Saturday, April 04, 2015

It must be Spring...


No surprise, or it shouldn't be. I've seen snow coming down as late as early May!  Last night there were flakes of the fluffy white stuff that accumulated a few inches but the temperature is hovering around the freezing mark and it's melting. The maple syrup people aren't happy, nights are still getting down to the -10°C area and the sap isn't running, but it will get there.

Today I saw the first American Goldfinch pair at my bird feeder. Robins shouldn't be far behind. And a Cackle of Grackles is out there making a ruckus and scaring off all the other birds. The chipmunks haven't come out yet but the gulls are back at the landfill, competing with the crows for the delectable morsels of disgusting garbage... we've had bald eagles there all winter but I haven't seen them in a few days.
There was a red-winged blackbird at the feeder this morning (April 3) but he was too shy to let me take a picture. Remarkable because (a) it's the first one this year and (b)the red patch was outstandingly brilliant – almost fluorescent,
The ice fishing huts are off the lakes. Well, off our lake anyway... law says today is the deadline for removing them. My neighbour Jim Walker stopped by to chat, he says there's 30" of hard water in spots! That's a LOT. It's been a rough winter, very little snow but very cold.

It's the "Ugly" season for us landscape photographers. If you don't like muddy brown vistas, naked trees and wearing rubber boots that keep you dry when you step into deep gooey mud puddles, you'd best be patient. It'll get green again soon! And the flowers and buds will be out, bringing with them that sneezy drippy season if you have allergies and those itchy lumps cheerfully provided by our national birds, the blackfly and the mosquito!

T.G.I.S. !!

Painting is HARD!

Some people make it look so easy, but it's not! My regular readers will know that I've finally, after all these years, picked up a paint brush and started putting pigment on canvas. But it's really not easy.

I have a decided advantage over some of my other painting newbies: I get composition. I have a feel for light and how it affects the subject. But what I'm struggling with is putting lines and shapes where I want them, in the way I want, and mixing colours.

I've learned that you can make any colour out of Red, Blue and Yellow paint. You can tint it with white or shade it with black (frowned upon: you want black, you "make" it!), but I haven't been able to make the same colour twice! You mix up some, then run out and want to make more... good luck matching it!

So far. Not finished yet... I need to add some more bright colour and texture. And fix the edges of the leaves. I took some artistic license with the colours and with the composition (the leaves are supposed to be sitting on a log...)

Here's the original photo 

and here's sort of what I had in mind. This is courtesy of Topaz Impression and I haven't figured out how to emulate those brush strokes. Or colours! 

Thing is, I ruined this painting. I'm trying to fix it but it's not like rolling back the develop instructions in Lightroom or removing offending layers in Photoshop. Either I have to paint over what I've done (after it dries) or add to it, or just throw it away and start over.

I paint (and photograph) in an impressionistic mode. Two reasons: I haven't figured out how to paint fine lines yet, and I'm lazy and just want to stand back and throw paint at the canvas. I haven't got the nerve up yet to try a complex subject like a tree, but that's my next step.

It's fun, but it's hard. My goal is to be able to go out and paint "plein aire" some time this spring. Stay tuned...

Birds of Prey field trip

Shot in 2013 

These pictures were taken at my last visit to the Canadian Raptor Conservancy on Lake Erie just West of Port Dover. I've booked a return engagement for Sunday, May 10th for a group of 10 photographers. Cost is just $50 each plus tax (Right now I have about 7 people confirmed and a bunch of "maybe" folks. If you want to go, you need to send me an email RIGHT NOW.

Understand that this is NOT a teaching workshop: I'm not making anything, just facilitating the field trip. Priority goes to Haliburton Highlands Camera Club members.

Here's one I haven't previously published from that visit a couple of years ago. Great Horned Owl coming in for a landing. 

One final bird picture for today. I know, just an ordinary black capped chickadee staging on a twig near my feeder but I really like the sharpness and the "velcro" as Dan Busby calls it. And the diagonal lines, the lighting... I used Topaz Impression and started with the "Palette knife and Oil" preset for the painted texture.

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