Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There are good weeks and there are...

... if you finish other peoples' sentences, you possibly completed the title of this post with, "...and there are bad weeks." Then there are those people who have this irrepressible optimism, an intractibly positive attitude, who would have finished it, "...and there are magnificent weeks." If you fall in the latter group, I envy you and I want to grow up to be just like you.

This week has had its moments, on both sides of the pendulum. One of the things I like about writing is that it can be cathartic, especially when you focus on the good stuff. So let me do that this week, and not talk about the possibility that my eye problems might not be so trivial and...

I haven't travelled in a while. For various reasons, things just haven't worked out that way in the last couple of years. I'm hoping that next year will bring some possibilities for me. In the meantime, I'm living vicariously through some good friends' trips to Alaska, to Newfoundland, to Israel and so on. My birthday is coming up in a week or so, and my bucket list is getting longer and longer, not shorter and shorter as it should. Maybe that has something to do with my challenging week.

Why do I like teaching so much?

This is going to sound odd coming from an admitted recluse like myself, but it's because of the interesting people I meet. In the last month, I met someone who has won an Emmy and who is off to Africa for a while, an historian, a fellow who has taken pictures of grizzly bears in the wild from so close he could touch them (OK, he's nuts!), some people so new to cameras they didn't know how to look through the viewfinder, a dog breeder, and more. Every one of them has stories and life experiences to share.

My favourite thing about teaching is watching that light bulb come on. It doesn't always happen while they're here, sometimes later, but when students call and thank me for helping them see the light (pun intended), well that makes my day. With that in mind...

A call to my students and print customers

Students: please send me pictures. Please share images that you've made that you're proud of, and please give me permission to reproduce them here. Not to be critiqued, just for me and my readers to enjoy! And so we can live vicariously and enjoy the things you've done and places you've been. You have my email.

Fine art print customers: are you enjoying the artwork on your walls? Please let me know! Any suggestions? A wish list?

Both groups: testimonials would be great! I'd love to put some up on my web site and especially, I'm trying to figure out how to make this social media stuff work, so please 'friend' me on Facebook, add me to your circles on Google+ or invite me as a contact on LinkedIn.

Algonquin Park Photowalk

I'm going to be in Algonquin Park on the last weekend in September, to shoot the fall colours at their peak. Who wants to join me?

I plan to shoot at a great venue at dawn on Saturday and at another spot that will probably include a waterfall (or at least some moving water!) during the day. On Sunday I have an early morning and other commitments.

What's a Photowalk? Just what it sounds like. The walk leader chooses a venue and preps the participants what to expect. Then a bunch of people come out and shoot whatever pictures they feel like. People cooperate: they share their techniques, look at each other's work, get ideas from one another. There's no formal workshop training but the more experienced photographers usually help out.
Afterwards, there's usually a coffee shop kind of meeting where people exchange contact information. The walk leader will often make a website available for people to post their pictures. 

The benefits of doing a photowalk are (a) meeting and shooting with and exchanging ideas with other photographers and (b) an excuse to get out and shoot some pictures in a place someone else has scouted out! It's a bit like being in a camera club where you've been given an assignment, it stirs up the creative juices.

It's FREE and it's FUN.

Why am I doing this? It's NOT for the money: in fact I don't expect ANY payment of any kind for this. Go up and read point (a) in the paragraph above. If this gets me any students for my courses later on, or sells any of my fine art pictures, or kindles interest in local (Highlands) residents in starting up a camera club, then "bonus".

You should know that the Richmond Hill Camera Club will also be in the Park that weekend, along with a thousand other photographers who can't pass up the opportunity to shoot the colours at their peak. I plan NOT to interfere with them and to avoid being at the same venues at the same time (I'll join them privately on Sunday).

If you want to join me on the Photowalk September 28th, you have to subscribe to my newsletter. Here's the link. All the details will be in the newsletter or by email to people registered for the event. How do you register? Read the newsletter.

Picture time!

Everyone knows by now that my favourite venue is the Minden Wildwater Preserve. Here's a whitewater canoeist challenging the river. This colour sketch is SOOC: "straight out of the camera"! The D5100 has an effects mode that's really fun!  

Here's another one. I call this "Planning Ahead". The kayakers were thinking through their approach to the white water. I'm not sure, but I think this was at Earl's Hole, a feature on the river. By the way, by the time you read this, the D5100 might be gone. I'm torn about whether I should sell it, it's a lot of fun and has some great features I'm going to miss, not the least of which is the swivelling LCD. And the Effects mode! 

I've lived here for almost 6 years and I've shot hundreds (maybe thousands) of pictures from my dock or the corner where Red Umbrella Road and Pleasant Point Road meet. I went out two nights in a row to get this shot. My goal was to capture the nuances of subtle colour at sunset. I eliminated all the detail by exposing as a silhouette and by using the 10x ND filter to extend the shutter time. This is 8 seconds at f/8, ISO 1000. This image is available as a large format art print, check it out here.

On Sunday afternoon, I shot this image at the same spot. Again I used the ND filter to extend the shutter time (15 seconds at f/8, ISO 200). By the way, I LOVE the Xume filter adapter. I shot about 15 different images in about 10 minutes. Without the adapter, that would have been over an hour.  Click the Xume link at right for info. I'm going to work this one up as a fine art print too, just haven't finished it yet. 

Chipping Sparrow. I saw this fellow in the pine tree outside my front door, grabbed the D5100 (sigh!) and the Sigma 12-400mm lens and got this shot. The D5100 has a cropped sensor so you can get more up close and personal than you can with the D600 Full Frame.  What makes this image for me is the fact that the bird stepped out into the light which gave me the texture I was looking for.

1/800 second at f/8 (see a pattern emerging?), ISO 900. I had auto-ISO on to hold that minimum shutter speed, which I need for sharp images at 400mm focal length. 

That's it for today. Watch the newsletter for Photowalk information, it's exactly a month from today as I write this!

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