Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Bucket List


Not much to do with photography per se, but I was prompted to think about how my days have become a bit aimless and how I need some motivation. One thing led to another, then I thought about my "Bucket List". What do I want to accomplish while I still can?

I'm not talking about things beyond my control, so winning the SuperMax lottery is not on the list. I can't physically do the stuff I used to do years ago, and besides I've already skied the Alps and the Rockies, won a racquetball tournament, flown an airplane (but never jumped out of one — nor do I ever want to!), ridden a motorcycle over 200 kph, won a combat pistol competition, hunted and fished and camped and canoed and sailed and swam in both the Atlantic and Pacific, driven a car in a rally (and almost won!), bench pressed over 300 lbs, drove a race car on a track, and so on. I've done a lot of stuff.

There's stuff I haven't done but it's not practical to think I could ever do it. Fly to space, beat a chess master, jammed with a jazz group (well technically I did, but that's another story...). I want to travel to some interesting places (Iceland on top of the list) but I didn't include travel destinations. So here goes:
• Create a painting or drawing good enough to exhibit
• Write a publishable book
• Sell a photo print to a stranger for $500 or more
• Write a song and get someone to play and record it
By publishing this list, I'm hoping to be motivated to work at it. Something every day. That's the #1 piece of advice I've gotten from published authors, by the way. You have to work at it every day. Make it a routine (#2 was "characters, characters, characters").
Note, I didn't say "get a book published". That may not be in my control. Also with my damaged vocal cord, I can't sing my own song and I'm not a good enough musician to play anything really well.
So now the big question: what does YOUR bucket list look like? Your turn!

New banner photo

Replaced today. Here's the one that was there before, to record it for posterity!

Print Sale!

It's cool when a print sells. Vindication. Proof that other people like your work, not just you or people you know. Most of my sales have been either to people I know or to people connected with the subject I sold one of those this month too, a candid portrait I had done). For instance Wintergreen bought some prints of an image I took of their upstairs facility.

Today a buyer in Australia bought this framed print through RedBubble:

I haven't been paying much attention (OK, "none"!) to RedBubble or Fine Art America (click to see what works I have there now). I really need to update my listings there because they are indeed online marketing arms. I'll spend more time on them in the next little while.

Incidentally, if I would make a sale in South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Antarctica, I'd be in all the continents! Come on, readers, you can do it!

Some of the nicest products these people make are tote bags and throw pillows. They're quite economical and outstanding quality: I've bought both as gifts for my family and friends (hint: if you live outside the US and you're buying a pillow, buy just the cover and not the insert, to save on shipping cost. Then go to a dollar store or Michael's for a pillow insert). My mom has a bag with one of my fox pictures on it and gets compliments on it every day! Here's a link to this particular one.
PS: if you're local, I have a substantial collection of unframed exhibition quality prints (and a few framed pieces) here, taking up space. I'd like to sell these, so I'm practically giving them away. They're all in 'crystal clear' bags, printed on 18x24 sheets of fine art paper, image sizes are typically 13x18. Contact me and come see them!

Quinte Air Show 2016
CFB Trenton, June 25

I had so much fun shooting the airshow at CFB Borden that I decided to go to Trenton for a repeat performance. The shows were similar but the Trenton venue was MUCH larger. They had some different planes and routines too.

I failed to find Capt. Match Hatta (Snowbird 3) amongst the 50,000 people who were there. But I did meet the CO of the Snowbirds and he got us (me and Amin) into the VIP area. Great view but not as good as these guys had:

Best seats in the house, and they weren't even watching! 

A little technical thing for my photographer readers. I shot with my 70-200 lens with 1.7x converter (most of the time) and I put my polarizing filter on. Made a difference. I did learn that 1/1000 second is NOT fast enough for this kind of stuff. I even experimented with 1/8000 second! Check it out:

In order to get this shot I had to pan with one of the planes (I forget which) and trigger a burst which included this image.When I did the same thing at 1/1000, the plane I was not tracking was motion blurred. This is sick. These planes are flying at a relative speed over 1000 kph and missed each other by a couple of feet!

One of my favourite pictures: a vintage P-51 Mustang. 

USAF F-22 Raptor during a high speed pass. This plane is 18% grey! Really hard to get a good exposure. Noisy with the afterburners going! The pilot turned it vertical right after this shot and took her straight up to 40,000 feet!

