Saturday, September 12, 2015

It's my birthday

Just a short post, I wanted to get this done now because I've got a busy week ahead of me, with a club meeting and then my trip. More when I get back, of course!
A Milestone...

One that I'm not sure I'm particularly happy about. I've entered my 70th year.
(PS: that means I'm 69, not 70!)

Physically, I understand that I'm that age .

My father used to say,
"everything hurts. Except the stuff that doesn't work anymore".
I get it.

Mentally, I'm much younger, so it's frustrating that my body won't do the things my mind wants – no, expects – it to do. I'm still in my 50's. Or 40's! And that  people (OK, women) might find my chronological age off-putting.

I've done an awful lot of different things in my life – more than most people. Not only career related, but passions and sports and activities. That's something to look back at with some pride, now to figure out a path to go forward.

That iPhone case

A few weeks ago I mentioned a custom iPhone case with my own image on it. It arrived quickly and it looks exactly like the picture:

In hindsight, I might have chosen a brighter image but it really looks excellent. Also, the "Tough" case option comprises a formed rubber skin (no screen protector, though) and the picture is printed on a hard plastic shell that snaps on.

The only downside is that the opening where the headphone plug goes in was too small for the plug that I was using in the car to connect to the sound system, so I had to do a little shaving with a sharp knife and scissors (a Dremel would have been better but I was too lazy!). That damaged the shell too, but it's hardly noticeable if you do it carefully. I wrote to them about it, let's see how they respond.

It was inexpensive (around $25), and easy to order. Open an account at and you can do it yourself with your own images. Or you could buy one of mine! BTW they have them for iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, iPads and laptop sleeves as well.

My book is finished. YAY!

I've just completed and uploaded my latest book, "Best of 2014".

front cover

How do you choose a single favourite image from so many genres? By process of elimination I selected this one which is printed as the page 1 flyleaf for the book. 

It's 92 pages long, a full-sized coffee table book. I prefer the "image wrap" cover instead of a dust jacket, so I didn't put anything on the flaps.

You, my loyal readers, can preview the book here. If you're also a subscriber, you can download a free pdf of the book, click the "Newsletter" link up above.

I use's BookSmart software because it offers more flexibility than direct creation in Lightroom or their simpler Bookify or BookWright package. And I once used InDesign which is really flexible but I don't have a subscription to it any more.

If you want to do a book yourself, the process is a bit tedious but straightforward. Basically, you download their software (free), then create a book. In BookSmart, there are hundreds of page templates or you can create your own, then you drag and drop pictures into picture containers and paste or type text into text boxes. Make sure the pictures are high enough resolution. Good practice would be to select the pictures you want to use, then gather copies of them together in an appropriate folder so you don't have to hunt around for them.

The first time I did a book, I carefully resized my pictures to match the boxes: then I stopped doing it and just used a hi-res version (pixel count is important, DPI is not. Read my tech blog at You can easily resize or reshape your containers. If I add up the time it took to do this book (not including my post-processing of the images, of course), I'd say around 10 hours.

Blurb books are relatively expensive (it's about $100) so I only printed a couple of copies. I use them because of the quality. If you want one, you can order it from the link above. But you can also get a pdf copy of the book! I'll put the link for the free download in my next Newsletter, so if you're not yet subscribed, click the button at the top right corner of the blog. I'll wait right here until you do so!

Next up: "The Best of 2015"! I might even do a book called "Photo Impressions" that comprises only pictures of that genre that I've done in the past couple of years. I wish I could find a way to print economically so that it would be affordable and I could distribute more books.

Lake scenes

It's the end of Summer and the Fall colours are approaching. The cottagers are slowly disappearing leaving all this glory to us!

Sunset on the lake from the beach at 12-Mile Lake Church. There wasn't a lot of colour in the sky but Photoshop and Topaz Impression helped with that!

If I were any good with a paint brush and oils, this is what I would paint. I've had two conversations in the last week or two with Harvey Walker, the artist and teacher who has been running the Monday morning art classes at the Cultural Centre. I bring him up because he CAN do paintings like this, just as easily as I can do photographs and digital paintings. He said, "come back when you have 50 years of painting experience" when I commented how easy he makes it look.

Golden Afternoon. There's more to this picture than it looks! I took 150 exposures over the span of 20 minutes using my TriggerTrap in TimeLapse mode. Then I blended them together using StarStax – the "lighten" blend mode didn't work all that well but "darken" was ugly. Then I layered it in Photoshop and applied a couple of versions of Impression (Impasto and Van Gogh) at lowered opacities to provide the mix of textures and brush strokes that you see here.  

It's all about being able to express what's in your mind's eye (or ear: musicians can do the same thing with their instruments).  That has to be the goal I mentioned at the top of this blog post. I don't have 50 years... but maybe I can put a dent in it!


I decided to reward myself with one. After all, I have to get away from the frenetic pace, the pressures of living up here in the Highlands (LOL).

So next Thursday morning (the 17th), I'm getting in the car and heading Northwest. Destination, Lake Superior. Should be peak fall colours up there. First stop, Sault Ste. Marie where I've booked a trip on the Agawa Canyon train everyone says is fabulous. Then a couple of nights in Wawa at the Rock Island Lodge. I hope the weather cooperates because that's the greatest spot for a star trails shot! I want to do a lot of waterfalls and landscapes.

After Wawa, I might go back South to Batchawana Bay or I might head East along 101, through Timmins and perhaps Iroquois Falls before turning south towards home. We'll see how it goes.

I plan to take my oil paints and easel with me; again if the weather cooperates, I'd like to try painting in some of the places the Group of Seven were in so many years ago. I'll take pictures too, because my painting skills are non-existent. It will be fun to try.

Stay tuned...

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