Saturday, February 25, 2017

Different Strokes...

If I'm so popular...

Why ain't I rich? LOL. I looked at my blog stats and discovered that I have exceeded 100,000 pageviews over time and more interesting, that I had almost 10,000 views in December, over 7000 in January. And about 3000 for half of February. Unfortunately, Blogger won't let me access details about anything older than a month, so I don't know why. Must have been doing something right!

I've also had over 22,000 hits on my technical blog. Almost all of it is on the article I wrote explaining about how you can't print a typical 2x3 shaped image on an 8x10 or square sheet without cropping or white space; and trying to demystify the old "you need to specify 300dpi" myth. I often see people on Facebook, especially in the Photoshop and Lightroom group, struggling with this concept. Here's the link: tell me what you think. And look for me on Facebook, search for "Faczen".

This is not a commercial blog. It's not 'monetized' although I do get some referral fees, especially from Topaz Labs (if people use the link here or on the right side Did you know that if you put "faczen" in the discount field at checkout, Topaz will give you a 15% discount?). I don't want to make it commercial, don't expect to get paid for people's visits, although it's nice. I promise to keep it that way but I encourage you to use my links and especially to subscribe (by clicking here or on the "Newsletter" icon at the top). No spam will come your way, I'll just give a heads-up when a new post has gone up. I also give my subscribed readers free access to my eBooks and I usually put a unique picture in the announcement emails which I haven't published elsewhere. So please click it: it makes me feel good to know that a number of people read my blog.

So go ahead. Click that "Newsletter" icon. You know you want to. I dare you...

New blog header

I replaced the blog header picture today. Here's the old one for the archive

By the way I created the new version of the header on the Mac... it doesn't have the same font selection as the PC did. That's annoying! But I guess I didn't choose too badly.

Gales of November 2017
(October 26-29. We can't wait!)

Exciting announcement re Gales of November 2017: Ben Eby is going to join us this year and bring along his phenomenal skill set making outstanding images. Ben is a photorealistic guy, I'm an impressionist, so whichever world you're in... I posted a few of his recent shots in my last blog post (scroll down) but you can see his work on his website at

If you want to attend Gales, you need to get going. As I write this there are still 5 spaces but I know what's going to happen, everyone's going to decide at once and some people aren't going to get in. At the risk of restating what you probably already know, Gales is an opportunity to get together with about a dozen other photographers in one of the most scenic areas in Ontario, in a resort with deluxe accommodations, service and food, all for less cost than a weekend on your own elsewhere. Yes, you have to get there, but even the drive up is worth it: I spent 2 days last year covering the 200 km from the Soo and got outstanding pictures.

I took this on the drive up, somewhere along Hwy 69 near Magnetawan

This was on the way back, on Hwy 17 north of Batchewana Bay. I could tell you exactly where! 

Click here to go to for more information and to reserve your space. A deposit only is required at this time. Do it. You know you want to!

The Mac odyssey

Well it's not painless, switching from PC to Mac. I'm constantly finding stuff that I know how to do instantly on the PC but have to figure out on the Mac. For instance, special characters! The copyright symbol (©), for instance, is alt-0169 on the numeric keypad on the PC. On the Mac, it's option-G. The degree symbol (°) is alt-0176 on the PC and either it's option-K (a little one) or shift-option-8 on the Mac. How am I going to remember that? And some of them don't work in Photoshop...

I managed to find StarStaX for the Mac. That's good. But my favourite pano merge program – Microsoft Research's ICE – is not available unless I get Parallels (and then I have to buy another Windows copy). The good news is that the computers network really well, so I can work on both platforms.

It's annoying what happens when I disconnect the external monitor and turn on LR or PS. Actually, that works OK, the program just goes to the laptop screen. But it's getting them back on the big screen when you plug it back in! I shouldn't complain, it's worse on the PC. And when I plugged it into a projector, it was magic!

Enough whining! I used to be jealous when I watched an online tutorial or live feed when the presenter did something in LR or PS and it happened right away! The Mac does that. And I can actually edit on that 15" Retina screen. And I FaceTimed with my grandkids in New York. I know, I know... "what took you so long to switch?"


I want to go to Newfoundland for a month or so this summer. I think a number of my blog subscribers and readers have some ties to the Rock so I thought I'd post this here. I'd like to rent a small house or something in a picturesque area (I'm a Bay Boy, not a Townie). If anyone knows of one or has a suggestion whom to contact, please let me know.

