Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I refuse to stay indoors!

In a sketching mood...

I took this picture of the Red Umbrella Inn across the road on a grey, very cold day. In fact I took several, sitting in my car just in front of my driveway, and merged them to a high resolution pano.

I had the 70-200 on the camera and was too cold to get out and put on the wide angle. So it's a 140 megapixel merged pano. 

I shot it because I had a sketch in mind. In fact, a pencil sketch, not a digital sketch, and I wanted a source photo. However I did play with it in Topaz and came up with this digital version:

Again, the purpose was to use it to do a pencil sketch. 

Without further ado, here's the actual pencil sketch I did. HB Graphite pencil on Strathmore fine-tooth sketch paper.

Then I opened this pencil sketch in Photoshop and Topaz and did a little fine tuning. Here's what I ended up with:


On the cusp. I need to decide soon. Talk to me...

(also the house for sale thing. Procrastinating).

Algonquin Park

The weather forecast for the week is lousy but Sunday looked OK so I headed up to the Park. Never disappointed! My big problem is choosing which images to post here but hey this is a digital world, so I have a bunch! I'll split them up...

Shooting right into the sun at Lake of Two Rivers. Some HDR and Topaz manipulation to give it the effect I wanted 

Ice Cascades

This is an edit of the picture above it. I wonder what caused the break between the stalagtites and the stalagmites. 

This ice cave is on the north side of highway 60 near LOTR. What looks like another cavern is actually a big ball of ice! It was treacherous climbing in there: wear good boots, cleats if you have them, and be prepared to wade through deep snow.

(or as Ron would call them, "chickens")

Red-breasted nuthatch hoping for peanuts. On the Spruce Bog trail

Immature male pine grosbeak.. These next shots are all at the Visitor's Centre

Female Pine Grosbeak 

Mature Male pine grosbeak 

Common Redpoll. He refused to turn around! 


A lot of people think Pine Martens are cute, cuddly creatures. They are NOT. One of my Facebook friends calls them "adorable assassins". They may look cute... this day I managed to capture images of one in a pissy mood. They have teeth that don't fool around.

These were all shot at Mew Lake, but I saw them in 2 other locations that day as well. These pictures came out best.

I shot all of the bird and critter pictures with my D800 and Nikon 200-400 f/4, handheld or leaning on a railing (my arms and shoulders are still tired!). They came out sharp and beautiful, I thought, until I ran them through Topaz Labs AI-Clear. What a difference! You would think I shot with a $10,000 lens (Oh, wait... look up the Nikon 200-400!).

AI-Clear is an adjustment in Topaz Studio. You can use a preset version of it for free, or you can download the 'Pro' version, that's currently under $100. Or you can trial the Pro version for 30 days for free. It is absolutely worth it. 

There's a Topaz Labs icon in the right panel of this blog. If you use that link, and you read what to put in the coupon field below the icon, you'll get another 15% discount. I could tell you what it says, but what would the fun be in that?  Go see for yourself!

Until next time!

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Friday, February 01, 2019

OK, it's c-c-c-cold!

How much do we take things for granted?

Last night, I went to brush my teeth before going to bed and wondered why the water trickled instead of flowing from the tap. I know that the pressure is down when I flush the toilet, but this was next to nothing. Without going into a lot of detail, a few minutes later, it stopped completely.

It was frigid out. (OK, a little detail, that's what writers do. They paint pictures with words).
How cold was it?

It was so cold, you could see your breath with your eyes closed. If you blinked, there was a chance they'd freeze that way and you wouldn't be able to open them. Your nose would run but it would freeze in your beard, unless you were a woman in which case, I don't know what happens because I've never seen a woman with snot on her face. Except on TV when she's just finished a downhill ski race (how come figure skaters' noses don't run? Would the Russian Judge take off points for snot?). If you take off your hat it's hard to put it back on again because your hair has frozen in spikes in the few hatless minutes. Unless you're bald, in which case you look a lot like a snow cone.

It was so cold that they delayed the start of the dogsled races because the Siberian Huskies were getting frostbitten feet. Once they did get it started and you were shooting pictures, your lens was hard to zoom because the lubricant in it wasn't, well, lubricating. After a while, you couldn't focus because the focus ring on your $2500 lens was frozen solid. Besides, your breath had iced up both the viewfinder and the LCD on the back of the camera and you couldn't see anyway.