The Raptor on takeoff. You know how red-winged blackbirds like to harass bigger birds? I think this one bit off a bit more than he could chew! Bet he got incinerated in the jet exhaust. 

They called this the "Heritage Flight". The Raptor and the Mustang flying in close formation. By the way, the Mustang pilot was a USAF Major General . Also BTW, I heard that it cost $125,000 per hour to put the Raptor in the air. I'll bet it costs the "other" Raptors a similar amount after they re-sign Demarr Derozan! 

Here's the Snowbirds crew. The pilots are in red (they're all there, two are hiding in the 'close formation'!). They give a lot of well-deserved recognition to their maintenance crew, here in blue.  Processed in Topaz Impression 2, as discussed below.

For me at least, this is the most photogenic of the Snowbirds manoeuvres. It's called "The Battle of Britain". I don't know how they avoid running into one another: imagine the hours and hours of practice. 

I wanted to stop with the last shot, but I couldn't resist posting this one. 

The Quinte airshow was quite a production. There were a reported 50,000 people there, traffic lineups were horrendous; with temperatures hovering around 30°C and the miles of walking, we were wiped out by the end of the day. Coupled with a 2½ hour drive home. I look forward to being able to do it again next year!

Gales of November

If you're still on the fence about attending the Gales of November workshop up in Wawa on the weekend of October 27, time to get moving! There's still space, but it's getting close to time to get off the pot! Best deal of the year on a deluxe workshop weekend!

Visit for more information.

Topaz Impression 2

Topaz Labs has released version 2 of their marvelous "Impression" plug-in. That's good news and bad news. First of all, the effects and the fact that you can access thousands of community-developed presets are awesome. There are over 140 built-in presets!

Here's a shot at Fisherman's Point on Smoke Lake in Algonquin Park I shot last week and processed using Impression 2. 

The bad news is that it doesn't play well with lesser systems. In fact you need OpenGL 3.3 in your video card (or Mac OS 10.9+) to run it at all. And unless you have a high end system, you need to set the preference to "low resolution" or your hair will grow grey waiting for it to redraw. I expect they're working on that.

FWIW, I'm working on upgrading my computer: this has been the straw that broke the camel's back. My desktop is about 5 years old, which makes it 120 in dog years. It's been having a hard time running the latest versions of LR and PS as well.

If you can run it, you should get it. Amazing effects. If you already have Impression 1, the upgrade is free (don't delete version 1 when you install: just to be sure). If you don't have it, use this link before July 7th to get a 40% discount and enter the code "2IMPRESS" at checkout.

For the Birds

Yeah, I know. Lots of bird pictures. Just a few here, OK?

Vesper Sparrow with lunch for the kiddies, shot at the Cameron Ranch on Carden Plain.  

This is the same bird, hiding in a Hawthorn shrub. I suspect this is where the nest was. I don't think judges will like this shot in the Nature competition, but it tells a better story, don't you think? 

Maybe this is what he was hiding from! Male Northern Harrier in flight, possibly hunting although I think he's carrying something in his talons (he was quite far away when I shot this so it's cropped bigtime). 

Sometimes when you use spot metering and you've turned exposure compensation up, you get high key shots like this one of a Barn Swallow, shot at the Blind in Carden Plain.  

Algonquin Park

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my sleep patterns were weird: and that I decided if I wake up at 4:30am, I'd take advantage of it and do Carden Plain or Algonquin. So I went up to the Park one morning. Turned into a long day, though! In addition to the Fisherman's Point shot above, I did a slow cruise from one end of Highway 60 to the other, without seeing any of the moose or fox kits that others had. I explored several of the side roads that I hadn't driven before and filed away a few spots to revisit. Then I stopped for a bite at the Mad Musher in Whitney and headed home the long way via Bancroft.

I came across this Snapping Turtle laying her eggs by the roadside. Thanks to Steve for pointing her out! 

High Falls in Bancroft. I came home by the Eastern route after lunch at the Mad Musher in Whitney. I'd been here before but wanted to do a shot with the 10-stop ND filter at the Falls. The water was so fast-moving that ½-second was almost too long an exposure! 

Closer to home was this lily (I think it's a lily. Help me out here!) and I focus-stacked several images taken with my macro lens to get this picture. 

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