Friday, March 31, 2017

'tis the season

'tis the season

This is one of my least favourite times of the year. I've really had enough pictures with white stuff in it. And when the white goes away, we're left with ugly brown mud. I don't know about you, but I just want to stay indoors and hibernate a bit. Still, the Doc says I have to walk (I'll start any day, now Jeff!) and, well, I am the picture-taking-man. It occurred to me last night that it will be less than a month now, and I'll be looking for birds at Carden Plain, watching trees and flowers bud... "come on, spring!"

Last week there were some dogsled races: just enough snow to make it happen.

That said, I did make it up to Algonquin Park twice in the last two weeks. Here's an image from the first of those visits. I put a lot of thought and effort into the making of this image. I get most of my concepts from seeing other people's work and most of my techniques by researching then trying them myself. But I think one needs to understand not only what the maker did to create an image, but also why he made the choices he did.

You may dismiss it as "just another landscape shot" but from the toning of the sky to deliberately leaving the distant hills slightly soft to provide a sense of depth and carefully balancing the colours to match my vision, this shot came out just the way I wanted it and the uncropped version will make an excellent large scale print.

I could easily have removed the road sign: should I have? Where does your eye go first? Then where? How does it get there? Does it want to leave the image or explore other things? 

I cropped this image as the banner header for this blog (reproduced here for when I change it next time):

It's hard to find an image that works well as a 3:1 or wider pano. This does, and carries the same ambiance as the original without the story.

I added a new hit counter to this site. Not that I don't trust the stats from Blogger... and I removed the revolving globe that doesn't tell me anything new. If you could zero it, it would be more useful, but a full map of hundreds of pins that cover North America and other countries isn't too informative.

Since Blogger told me I'm over 100,000 hits (105k today) I decided to start the counter at 100,000. So let's see what's really happening.

By the way, I used

That's what I figured. The big 7K and 10K hits a couple of months ago were an anomaly. Not even 300 hits in the last week. Of course, I haven't posted anything new...

...while we're talking about internet stuff...

In a conversation with someone the other day, she told me where her website is hosted and how she "could count on one hand the times she had a problem or her site was down over many years". It got me thinking about where I'm hosted, at a big international ISP called "" and I've been with them for close to 20 years and I've talked to their support maybe 6 times over that period of time. Usually to make a change I couldn't figure out but I remember the one time when my site went down for a few hours — it turned out the computer in their server farm that hosted my site went down. Fixed with one phone call. So problem-free.

So if I bored you while skimming that paragraph, let's get to the bottom line:
  • if you need a web presence of your own, 1and1's a great place to go [by the way that's "one-and-one" not "L-and-L"!). It's amazingly cheap, they have all the tools to let you build your site or they can do it and a live person answers your call if you phone their support.
  • If you still use Hotmail or even Gmail or, God forbid, AOL as your email address, it's time to join the 21st century. Let me tell you how easy it is to get your own email address. Still want to keep the old address so you don't have to tell people it's still valid? NO PROBLEM. Let me walk you through it.
Step 1 is to create a new domain. You might want to use your name, like "". Cost? $0.99 for the first year, somewhere around $10 per year after that (depends if you want .com, .ca, .biz, etc). OK, now you own your own domain! But it needs to be hosted somewhere.

Step 2 is to set up a hosting contract. 1and1 has it set up so you can do all of that in one swell foop. Get the domain name and a basic web hosting package for $1.99 per month for the first year, $10/month after that. That's pretty well all you need: as many email addresses as you can eat (one for you, one for your spouse, one for each of the kids, the dog, the cats, the fish...), several domain names and your very own website that you can build for free! Even if you don't want the website, you have those email addresses! Here's the link and just scroll down to where it says "Create your own website" and click the yellow "find out more" button.

Step 3 is to set up email address(es). You have two choices: you can set up a whole new address, which you can access via webmail online or send and receive via your email package (if you use Outlook, or Mail or...). Or you can set up the new address to forward to your existing one! So if someone sends a message to your new address,, it will automatically appear wherever you get your mail now! You do that all at the 1and1 site, no charge.

I just set up a new address as a forward, to test it. Took me less than a minute.

So it's time. If you still think having an email address like "" is for you, then ignore this. If you think it's more professional to be "" or "" then follow this link.

Is 1and1 paying me to say this? Sort of... I get a small referral fee for new accounts, but I wrote this because I think people should get away from those hackable email addresses and join the 21st century. (I just got a virus spam email from my own doctor, who uses an AOL address. I didn't actually get it: I had a message from 1and1 that said, "virus detected" and they blocked it. Another advantage!)
I've also terminated my SmugMug account because I only used it sporadically and I don't sell images from there: it's a wasted expense for me. That said, I need to find another vehicle. Working on it.

Too Many Images.

I'm going to make a conscious effort to reduce the quantity and increase the quality of the images here. As I said to someone recently, I've been posting images that would score 7-8-9-10 out of 10 and I'm going to try to only post the 9's and 10's from now on (I don't have a lot of what I consider "10's" but beauty is in the eye of the beholder!).