It was so cold that you couldn't feel your toes anymore, even though they were encased in heavy wool socks inside thickly insulated snowmobile boots. When you walked across the snow field, the snow squeaked in protest. You could carry your heavy camera gear across the field without feeling any pain because, well, everything was numb, except your fingertips which ached and the tip of your nose which had been touching the back of the camera and it still hurts a day later.

If you're a numbers person, the air temperature was only around -25°C which is just about -13° in Fahrenheit, which isn't so bad, we've all grown up in colder... those of us in Canada and the True North, that is. But it was windy. So the broadcast meteorologists, guys in suits or blond women with ample chests and low cut tops. who stand in front of their green screens and point to invisible cold fronts and low pressure areas and the jetstream, who have made up this measurement called "wind chill" say, "it's -25° but it feels like -40° windchill.
As an aside, I read this morning that the windchill temperature atop Mount Washington was -114°F or -81°C this morning. So I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that cold here. And I remember skiing at Stowe, VT when it was actually -40° (C or F, take your pick) and they gave us 4 or 5 woolen ponchos to ride up on the chair lift. And night skiing in the Laurentians at Mont Habitant at 40 below. But I was so young. In my teens or in my 20's. Now I'm 72 and SO much wiser. And so more brittle.
 I've lived in Canada my whole life. Not like those wimps in Vancouver, who go sailing in the morning then skiing in the afternoon in shorts and a windbreaker. Or in Toronto where they call in the army at the hint of a snowstorm and where traffic grinds to a halt because half the population doesn't believe you need snow tires to get up those little hills but you do. No, in Montreal. Where as kids we used to dig tunnels and forts in the 10' high snowbanks created by the snowplows, and our parents warned us to watch out for the snowblowers which would suck them up and spit them out into caravans of dump trucks. We used to play broomball in our late teens or early 20s on outdoor hockey rinks (I wasn't a skater) and you'd play a 5 minute shift then go cough your lungs out from the condensation freezing as you breathe (and because like every other idiot in the day, you used to smoke a large pack of DuMaurier a day). Further north. I've been at the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg in winter. I was once on a bus from the Edmonton airport to downtown in an 'ice fog' which is caused by water particles in the air freezing into an opaque cloud.

Yes, I know, other people have been in colder places. But I've lived up here in the Highlands for over 10 years now and never once did my water freeze up. My sump pump line, yes, but not my water lines.

Back to the point of my story. We're spoiled. Yes, I've been winter camping (once. I'm dumb, not stupid!). Yes I've had to carry water up from the stream for cooking and washing. But never at home! Do you know how much you rely on having water? I brought in half a dozen pots full of snow to melt so that I could flush the toilet when I have to ("if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down". Gross. But true!) I filled up water jugs at my neighbour's for drinking and cooking and brushing my teeth. Shower? Uh-uh.

So here I am in mid-whine. Then I thought about my ancestors who NEVER had running water. And I thought about a large portion of the world's population who don't have access to water, especially clean water. And I thought, I really am a privileged asshole. Spoiled by the luxuries of the modern world. What would it be like if I'd been born 100 years earlier? Or 200 or 300 years? What would it have been like having to do everything physically, manually? Could I have survived?

Now if I run out of cashmere soft 3-ply toilet paper, I can sit at the computer and access the Amazon site, place an order online and two days later get a shipment from the FedEx guy and the hardest thing I have to do is open the box. Or if I do go to the grocery store, I get in my car and turn the key and the most exercise I get is pushing on the gas pedal and carrying in the bags of groceries. Including fresh vegetables that come from Mexico or Peru or even Israel or Morocco, in the middle of winter.

If I'm that spoiled, what about my children? What's it going to be like for my grandkids? We exercise by running or lifting weights or stretching our muscles when  we don't have to: what are they going to do? Or maybe they won't have to, they'll be so reliant on chemicals and medications and nanobots and machines that will keep them alive while they sleep. Or will they sleep?

Does anybody care? Or is it not important, is it evolution? But I weep.


For those who don't appreciate the difference, perhaps this example will help.

Yesterday I shot this dark brown dog on a white snowy background in bright sunlight. I set the camera to save a RAW image (Nikon NEF) on one card and a JPEG Fine on the other card (shooting a D800, 70-200 f/2.8 — 1/640 sec at f/8, ISO 250, matrix metering with +1.3ev exposure compensation). To get a good exposure on the dog, clearly the snow was going to have to be too bright.

After doing the best I could do in Lightroom with the two images, here's what I got. If nothing else, look at the ability to recover detail in the RAW image, in areas like the snowbank which are completely blown out in the JPEG.