I am in touch with one person right now but I'm waiting for a response. In case that doesn't work out, it would be great to have some options.

Price is a factor; so is accessibility and I really need internet access...

Please email me directly at

PS: if anyone is interested in coming along, for perhaps part of the time, get in touch.

Pond Hockey

I realized that I haven't posted any pond hockey pictures here, since the event last month. A couple of reasons: this is the third year that I've shot that event and, well, I didn't get any really exciting pictures that turned my crank. Well, except maybe this one:

Yep, I took a hockey puck right between the eyes. I was lucky: an inch left or right, right in the eye. An inch lower, broken nose. Two inches lower: an expensive dentist bill. 

I did end up with two beautiful black eyes. Some say it's an improvement... 

Iconic picture of Pond Hockey action.  How much more Canadian can you get? Outdoors, in the snow, on less-than-perfect ice, amateur players showing some skill, a few brave spectators not afraid of getting hit with a puck... 

Lacing up, out in the snow 

Pond Hockey uses these low nets which is great if you don't lift the puck (see my selfies above!) 

Some people like to be seen 

Creative costumes? Not what you think... 

Turns out that the habit-clad team was called "Team Fireball". Here they're administering Holy Water to a needy player... rumour has it that the formula for Holy Water has something to do with "Fireball" and "Red Bull"... just a rumour, mind you. 

Here they are in a losing effort against the "Things", despite some righteous hooking... Thing 1 is my friend Cheryl Smith who claims not to be a hockey player but was easily among the best skaters out there!  

Beautiful smiles from people having fun! I wonder what was in that odd-looking container of 'holy water'? 

What it's all about! 

Different Strokes...

Have a look at these two pictures:

Two different days but similar subjects, same location, about the same time of day, completely different treatments. Which do you prefer?

In the first one, I was going for the pastels of the sunset colours and I used a soft expressionist treatment that married the textures of the sky and the overall feeling of the image. It would probably look great as a large scale print or canvas hanging over a light coloured couch in a bright, airy living room.

The second image is gritty. I deliberately used a small aperture to get the sunburst effect, and a high contrast HDR treatment to focus on the details and textures. If I were going to hang this image it would be in a pine paneled country setting, on a glossy or metallic medium, surrounded by a rough-hewn frame.

One of these got a ton of Facebook likes. Which one, do you think?

One day earlier, just up the lake. A lot of work went into this one, two different post-processing techniques on the sky and the foreground (it's one picture, mind you). The sky is about colour, the foreground about texture, although I wanted to give them some common ground, not have it look like it was artificially constructed.  
Now which one?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thou Hypocrite


Do you want some cheese with that whine?

I get criticized a lot for the amount of post-processing that goes into my images. This might be construed as defensive justification, but I'm slowly coming to grips with why. It has to do with accepting my limitations.

I have friends who travel to exotic places and take pictures of awesome things. Penguins and Polar Bears and tracking moose and rare birds, come to mind. Or street photography in New Orleans, the Milky Way from remote hike-in locations in Arizona and Nepal, seascapes from the seat of a kayak, waterfalls from Iceland and the Northern Lights from Alaska.

I'm 70 now. I can't do that stuff (any more). I put "any more" in brackets because I never really did... I'm not a great physical specimen and I never really was. I've gotten old, and very lazy.

As recently as a year or two ago, if I read that the KP was high and there's a likelihood of aurora, or the sky is crisply clear and the stars shine like beacons, I'd be out the door. Admittedly by car, to where I don't have to walk much but I'd go out. Now? I'm chilled. Tired. Achy. I'll just throw another log on the fire and settle down in front of the computer and enjoy editing some pictures. Maybe just because it's February and it hasn't stopped snowing every day for seemingly weeks.

So when I get invited on a photo shoot, my first thought is, "how physically demanding is it"? I have two or three in mind for this year. NOT going is admitting defeat so I'm determined to do at least one. But I have to be careful.

"Thou hypocrite"

On a related topic... baiting animals and birds. I'll tell you how this ties in at the end. There are many arguments against the practice and only a couple of cogent ones in favour. The idea that feeding wildlife will reduce the number of starvation-related deaths in our harsh winter environment seems to me to be contrived. I know people who feed deer and wild turkeys and ducks, and everyone I know has bird feeders hanging. Is that OK?

