Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hi, I'm back!

Due to somewhat of a cascade effect, I haven't posted here in a while. When my dad was hospitalized and then passed away last month, a lot of the time I spent doing other things was, um, spent doing other things. That included work time, and creative time, and play time. A lot of that time became "family" time. So there was no time left to spend taking pictures, blogging, even riding my bike (I did 'force' myself to go out for a short ride from time to time. (how many times did the word 'time' appear in this paragraph? There will be a test at the end...).

I decided to simplify my blog postings. I plan to post reasonably frequently, make the posts shorter and the topics fewer. I'll post pictures, of course, because that's what this blog is about, and new techniques and tips to give you ideas, but I'll try to make them more succinct and organized. By skipping some of the fancy formatting and stuff, preparing a post should be more painless, and therefore somewhat more frequent.

A couple of years of doing this has not caused me to standardize the look and feel or even topic list since when I write it I generally write what I'm thinking at the time. Hopefully you will still continue to find it interesting and worth reading. Please feel free to pass the link on to others ( and if you haven't already done so, please click on the "Follow" button over on the right so I can see how many people are following the blog. It doesn't mean you will get junk mail or have to check in all the time, it just helps me keep track.

Non-photographic tip of the day
This is an important one. Please read this.

My dad was meticulous, almost obsessive about maintaining his "Bible" which is what he called his 'just in case' binder. It contained instructions on what to do, who to contact, where to find things, in case he died. Without it, we would have been totally lost. However my sister and I are still struggling to do the things that we need to. There are a million of them and many of them are not obvious and were not listed in the "Bible". For example, what steps does one need to take to advise the various branches of government (motor vehicle bureau, health department, social security, and (God help us), Revenue Canada) that he's passed away?

Fortunately he took steps to ensure that all his financial vehicles — bank accounts, investments, etc — were in both his and my mother's names. Did you know, for instance, that Power of Attorney ends when the principal dies? Did you know that a bank will not accept a legal, notarized Power of Attorney unless it's written on the bank's own form? That the Motor Vehicle Bureau is giving us a hard time about transferring ownership of their car (jointly owned) into our mother's name so that it can be sold, without a signature from my father (which might be a little difficult to obtain)?

So. Here's my tip. If you don't have a will, MAKE ONE. If you don't have a set of Powers of Attorney (for health and for property), MAKE THEM. You need a lawyer for this and I know a good one — email me for the name. Prepare a DETAILED "What to do if I'm not around" binder and tell the people who matter where it is. Keep it up to date. Make it complete.

Now some photo stuff.

As I said, I haven't done much in the last month. But there are a few pictures, and it's worth visiting my July Smugmug gallery.

I've become somewhat enamoured with HDR techniques. Some things work, some don't. I said before that Photomatix Pro is the defacto standard, but Photoshop CS5 has awesome HDR capability and I've been using that first. If I'm not satisfied with the results, THEN I'll go to Photomatix. Hasn't happened much... anyway, here are a few images to make you think.

Leafy Abstract At the Minden Wildwater Preserve. Slow shutter speed and camera motion.One of my better abstracts, I think. Watch for this image in the revised "Pathways" book.
Exploring While exploring a dirt trail in the woods west of Minden on the KLR, I stopped for some shots along the road. I wish I was a better rider, I'm still a bit nervous on this kind of surface. That's a pretty steep hill. HDR/Topaz treatment. Go to the smugmug site to see some images taken along this trail.

Wild Orchid Thai Restaurant and Antique Shop in Minden. The bright yellow truck screamed "do an HDR!" to me so I did. A 5-shot bracket and Topaz filtering resulted in this image.

The Minden River Cone Natalie owns the "River Cone" ice cream and takeout place in Minden. Their burgers and shakes are excellent, they have a wide variety of ice cream products. Be sure to drop in when you're in the area! The "Cartoony" effect is a result of some creative processing with Topaz Adjust. Blow up the picture to X3Large on SmugMug to see it better. The clouds were stripped in from another picture, as was Natalie in the window.

Cloudscape A mundane sky made spectacular through the magic of HDR. From my True North back yard. A beautiful day and these dramatic clouds made me run back in for the camera. It's a 5-shot HDR but the main effect comes from the Topaz Suite, "Spicify" filter.