I hope this helps some people understand the advantage of shooting in RAW.

The RAW file. Even though the back of the camera (which just shows a JPEG preview of the image) was blown out, detail was still there in the broader dynamic capture range of a RAW file. 

...and this of course is the JPEG. Once you've blown out the whites, nothing you do can bring the detail back. 

What prompted me to shoot this was because Topaz Labs had pre-announced their latest hot product, JPEG-to-RAW-AI which is a standalone product using AI learning to get the most out of a JPEG. i admit that it couldn't save this picture because the detail just didn't exist in the blown out JPEG. You can't recover what's not there.

I've tried the product. It works, on less extreme images. It's intended for when you shoot with your iPhone and capture an image you'd like to enhance and maybe print large. There's no cost involved in trying it: you can get a 30 day free trial to see if you like it. If you commit to buying it before February 8th, you get a 20% discount and there's a way to get 15% even more that I'm sharing with my blog subscribers (click "Newsletter" at upper right to be added to the list. If I see that you subscribed, I'll send you the code).

Topaz explains how it works and gives much better examples than I can. Here's the link, and you need to use this link for the discount:

Newfoundland Update

I'm still procrastinating. I need a push to get me to commit. A couple of people have tentatively put out feelers about joining me, at least for part of the trip, but nothing definite yet. "Speak Now, or..."

Picture time!

I haven't shot much for the past few weeks — it's been too damned cold to spend a lot of time out there.  But then again, it's been a while since I posted to the blog, so here's a bunch!

We did a session at the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club bursting balloons. Some shots were just balloons, others were with people bursting them with their hands. You can't keep a straight face when a balloon bursts in your hands!

With some added effects 

I know I wasn't nice to Hana! But I felt this shot needed a 'grunge' touch and also I composited broken glass into her glasses!

Next was the Dog Sled Races. It was soooo cold... my lens actually froze up and I couldn't focus. Here are a couple of shots anyway...

Last weekend was the first of two weekends of the Pond Hockey championships. It's a fun tournament but some of the play was serious. Again it was really cold so I didn't stay long, but I got this sequence:

The "Ice Team" did a great job and had fun doing it. Can't imagine how, it was soooo cold! 

As I said, some of the players got into it big time. I thought gloves were going to be dropped at some point. 

I thought this shot epitomized what the games were like. 

The less serious teams are playing this weekend. Much more fun photos, wait for it next time!

I shot frozen bubbles a few times. But you know me, I can't leave well enough alone and I love Topaz Studio!

Bubble world approaching the edge of the universe 

It was so cold that the bubble liquid froze before I could get it out of the wand! 

Parting Shot

Yesterday I could only stand about 10 minutes out in the cold, so I shot a few bubble pictures then retreated indoors to the warmth of my computer chair. I decided to composite a few images into one, so here they are:

BTS ("Behind the Scenes") shot of my setup. I used the BBQ as a windbreak and a dark background, added some extra light, and blew the bubble through a straw onto the upside down glass. 

I used these 3 pictures for the composite 
And here's the finished result:

See you next time! And don't forget to subscribe if you want the Topaz discount code!

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Wow. You must have a really great camera!

Happy 2019 to all my readers, their family and friends. 

If you want prosperity and success, I wish you that.
If you want recognition and a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer, that too.
But mostly I wish you health and happiness and love, because if you have those, nothing else matters.

You must have a really great camera

As some of you might know, I'm a moderator on the really fine and popular Facebook group, "Photoshop and Photography". The group has just passed 400,000 members and it takes the efforts of a crew of moderators and administrators to keep it a friendly and helpful place. There are some people who come out of the woodwork (especially on holidays: the admins call it "the squirrel cage" at those times), but for the most part, it's a positive learning experience. It is Social Media so there are some nutbars out there, you need to ignore them sometimes.

Search for "Photoshop and Photography" in Facebook and join. You'll meet some interesting people and see some awesome work; and generally someone in the group will have an answer to whatever question you may have.

But I'm writing this because one common question bugs me. "What kind of camera did you use for this shot? What lens?"

OK, sometimes the question might have meaning. Like, "how did you achieve such a shallow depth of field", or "when I shoot at such a high ISO I get much worse noise..." so they want to know if it's equipment based. But usually it has to do with the old saw, "that's a really great photo, you must have a wonderful camera!". "That's a really delicious dinner. You must have fantastic pots and pans!"