Why are they here? Why aren't they soaking up the sun on a beach in Miami 

Deer at the landfill. Are they eating our garbage? 

At the landfill. They certainly seem to be healthy and well-fed but is it right? 

We have bears that live in proximity to our landfills (garbage dumps). And crows and turkey vultures and gulls, they all live on our waste. Even herds of deer. I'm not proposing a solution to that issue, if it really needs a solution. I will say that the bald eagle population around here is surging, because the ducks that people are feeding provide easy meals for them, even winter long (remember when ducks and geese flew south for the winter? They are called "migratory birds". Lots of them hang out here all winter, wherever there's open water). That's not really a bad thing, is it? We have a new ecological balance.

Juvenile Bald Eagle returning to his roost overlooking a landfill site. 

But all that stuff is not what I'm leading up to. Foxes and pine martens and snowy owls. That's what I want to address.

In Algonquin Park, there is a family of foxes headed by the old patriarch that many people know as "Papa". You'll know him by the pink markings on his nose. He is so tame that he will walk along beside you like a dog. People feed him constantly and he's smart enough to pose for the cameras and put on a show for the herds of photographers who come to take his picture.

I love photographing him too. I've even printed pictures, tote bags, iPhone covers, etc with Papa's picture. We should really be asking him to sign a model release.  

Papa was waiting for us on a snowbank last time we visited. He knew we were going to have to turn the car around at that point because the road was impassable.  

I don't think he's forgotten how to hunt. But you have to wonder about his kits and his vixen who might have a harder time surviving without human handouts. By the way I'm not disclosing where to find him, although too many people know and it's hard to keep a secret with that many in the know. Is it right to bait him and his ilk, to pose for your pictures?

Yes, that's my car. No, that's not me. 

Pine Martens. Again, I'm not going to say where they hang out, but they live on our waste. And I've heard stories of people who spread cat food on photogenic tree branches to bring them out to pose for the cameras.

Is Algonquin Park just a big zoo without fences?

At the big bird feeder behind the Algonquin visitor's centre. Just some random shots, there were literally hundreds of birds there, from chickadees and blue jays to evening grosbeaks and American goldfinch. 

So is it OK to feed birds but not animals?

Now here's what triggered this essay. Yesterday, Larry and Ron and I trekked out in the aftermath of a huge snow event, in high winds and freezing temperatures, in search of Snowy owls. Again I'm not going to share where. We found some.

Female snowy owl surveying her realm from atop a hydro pole. 

We couldn't get close (except the one on the pole) but these people did:

They were on a guided workshop to shoot (pictures!) Snowy's and they got that close because the workshop leader brought live mice with him to bait the owls. 

Understand, I am NOT sitting in judgement. Nutritionally, the bait is actually good for the owls. Are the owls inured to human presence? You betcha. Do they hang out in those locations because they know they're going to get fed? Sure. Does that hurt their hunting ability? I doubt it. Come spring, these birds are going to migrate back to the far North where they'll subsist on voles and other small game. Just the fact that they come back year after year is proof that their survival is not affected.

Here's about the best I was able to do. But this was shot with a 600mm lens, then cropped, from a few hundred meters away. Ron probably did better with his superior lens but neither one of us would have been able to get our shots without the guy baiting the bird with mice. In fact, would the birds have been there at all? I've shot snowy's in the past in spots where they have not been baited, but not as easily as here.

Do people who judge this controversial practice do so out of jealousy? (it's not illegal, by the way) Or is there some effect on the birds that I have missed? Am I envious? Well I can't afford the workshop prices and somehow having pictures taken this way seem somewhat tainted. As do raptor images taken at the Raptor Conservancy or other guided sanctuary. How much more proud am I of this image of a Ruffed Grouse taken in Algonquin Park in its natural habitat?

Now here's the tie-in I promised you. I don't have the physical ability or stamina to go into the wild and seek out photos of wildlife in their true natural habitat. Or the wherewithal to afford catered first-class expeditions. As much as I want to, I'm not going to Africa any time soon, or in search of Grizzly bears in Alaska or Polar bears in the far North or Penguins in the Antarctic (although it's entirely possible I might be able to return to Newfoundland and shoot Gannets and Puffins and maybe whales and icebergs).

