Monday, March 03, 2014

Busy, Busy weekend!

New Header Photo

Every couple of months I like to change the header picture on the blog to reflect the season. Today's new header is wishful thinking, I think! Last night it was almost 30°C below and we have a ton of snow on the ground. The theory is, "if you think it, it will happen". Think warm thoughts!

The new header is actually an old photo that I took with my D70 back in 2006 on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It's amazing what quality a 6Mp camera delivers, even in today's terms. I enhanced it within Lightroom and Photoshop, then I applied the excellent "Paper Textures" extension in Photoshop CC. It's free, and if you install it, note that there are TWO versions, "Paper Textures" and  "Pro". Install both.

When I replace the header photo, I put the old one here for reference or it's gone! So here's the header picture that was up to the end of February.

The ongoing New Laptop saga

Strictly speaking, not a new laptop, just a new boot drive. The old one gave up the ghost, so I had a new drive installed. We put in a 256Gb SSD drive and loaded the operating system and programs on it. Data resides as it always had, on a second internal drive, backed up to various plugged in external drives.

By the way when I say "we" I mean I paid for it, and James Keller did it. He really knows what he's doing and is starting a fresh computer services business in Haliburton. He has my vote.

So my data was safe but I have to reinstall all of my programs. There are probably 20 of them that I use regularly, and a bunch of others that are more sporadically required and lots of support stuff. Today I discovered that I didn't have a PDF reader installed, for instance, or Dropbox. I've got the critical ones done but there are 7 or 8 of the main programs left to do and who knows how many of the utilities. What a pain.

I also discovered that I was missing some important pieces of the puzzle. For example, my Lightroom and Photoshop preferences and presets! So if I were you, I'd go look for those and make sure you have a backup somewhere. Also your Outlook file if you use that client. It's usually in some obscure location!

FWIW, the laptop sure boots up quick now! And since the swap files are on the SSD, I imagine Photoshop will fly much faster when working on some of those huge D800 files!

How's this for an HDR location?

I came across this old building last week. The sign on it says "Ontario's Coolest Building".What an awesome HDR site, especially if we can get inside (which we might be able to do after the winter). And across the road is a larger structure that had collapsed, so there's just some brick walls and framework left. Ill try to set up a shoot there!

This is a 5-shot HDR, then I added a Topaz Simplify layer.  

This is the yellow sign on the building (click to blow it up if you can't read it), shot through my car window. Hey, it was cold, OK? 

It was a busy weekend

It started with Ron Goodlin's wildlife presentation on Friday night, attended by almost 50 people. A wonderful program, turns on the 'envy' genes, both about his skills as a photographer and speaker, and his ability to travel and his great equipment.

Forgive the lousy iPhone photo! 

We went to the dogsled races on Saturday. It was a snowy, flat day, that got even worse later on. Sunday was clear but Saturday was a long day and I didn't get there the next day until much too late (someone told me the 8-dog race STARTED at 3pm. In fact it ENDED at 3pm. {sad face}.

It took a bunch of editing to make a useable shot out of this one. Really flat lighting and snow falling made it a difficult capture, especially since it was with my 400 mm lens. By the way, that looks like a GoPro camera on her chest: they're really ubiquitous. This was the 6-dog race on Saturday afternoon. 

This is an 11-week-old puppy. I tried to steal her to take her home, but couldn't get away with it. This has to be one of the cutest puppies I've ever seen. Her name is Nyx, after (Νύξ), the Greek primeval goddess of night. Apparently she will be bred in 18 months, so I gave her my card and said to call me in 18 months and 8 weeks! Do you think she bought the jacket to match the dog's eyes?

Dr. Ron, lying down on the job as usual! Ron, your camo isn't working! I SEE YOU!
I tried getting down on the ground too. It took 3 people to help me get up. {sigh}. 

The lighting was MUCH better on Sunday. This shot is only lightly edited. Could have used a touch more depth of field... 

But that's not all. I decided to drive home via Bethel Church Road, which leads to the white water venue on Horseshoe Lake Road. First thing that made me put on the brakes and grab the camera was this seasonal home.

It's a log building, boarded up for the winter, with a fastidiously applied coat of pastel blue and green paint. I thought it lends itself well to this painterly treatment. I had to climb up a snowbank to get this vantage point. Then one more step and I was in up to my hips. I didn't expect that, and didn't bother to take gloves with me, and couldn't use my healing right hand to help get up... you should have seen me floundering around!

That's still not all! As I got to Horseshoe Lake Road, I saw a herd of deer at a house on the right. I quietly got out, changed lenses, walked over to the driveway... and they ran off. I went to the white water, scouted around a bit, nothing doing, headed back. The deer were back again. This time I managed to get some shots. Even better, this one youngster was too curious to be frightened and I got to within about 15 feet!

Love his expression and the pink tongue sticking out! Notice his ears aren't even up! He's going to have to learn some caution or he won't make it through hunting season next year! He was trying to wind me, but I was cross-wind to him. 

An eyeball shot.Told you I was close! 400mm and cropped, but hey... 

...and you thought I was done for the day! When I got home, I saw these great clouds, the sun was about to set... I thought I'd get that colourful sunset I had missed last week. Again it didn't materialize. By the time the sun went down, it was cloudless. I spend two hours waiting for it out on the ice, to no avail. I sat in a fishing hut (no heat, but out of the wind) for an hour or so. Anyway, I took this burst while setting up the camera for later.

7-shot HDR and I painted in the lights. Then I added the stars. If those clouds had hung around for another hour it would have been more spectacular! I'll get one yet! 

So I figure that's enough for one weekend. Until next time!

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