I know artists who could create meaningful paintings using dollar store paints, a stick they picked up off the ground and an old piece of wood. Or sketch with an old #2 pencil they scavenged from the back of a drawer, and a piece of typewriter paper. Just sayin'.

One comment I read there this week pointed out that all those photos that inspire you as a photographer — the ones with that incredible "wow" factor, the ones that make you wish you had taken them — were made with equipment FAR INFERIOR to whatever you're using today. The resolution on your iPhone is better than any digital camera from the last decade, maybe up to 2013 or 2014. It's not about the equipment.

You've heard it before: it's about what's in that space a couple of inches behind the viewfinder. It's about you and your vision. And you can work on that by taking more and more pictures, and looking at other people's work, and not giving up because you get better and better every day. Want proof? Go look at pictures you made 5 years ago. Are they as good as what you're doing today?

One thing that's hard to get past as a moderator (or as a teacher or a judge): approving (or critiquing or scoring) images that are REALLY bad. Obviously taken by a real novice, sometimes presented with pride, "my first attempt in Photoshop". But then you realize that we've all started somewhere! I'm reminded of when I proudly showed Rosa (a former girlfriend who was an artist) my first sketch, and she deflated me by saying, "yeah, like a kindergarten kid's first finger painting."

What inspires me?

 I'm not going to write the long answer to that one, but I'd like to point you in one particular direction.

Turn on your TV. Watch any movie or show, or especially, any commercial. I get that it isn't still photography, but hit Pause. Marvel at the fact that there's NEVER a poorly exposed or badly focused shot, or badly lit scene. Look at the composition. It's all perfect.

Pick up a magazine. Look at the ads. Ditto. Any one of those pictures would get a 10 out of 10 in your club competitions. Analyse them and ask yourself "why" or "how"?

The people who make these pictures are professionals. REAL professionals. Yes they have huge equipment budgets and assistants and studios and... but give one of them an iPhone and I'll bet they'll create fantastic images with it. Learn from these people. Learn by studying their work.

Bruce Peters.

The world lost a really good guy a few days ago. Regrettably, I didn't know Bruce really that well. Bruce was a member of the Mississauga club, he was up here on a workshop and we stayed in touch. He came back and we spent some time shooting together up here a while ago, he ended up staying here for a few days and I don't think a smile ever left his, or my face. He had recently lost his wife and he threw himself into his travel and his photography as a raison d'ĂȘtre.

I think he split his time between Mississauga and his property in Penetanguishene (or Port Severn?). He joined us up at the Gales of November workshop in 2017 and ended up willingly chauffeuring Karen Young and her broken leg around. He participated enthusiastically in all our activities.

He was probably one of the kindest, most generous people I've met and in talking with others of our mutual friends, that sentiment was echoed by all of us. That said, he was sometimes bull-headed and opinionated but that was Bruce. Everyone agrees on that one too, Hilarie said "the club will be very quiet without him".

Please excuse the really bad picture (I'm not good at people pictures, as everyone knows!)

Thinking about Newfoundland again

I floated a thought about going to the Territories this summer, but I think that's not going to happen. However you know how much I love Newfoundland... so here's what I'm thinking.

Mid June through end of July?

  • I've never been to the Northern Peninsula nor to Labrador. That's where the icebergs are.
  • I love the Twillingate area. Maybe more time on Fogo Island this time.
  • Bonavista/Elliston. Whales and puffins. Maybe meet up with a friend from overseas
  • St. John's, gateway to the Avalon peninsula, urban and other photooops, meet friends.
As on previous visits, stay in rental cottages for the most part.

So: anyone want to spend some time on the Rock? I can think of one or two already. I know enough now to do some informal guiding... and I have contact with people who are even more experienced at it. Contact me.

PS: in 5 visits to Newfoundland over the years, I've seen exactly two moose. Don't count on it! LOL

An Oldie but a Goodie

This image of mine came up in an online discussion a few days ago so I thought I'd post it here again. A lot of work went into this image: would you believe I shot it in bright mid-day sunshine? Somehow I managed to make it look like what I had visualized.

Parting Shot

Here's a composite image I worked on yesterday. It's from my Newfoundland trip last summer (mostly!). If I had to pick my favourite image from 2018, this would be right up there.