Northern Gannet colony at Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland 

Atlantic Puffins near Elliston, NF 

So if I'm going to get pictures of wildlife, it's going to be along the Highway 60 corridor in Algonquin or in Carden Plain or at other accessible spots. My view is that if it doesn't hurt the animal or cause long term harm to the species, there's nothing wrong with it. What's your view?

Beef with Micro$oft

I bought Office 365 for Mac because I'm used to Outlook as my email client, ditto Word and Excel and PowerPoint. I'm willing to give the Apple products a shot, but since I have a toe in both worlds, my documents have to work cross-platform.

So after installing it and cleaning all my stuff up, I decided not to bring the email archive over, just use the Mac as a backup and when traveling. After some struggles, I managed to copy my address book over, and my calendar (hint: it won't automatically go in the right places in 365. You have to copy them over then drag them into the built-in contacts and calendars). After all of that was done, I plugged in the iPhone, I had already configured iTunes to sync everything, and started it going.

Guess what? No contacts, no calendar. After some research, I discovered Microsoft Office 365 for Mac does not support syncing with the iPhone. You have to buy the upgraded industrial version for that to work and install an exchange server.

Nowhere on the Micro$oft site does it say that. Useless.

So I re-associated the iPhone with the PC laptop. All good except when I'm traveling: I'm going to have to figure out a workaround. 

That's the second time MS has done it to me. Last time involved upgrading XP to Win7: because I had a professional version of XP and wanted Win7 home, the upgrade I bought didn't work. After fruitless hours and a long conversation with their support, I was told, "there is no upgrade path for that". Fortunately I had bought the software at Costco and they took it back without any questions.

Microsoft is a pain in the royal ass. You can bet my next desktop will be a Mac, when and if I have to do it.

Ben Eby's Pictures

I met Ben Eby back in 2010 up at the Gales of November workshop in Wawa on Lake Superior. We've met and shot together a few times since then. 

You know that I run the Gales of November workshop as facilitator now, right? As I write this, we have only 5 spaces left and there are people on the fence about signing up, so if you're interested, stop procrastinating! A weekend at a first class facility in an outstanding scenic area at a price that you can't beat. Check out

I remember remarking on how sharp and clear Ben's images were, right from day 1. And his photographer's eye, grasp of lighting and composition were also remarkable. Ben took some images at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre that impressed me so much, I asked him if I could post some here. Without further ado...

Barn Owl 

Great Horned Owl 

Peregrine Falcon 

Ben has traveled extensively (he's just come back from the Antarctic) and he runs workshops here and abroad. If you're as impressed with his images as I am, check out his gallery and site at Click on "Events" to see what he's got coming up.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Are you Unconsciously Competent?


Where are you at?

I came across something today that brings back my old days in management. I haven't thought about it for years and not until just now in connection with my photography. It bears repeating.
The Hierarchy of Competence
(graphic © faczen)

Whenever you learn a new skill you follow this path (quoted from Wikipedia):

  1. Unconscious incompetence
    The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
  2. Conscious incompetence
    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
  3. Conscious competence
    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
  4. Unconscious competence
    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

This applies to all kinds of skills. Business and work skills, life skills, personal relationships.
When I think about it, I wonder if I've ever really reached a pure stage 4 in any discipline. I'm pretty close to it but I still have to consciously think about it sometimes. I'm often at that level shooting landscape and travel photography, or post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop. Many years ago I also used to be at that level playing racquetball and pistol shooting. Maybe writing. Before that, in mathematics and theoretical physics. Maybe not the last one, because those aren't right-brained activities.
I've never broken level 3 skiing and motorcycling, except on rare occasions. My computer skills are there too. I've never exceeded level 1 or 2 when I'm painting or drawing or playing keyboard or guitar.
So why do I think this is important? Knowing where I am is essential before I know where I want to be and what I'm capable of reaching. For instance, I admit that I will never be a competent musician. It makes me think about where I should expend my energy. What's important to me and what I can logically accomplish in the time I have left. Eye opening.

So where are you? What do you do well? What do you want to do well? What do you have fun doing but you'll never be good at it?

If you want to learn more about it, Google is your friend...

If you haven't gone yet...

You have until February 12th to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario's "Mystical Landscapes" exhibit. Go.

