Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't Leave Home without It!

What's "IT"? Your camera, of course.

I'll talk about that in a few minutes. But first, here's what I did on Sunday...

I took my grandson Ryan (and son-in-law Richard) up to my friend Clinton's "Canadian Motorcycle Training School" in Horseshoe Valley near Barrie. He's 12 years old as I write this (it's Wednesday Morning, 3AM. A song title!) and it's his second visit here. If you're at all interested, this is one of the most fun and challenging things you can do. AND, Clinton teaches kids as young as 6 years old! As a motorcycle instructor, I'm awed by the fact that he gets people riding within a few moments! CMTS supplies EVERYTHING — not only the bike but they outfit you from head to toe. Check them out here:

Ryan, the "Power Ranger"! Outfitted from head to toe in proper safety gear (without the helmet for the picture, of course). This is a heavily processed HDR which gives the impression he should be riding a futuristic vehicle from Star Wars!

Here's a shot of Clinton teaching a couple of really small kids to ride ATV's. Their siblings — not much bigger — were on motorcycles!

Ryan was riding a Yamaha TTR-125L — one of the bikes we used to use to teach adults to ride on the street at Humber College. The challenge: this bike has a clutch and manual transmission. It didn't take Ryan long to learn how to use it and to shift gears. They put him in the same class as Richard, and treated him like an adult.

Instructor Dave Barr coaching Ryan on how to use the clutch and shift gears. Dave used to work with me at Humber College but now teaches closer to home at CMTS.
Richard had a shorter learning curve. Being a pilot, snowmobiler and all-around power sports enthusiast, he took to the dirt bike very naturally. He demonstrated a pretty high skill level for someone who had never been on a bike before.

Again a pretty heavy level of HDR toning. One image, processed with Topaz Adjust. I also used Nik Viveza 2 to tone down the green background. I never tried it before — it's a pretty impressive program.

Here's Ryan bombing around the track at CMTS. I swear the guy he's chasing is a Star Wars Storm Trooper! Richard managed to get 'air' off that bump Ryan's just past. I got a few pictures, but you'll have to go to my gallery to see them. Special border effects done with Nik Color Efex Pro, emulating an old Polaroid picture (looks better on a white background).

In order to get these pictures, I had to ride my KLR 650 out to the track, down a few hundred meters of dirt path. I was a little nervous with my camera pack on my back, I really didn't want to fall. I almost lost it once or twice when my front wheel dug into some soft sand... the KLR's a heavy bike. I'm really a useless offroad rider and I'm afraid to take the training with my knee and leg problems. I rode about 90 minutes each way from my house to CMTS and my legs are still sore 2 days later.

Now: don't leave home without your camera!

Today I went for an afternoon walk and took my camera with me as usual. I left the pack at home and just took the camera, with the 70-200 lens mounted. I spent a few minutes on my dock, lamenting the fact that the water levels in the lake have been lowered to the point where the dock is entirely out of the water. Then I walked further along the road. About 75m further, I happened to glance in a tree and there was a humungous wasp nest. Not a lot of activity, so I ventured closer for a better look.

The blended colours and textures of the nest are exactly what I've been studying as I head towards picking up a paintbrush for the first time. It looks like something a master artist would create. I got as close as I dared with the 70-200 lens — probably 8-10 feet away. Bracing it on a tree so that I could stop down a little bit, I captured this shot. I love it!

Apparently, these are "Baldfaced Hornets" (Dolichovespula maculata — Google is your friend!). 200mm, ISO=640, 1/100 second, f/8. I used every trick I know to carefully sharpen the insect, but i used Topaz Adjust 'simplify' on the nest to blend the colours
So when I say, "don't leave home without a camera", now you know what I mean!

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