The star trails are about 140 images stacked in StarStaX. I wanted to remove some detail and make it look hand painted, so I used Topaz Impression. I THINK it was based on the Georgia O'Keeffe preset, applied more than once. The lighthouse is the one at Cape Spear, shot at dawn and extracted from the background. Again I used Topaz to enhance the light and smooth things... might have even been based on the same preset. There's some canvas background texture in there I'll have to remove when it gets printed. If you've been following me, you'd recognize that the girl was created on my Wacom Tablet from scratch, based on an image I shot at Peggy's Cove in 2017 and it was used in another image with a brilliant sunset (and a painting!), with the same title. 

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Get over it.

Is this a  "New Year's Resolution"?
No, it's more of an epiphany.

In the last couple of blogs I've been bitching about getting old. Aches and pains, lack of energy and motivation, growing contact list of doctors, awful sleep patterns, a GRANDSON in the Air Force, for God's sake. The list goes on.

Then I say, without meaning it, "consider the alternative".

OK, enough. I can't promise I'll be less curmudgeonly, but I'll try. Think positive.

Three things happened in the past few days that are pushing me on this track:

  1. The oncologist I saw last week said, when I commented on my age, "the patient I just saw before you is 91. Get over it."
  2. My aunt passed away this morning. She was 102. My mom was 95. My dad died young, at 89. Get over it.
  3. On a completely different note, I went to Algonquin Park on Wednesday. Because I can. Whenever I want to. In fact I can do anything I want. Whenever I want to.

I want to write. I want to make pictures, with the camera, the computer, a paint brush, charcoal and pencils. Time for the excuses to end. 
Get over it.

In a conversation with my cousin Howard today (it was his mother who passed on at 102) we looked backwards at our lives — we basically grew up together — and we realized how much stuff we've done over the years. If I created a character in my novel who had done, and mastered, all that stuff, nobody would believe it. I'm still going to give it a shot!

Topaz Labs sale

If you're reading this and it's not Boxing Day yet, you still have time to take advantage of the Topaz Labs year-end sale.

I'm committed to the Topaz products. Virtually every picture of mine that you see has had a whiff of Topaz. Whether it's painterly effects, textures,  noise reduction, extra clarity or sharpening, upsizing or simplifying, their products are superb.

I recently started using AI Clear and now I'm committed to it. It does such a good job of increasing the acuity of an image that a lot of the methods I've used in the past have been relegated to the shelf.

Is there a learning curve? Of course there is. Not that steep though, you can work your way through it.

If you're cost conscious, you want to take advantage of this sale before it's gone. If not, you owe it to yourself to try their products: you can do a full 30 day free trial on anything in their program.

Here's the link: https://topazlabs.com/ref/32/

Newfoundland Portfolio

I spent some time working on my Newfoundland pictures from last summer. I put a selection of them up online using Adobe Portfolio. All of the pictures in this group are large hi-res, so for the most part they'd be great printed!

So far, these are the best images. Click a picture for full-screen. Hover over it for the description.

Longliner approaching Gull Island, off Twillingate. 

Right now I'm recommending canvas wrap printing: I have a good, responsive and inexpensive supplier. You can get up to 40" width, you can hang them without framing, and I can do a large format print for about $100, delivered, including taxes. I can get regular prints too.

If you like any of the images, please communicate with me, tell me the title or description, and we'll go from there.

"The time had come, the warden said, to talk of many things..."
Of animals and ecology and climate change and the Park 
(sorry, Lewis Carroll).

Before I get into pictures from yesterday, I want to talk about some things I learned from a Park Warden named "David" with whom we chatted for a while.

PS: I got carried away, writing this: if it's too much for you, just look at the pictures.

OK, OK, here's a picture!

Male Pine Grosbeak. I learned from David that this is a second-year bird, not wearing full-colour plumage yet. 

David was a nice guy, despite the patches on his shoulders and gold badge on his chest. A bit crazy hanging out with us on the back deck of the Visitor’s Centre in a short sleeved shirt, everyone asking him from time to time, “aren’t you cold”? “I wouldn’t do this if it was 40 below, but it’s a nice day…”. Me, in a down jacket over a wool sweater over my thermal underwear… Knowledgeable guy, knows his birds, nature, the park. “I don’t think that’s a hoary redpoll, look at the shape of the bill. I think it might be just a light coloured common redpoll”.

The conversation turned to feeding and baiting, and where do you draw the line. Aren’t they really the same thing? You could tell that David was not comfortable at times. You had the impression he was expressing a personal opinion and being really careful not to contradict the Park’s official position. He made an interesting comment, that it’s not a digital divide, unethical baiting on one side, managed feeding on the other, "it’s a continuum", he said. 