I'm not a museum person. And as my friends know, I abhor cities and it's a stretch for me to venture "south of the 401". But I really wanted to see this exhibit. It featured original paintings by Monet, Georgia O'Keeffe, van Gogh, Gaugin, Edvard Munch and even Fred Varley!

I'm trying to be brief here, but I can't. I have to explain that I had the same appreciation that I did when I went to Kleinburg and saw the Ansel Adams exhibit. Or looked at the Group of Seven originals. Speaking of the Group of Seven, the AGO has a Huge exhibit. In fact the whole place is Huge (no, my real name isn't Donald). I spent 3 hours there. I wish I had 3 days. By the way, the lighting and the presentation was exquisite. Sometimes you'd look at a painting and say, "that positively GLOWS!".

I was going to buy the catalogue book at the shop at the exit. I didn't. I should have, because I would have liked to read some of the analysis and history behind the paintings but I didn't because looking at paintings in a book and seeing the real thing are completely different things. When I look at a painting and see how the artist varied the brush strokes and chose the colours, it gives me an appreciation for why the artist made those choices. Looking at a printed picture (or even a full-size art print), you don't get that. You can appreciate the compositional choices, maybe get a feel for the overall tone, but not the blood and sweat that went into the making of the painting.
Two interesting side thoughts. When I was there (mid-week, afternoon) it wasn't busy but there were still many people there. I overheard conversations that I didn't understand at all ("see the expression of loneliness in this image? It's a result of the shape of that curve on the left and the way he toned the colours of the sky into the water...", or "Lismer should have known better. He should have used the darker cadmium yellow at the top and blended it into the pale colour at the bottom. What was he thinking?") LOL. I have no clue. 
But the second thought was this: I think part of the reason I appreciate looking at the originals vs. prints is that the detail appeals to my left brain. The more I think about it, the more I realize how I haven't really left that behind. I know I shouldn't, but I'm thinking about the mechanics of making this art and not the concepts and expressions. I have a long way to go. Besides, the artist him/herself is virtually standing there right beside you looking at how much you appreciate their picture. There's this 'aura'.
I've never appreciated the works of Lawren Harris or Arthur Lismer or Emily Carr until now. I liked Tom Thomson, A.Y. Jackson, Kreighoff is not my style, but seeing their work in real life... damn, I wish I were younger and could spend more time studying these masters.

Refer back to my "Unconscious Competence" article at the top. I can't paint or draw. But I sure am going to keep trying because I really want to. Harvey, I'll be back.

So GO. Even if you miss this exhibit, the AGO is a phenomenal place. So is the McMichael in Kleinburg. Make the time.

another peeve... people misusing words. I frequently read "I love bokeh", when they mean "I love how the photographer used a shallow depth of field so that there are out of focus points in the image".

Folks, bokeh means the way a lens renders out-of-focus points of light. You can't "love bokeh". You can say, "I love how the bokeh looks in this picture...". There's good bokeh and there's bad bokeh. Good bokeh is an even, fuzzy circle. Bad bokeh can look like a donut. Generally speaking, the quality of the bokeh is directly related to how much you spent on the lens!

Like saying, "it was so fun" (it was so MUCH fun. Fun is a noun. It can be used as an adjective but not a predicate adjective, it needs to be modified!). I guess it's something being added to the vernacular. Can you use "Photoshop" as a verb? Or "Google"? "Let me Google that for you!"

I've gone to the Dark Side.

My laptop died. OK, not strictly true, the video card or something in the computer died. Here's what the screen looks like:

Yeah, that dark band in the middle shouldn't be there. And the colour balancing is gone.

My desktop has been exhibiting signs of failure for a long time. I was going to replace it but that would leave me without a functioning laptop. So I decided to use the laptop as a desktop (an external monitor plugged into it works fine) and buy a new laptop. I bit the bullet and got a Mac.

So my new laptop is a 2014 MacBook Pro 15" Retina with a 2.8 GHz i7 quad processor turbo boosted to 3.7 GHz, 16Gb of RAM, 1 Tb SSD and a Nvidia GT750 video card with 2Gb of VRAM. It's screaming fast and will run anything I can throw at it. This computer will be my dedicated Photoshop and Lightroom machine, with an attached 27" monitor, external keyboard, Wacom tablet and external hard drives. 

