging onto the roof.

There are more dawn reflection photos on the way, via Beaver Dam Flats.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Reflective riches, the other stuff along the way

It wasn't just reflection photos I was looking for. It was anything along the way that took my interest. This little guy wondering if we were going to feed him, though he was already nibbling on something.

This is where we went. 1786

This is who I went with. 1793

Some frosty vegetation along the way. 1799



I'm not sure where that streak of purple came from. Maybe it's a rainbow effect. 1820




A better shot of my photo buddy. 1828

If you missed any of them along the way, here's links to the reflection photos from Monday's walk. I went back and put in file numbers for each photo. Which is your favourite?

Did you figure out which ones were pure reflection with no dry land? (see below, I'd make it upside down if Blogger would let me.)


I'm out for photo rambles on a pretty regular basis, both in town and out, at various times of day or night. Let me know if you'd like to come along.

Spoiler below!

In One, 1769 and 1794.
In Two, 1742

Friday, October 26, 2018

Reflective riches 4

Yet more reflection shots from Monday. This is the same bridge, but a slightly different composition. There are a few other shots along the way with slightly varying composition. When the water is this good you can't help yourself.

I couldn't get over how blue the water was! Next will be all the other shots along the way. Stay tuned!




I'll be heading out on Saturday for a photoramble with my buddy Sean. He has a plan, saying something about sunrise over beaver ponds. We shall see. It's always fun no matter what we find.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Reflective riches 3

More from the Elbow River walk on Monday. It was such a perfect day for reflections I couldn't help myself and took lots of shots. There are still more coming, but I don't want to overwhelm you.





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Once again, the full moon

As my readers (a small but loyal group!) may remember I'm working on getting a shot of the full moon rising over downtown Calgary. Tuesday evening was another attempt.

For the non-photographers, a brief digression. Why is this so hard? I mean, full moon, there it is the sky, you can hardly miss it. Point camera, click, done.

Not so fast. Remember that our brain sees differently than a camera, but I don't propose to get into the complexities here. From a camera's perspective the full moon is really bright, and if it's high in the sky the background will be quite dark. When we look at the moon we can clearly see the lighter and darker areas that make up 'the man in the moon'. For a camera to pick that up requires getting the settings right, and there isn't a lot of choice about it, unlike a normally lit scene like a landscape. Then take into account it moves quickly, which limits the exposure time quite sharply. That makes the settings even harder. Now imagine trying to get the moon settings right, and some comparatively dark buildings on the horizon. Generally, unless the buildings are a really long way away, you can focus on the moon, or on the buildings, but not both. This is why many photographic artists composite a nice moon into a photo of the desired object.

I like to get set up early. Here's an ok skyline shot with nice warm colours against a somewhat murky sky. This is 150 mm focal length.

Two lovers waiting for the moon to be romantic, or something.

Tada! The full moon rising over a building, just not downtown like I wanted. It rose quite a bit further east than I expected. If you look at a good version of this photo, you would see the buildings are ever so slightly out of focus. The edges of the moon are rippled because of atmospheric distortion. The cool orange colour comes from the atmospheric haze.

Slightly different treatment of downtown gives an entirely different feel. This is about 213 mm focal length, so you see a little less from side to side.

Last shot of the night, with another lens at 70 mm, so you see quite a bit more. I like seeing downtown as a bright island lit up by the moon.

That last shot illustrates what happens when you shoot a full moon at the incorrect settings for the moon. You get a bright white spot.

Stay tuned for more reflection shots tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Reflective riches 2

Here's some more from the photo walk with Amy. I'm not even trying to put these in order. We couldn't get over how still the water was, and I was losing my mind over the blues!






Monday, October 22, 2018

Reflective riches

Wow! My buddy Amy and had arranged a tentative photo ramble date months ago for about now, and when we saw the great weather here we firmed it up for today. Even though we are past the best fall colour here, we hoped to get some nice shots exploring Elbow Island. Neither of us had ever been.

We seem to have good planning at meeting up and so it was today. A short drive later and the reflective riches started. There was no wind, so the river was completely calm, and that more than made up for some missing colour. I've never seen the river so blue, and that's not me tweaking the colour in Lightroom.

This reminds me of a small town scene in Southern Ontario, with the mill just out of sight. A bit of red in the leaves and you'd never know. 1763

Look carefully. Did I get a long exposure shot of a starry night sky? 1769

The underwater landscape was like I've never seen it before. 1794

Even the city can be pretty. 1797

Stay tuned, lots more coming.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The garden today, not drab, plus a bee!

It's been lovely here the last few days. The sort of weather one expects for a Calgary second summer. I was out with the camera looking for shots in the garden, enjoying the peace and quiet of it, as opposed to the Halloween shoot I did last night. Kids + candy = lots of noise. My major learning there is that f2.8 isn't fast enough for a dim room.

I was surprised to still find colour in the garden today. Those are some tough plants! The last pansy, not the same one as photographed last week.

This is a cut leaf elderberry that Linda planted this year. Amazing how glossy black can be.

Icelandic poppies. Normally I don't pay a lot of attention to them, but they were just glowing today.

This astonished me. A bee! Somewhere I envision a boss bee with a clipboard, telling the bees to get off their sleepy butts and go out to see if there's any nectar to be had. This bee found just about the only possibilities.

The dread Alberta rose.

I didn't see the ant when I was shooting. Maybe the ants have a clipboard wielding boss as well.