So I'm going to cut back and post only images I'm really proud of (or that add to the story I'm telling). First step is culling the images that I'm archiving.

(OK, starting next time! It's hard to quit cold turkey.)

If you think the illiterate orange clown currently occupying the White House is God's gift to USA Incorporated, then you're probably reading the wrong blog. He's good for one thing, though: source material for comedy writers.

Here's a recent FaceBook post of mine for your enjoyment.
Someone told me that culling their photos after a shoot is a tedious chore.
But culling is a great activity. I mean, it's really fantastic. People who thing culling is bad are total scumbags. Total scumbags. It's great, it's really, really great. It's the best thing you can do. I've got all the best pictures, really the best. Some of them are tiny but they're great, really really great. And more people in the world have seen my great pictures than any other pictures in the world. I'm telling you. All the other photographers are worse than me. They're bad, so bad. Ansel Adams? A total disaster. Henri Cartier-Bresson, he's a fake. So fake, he has to have a hyphen in his name. Youssef Karsh? He copies my style. He knows my style because he tapped my phones. Someone told me he died in 2002. Fake news. So fake. He was an immigrant. Shouldn't have let him in the country, our country, the best country in the world.
So we sent him to Canada. Where we're going to build a great wall. It's going to be the best wall in the world, the best ever. And we're going to make them pay for it. Our photographers are the best photographers in the world. The best. You can hire them, you can pay them with opportunities for exposure, the best way to pay. And you can grab them by the lens. We're going to do that by banning all digital sensors, so we can go back to film and make Kodak great again. They're going to be so great and they're going to hire hundreds of thousands of people. Millions. It's time to make photography great again.
Feel free to share. If you share, more people in the world will read your posts. More than any other posts in the world. I'm telling you. It'll be fantastic. Think of all the exposure you'll get. Nobody shares posts better than you do. Nobody. It will be so big, it will kill the internet. Kill it. And we're going to make Mark Zuckerberg pay for it.

Update on Newfoundland

It's happening. I'm going for the month of July. And I've found a travelling companion so we'll be able to share both experiences and costs. It's not cheap – just getting there, by air or by car is expensive (if you fly, you have to rent a car there. That's a fortune!) – and you have accommodations and food and... to pay for, but it's going to be worth it.

The original concept has changed a little. Instead of finding a single place to stay for the month, we're looking at 3 or 4 place where we'll stay for a week.

We're working on our itinerary as we speak, and I'll share some of that here later. If you live in Newfoundland and you're reading this, I'd love to visit with you when we're there if we can. email me. Ditto if anyone is planning a visit during that time: let's hook up somewhere!

Something I really want to do for this trip is to make a list of my photographic goals. A "shot list" or "storyboard" kind of approach. When I review my images after a trip, I always feel as though I've missed important things. And I haven't captured the story. It's the old "work the scene" thing, applied to the whole trip, not just a photo-op.

I also need to work on some things. Here's an example:

Just an iPhone snap of the fishing huts from the Red Umbrella Inn in the parking lot
next to my house. Every little town in Newfoundland has weathered fishing stages,
old buildings, landscapes like this. I need to figure out how to give them that "wow" factor.
I also have terrible results shooting in bright sunlight (my last visit to Algonquin Park was a disaster in that sense). I'm trying too hard. I need to work on that Who knows, the sun might come out while we're on the Rock!

To my faithful readers: if anyone has always had their heart set on a specific image from there – a specific little outport, a puffin with a mouthful of capelin, waves crashing over a lighthouse, the milky way over the rocky coastline... a 6 foot pano or a 4 foot canvas for your living room or office wall – and you would like to commission me to seek out and make that picture for you, please contact me

What would one of my blog posts be without pictures? 

Visiting Algonquin Park in mid-March, we came upon this icefall on Highway 60. I was with John Reed and Amin Shivji and we were all taken by the intense colour of this ice.  

looking straight up! 

The Visitor's Centre never disappoints. Although we didn't see a lot of wildlife except there, we were presented with some variety:

Evening Grosbeaks fighting over a landing spot at the feeder

The ubiquitous and aggressive blue jays loudly proclaimed their possession

It took some time to spot this Ruffed Grouse hunkered down in the discarded seed husks in perfect camouflage. John spotted it and spent a lot of time saying, "look along my arm at where I'm pointing..." before I could see it. Some photoshop work was needed to make it stand out.

Then look who popped out of the brush and posed for a photo! First time I've seen a pine marten here.  

While John was here, we toured some of my favourite sites. As we drove along Bethel Church Road on the way to Wintergreen, we saw at least 20 deer on and off the road. Good thing we were going slowly. I was driving so no pictures...

I captured a natural-light candid of the young lady who brought us our brekkie. OK, maybe not totally natural light and Lightroom had a little to do with the lighting! (Tom & Diane, is that your daughter?) 

We stopped at the white water on the way home, then I showed John the "Screaming Tree". 

I shot a huge pano merge, totalling over 80 Mp; then proceeded to throw most of it away to create this impressionistic image.  

The following weekend I ended up at most of the same spots, this time with Karen Young.  This is a tough time of year to find creative subjects (but not my guests!).

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