At one point he grudgingly admitted that it wasn’t necessary to have the feeders at the centre, the birds would survive the winter anyway, or most of them would. The feeders were really there to cater to the visitors and yes, the photographers.

Of course we went to pine martens and foxes next. There was a couple we all  had run into up at the turnaround on Opeongo Road that day. When we (Amin and I) were there, they were holding a handful of bird seed or trail mix to hand feed the chickadees and Canada jays. But other people in the conversation said they saw this couple feeding cheese and meat to a pine marten there. One said he left without shooting any pictures because he couldn’t condone the behaviour. 

All of us have seen the deplorable setup at Mew Lake. The pine martens live in the garbage bins and through some sort of misguided logic, some people think there’s nothing wrong with spreading peanut butter or cat food on the tree branches in the hope of slowing down these fast-moving predators so they can get a picture. After all, they're eating garbage anyway. Last week I had to wait to get a shot when the animals weren’t busy licking the trees. Someone said they saw a visitor one day, nailing hot dogs to the tree. “Can’t something be done about this? Can’t you charge people”?

“When we get there”, David said, “people say the one who did this just left. We’re just taking pictures”. It is a chargeable offence, harassing wildlife, but hard to enforce. But David went on to explain why it’s wrong. He used the famous foxes on Arowhon Road as an example.

The foxes up there were so habituated to Man that all you needed to do was to stop your car and open the door, and the foxes would appear. Crinkle a potato chip bag and you’d almost have one in your back seat. They waited for people to appear, guaranteed food sources. As a result, several things happened. First and most obvious, the animals were interacting with two tons of metal and plastic and the inevitable occurred, the cars won. Papa fox and one of his daughters are now living their lives out at Aspen Valley rehab, Papa still limping around on often broken limbs after car collisions. 

My favourite picture of Papa fox, shot a few years ago. 

But Papa has lived a long time, some say between 12 and 15 years, unheard of for a fox: it's like a person living to 120. Still fathering a litter of kits every year until recently, which meant that there was a continuing presence of foxes in that territory for a long time. Not just a pair... many. Maybe as many as a dozen. There are turtle beds along the trails and with the constant pressure of a dozen foxes, virtually no turtles have survived. We've changed the ecological balance, at least in that part of the park, in a few short years, by feeding the foxes in order to get some pictures.

But there's more. These foxes are so tame they would conceivably take food from the hand. "What do you think would happen", David asked, "if a fox nipped someone, perhaps a child, in the process of taking food from the hand"? The answer was obvious: the foxes would be hunted down, trapped and euthanized. 

Now let's get back to the pine martens at Mew. There used to be one or two. This week I saw five, someone else said six. True, some of them were kits (or whatever a baby pine marten is called). What do you think is happening to the squirrel population? Voles? Are we changing the environment for the sake of a few pictures? When is someone going to get bitten (not "if". It's going to happen)? Then what. How is it different from bears or wolves invading campsites? 

Back to the question at hand. What's the difference between baiting the wildlife, and feeding the birds? Nobody's going to get bitten by a chickadee landing on your hand for a peanut. And since the Park itself is setting a poor example by setting up feeders and putting out suet, how can they begin to prevent people from doing the same.

There has to be a line drawn in the sand (or the snow!), though. And by the end of the conversation, we all agreed: it's between feeding mammals and birds (yes we talked about baiting snowy owls but it's not germane to Algonquin Park). And let's not talk about the supposedly "Wild" turkeys at Mew who peck between your feet and come out when people show up.

Is it ethical to take pictures of habituated animals, even if you're not the one doing the feeding? Should we be flocking to Mew Lake or Opeongo after the martens? A conundrum wrapped in a mystery, buried in an enigma (thanks, Sir Winston). I'm on the horns of a dilemma. It's just that they're just so damned cute...

And to that couple who were throwing cheese and hamburger to the Pine Martens up in Opeongo, don't do it in front of me. You know what side I'm on.

Sure the Pine Martens are cute and photogenic. But there are at least 5 of them living at Mew right now, what's that doing to the population of squirrels and voles in the area? And what happens when someone gets too close and gets bitten? 

What else did I shoot at Algonquin yesterday? 

Not much but it was a great day, like every other time I've managed to get to the Park!

Colours on that immature male Pine Grosbeak are exquisite.

Here's what a mature male looks like 

Common Redpoll 

American Goldfinch 

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