It fits nicely on the roll-top desk I inherited. The external drives are safe in the cubby holes. Cables aren't run properly yet, there's a way to snake them through the desk. The editing setup will sit on a large pine table off camera right. I'm just waiting for a USB hub that should arrive on Monday to hook everything up. 

The new 2016 MacBooks are one step better but they're at least $1000 more and they come without any directly usable ports! There are two 'USB-C' ports and you're supposed to buy dongles to connect stuff, adding even more cost and complexity (there's a hysterically funny video on YouTube, here). And your apps show up on a touchbar above the keyboard instead of docked at the bottom of the screen. So if you use it with external monitor and keyboard, now what?


I can't do a blog post without pictures, right? I haven't shot much, because I've been trying to configure the new computer. I did head out to try to shoot the Pond Hockey Championships this afternoon: who's ever heard of a two-day event that was on Friday/Saturday and not Sunday? So I headed over to the ice races in Minden. Here are a few images, edited on the new Mac (but without the big monitor. I have to admit that Retina screen is awesome!)

I like shooting the start of a race with a long lens straight downrange from the starting line. They're all lined up in two neat rows then it's as if you had a cockroach infestation and suddenly turned on the lights! They all spread out, jostling for position. I had been approached by the driver of #185 before the race: she told me that her husband was driving car #128 and they were one and two on the starting grid and hoped I would get a picture of them together. I'm not sure but I think #128 won the race in the end. 

The spinning tires of the cars on the ice throw up a mist of ice particles, so it's hard to see any cars other than the leaders. It's also hard for the drivers to see, so windshield wipers are constantly going and every car has a bright light in its rear window. In this case, the cars are shod with rubber only – no studded tires.

The "DeHaze Filter" tool in Lightroom CC is MADE for this. Other than tweaking the black levels (the DeHaze filter fills in the blacks too much), that's the only difference between these two pictures. 

Drivers swap tires before each heat. Sometimes they're allowed to use studs, sometimes just rubber. In previous years they were allowed 'racing studs' in certain races but they rip up the track too badly, so they've been banned now. In the past, a weekend of racing would eat through a foot of ice surface. With this year's mild weather, I doubt there was much more than half that thickness on the track. 

One lap in, the cars are starting to spread out. See the ice fog I'm talking about? 

#128 is starting to build a lead, but #117 is still right there with him off camera at the left. 

In Ice Racing, cars get into and out of all kinds of crazy positions as they spin, slide and drift around the corners. The 'rubber only' races seem a bit sedate, but heats with studded tires have cars screaming into corners at over 100 kph! You can tell which cars have been at this for a while — they're all beat up! 

And sometimes they don't make it! Here car #11 drove halfway up the embankment in turn 8 just before the start/finish straight. If a car gets stuck, the driver stays in the vehicle until the end of the race. A caution flag goes up for that corner but the racers are free to do their thing after they clear the obstacle. 

Ice racing happens every Saturday and Sunday in Minden in the winter. It can be cold, so dress warmly! It's free for spectators and if you make friends with the drivers, you may even get to ride in the passenger seat of a race car during a race (you have to have a DOT/SNELL approved helmet. My motorcycle helmet isn't SNELL approved so I've never managed to get a ridealong).

As I said, I haven't shot a lot of pictures this week, with a trip to Toronto to go to the AGO and pick up my new computer, a day at the dentist (Dr. Ron's back from Antarctica. Let's see if I can get him to give me a sample picture to use in an upcoming post). Then all that 'chair' time getting the computer set up. I have to give it a name, by the way. My old laptop was called "LilGuy" but I'd like to find a more creative name for this one. Suggestions? Hit me with them in the comments!

It's been too warm to shoot freezing soap bubbles. It snowed a little bit but the snowflakes weren't too photogenic. Most of them were just featureless little spots or clumps, but occasionally you could find one that showed its unique crystal structure. 

I messed with this one using Topaz Glow and Star Effects. I didn't get the real crisp focus I was looking for but as long as it keeps snowing, I'll keep trying! 

OK, I lied. Well not really... I woke up this morning to -16°C and thought, "Hmmm. Soap bubbles." They're pretty easy although getting one to survive anywhere except on the tie wrap has eluded me so far.  Watching the crystals grow inside is cool!

Unprocessed. Not even cropped, except I added a touch of DeHaze to bring up the blacks and contrast. 

And here's the same shot with a touch of Topaz Glow and Star Effects! A 5 minute edit. 

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