Sunday, May 21, 2017

Food For Thought

My goal today is, as usual, to showcase some of my recent images and thoughts, but particularly, to give my readers, especially those photographers among you, some ideas and food for thought.

That's always my goal. Nothing pleases me more than when someone writes and says, "I tried what you talked about in your blog, here's an example of what I was able to do". I get those messages sporadically, but not often enough!

I don't specifically come out and say, "here, try this...". But I demonstrate by example and sometimes a reader will think, "that's cool, I wonder if I could do that". Yesterday that happened when I showed a focus-stacked image. I try to give enough information with the images or story, but I don't want to bore people with excessive detail, so if you want more info on anything, don't be afraid to write. My email is

A few random things to think on and perhaps contact me about:

  • anything you see here you're not sure how to do? I'm always happy to help with advice or perhaps even a workshop if you're interested.
  • I know where to get really high quality custom business cards very inexpensively
  • I'm going to Newfoundland in a month.  Does your office or living room wall cry out for a specific picture from there: a seascape, blue hour or golden hour shot, wildlife, colour abstract? Tell me in advance and I'll look for that shot for you.
    • for that matter, what about any of the images you've already seen here? Would you like a print (or a tote bag or a pillow or a coffee mug...)?
  • The Gales of November workshop isn't full yet. October 26-29th in Wawa, a chance to share time with a dozen photographers or so in one of Canada's most scenic places for very little money. Here's a link (I have to work on this page to update it but almost everything is there)
Talk to me!

"Spam, spam, spam, spam...."

Anyone else seeing a jump in the number of spam messages? I used to get about 20 per day and it's jumped to over 100 in the last week or so. It's annoying. A ton of messages offering me a free $50 Costco gift card...

That said, I have them well handled, or at least my ISP does. I'm set up so that they get blocked at the server and I never have to see them, except that I have a list of them dumped to a single daily email from the ISP, just in case something real slipped into that group. It takes me a minute to scroll through the list just to make sure.

But it's annoying. My email address is spread around a fair bit: I could change it but that means informing a lot of people, printing new cards, etc. Guess I'll just let it be, but it is annoying.

Speaking of cards...

I've gotten some compliments on my new cards. I didn't change the back, but I did create a new front side. Here's what they look like:

Front of card 

Back of card 
One of the biggest compliments was from a professional graphic designer who commented on the extreme readability of the text, especially on the  white side. That's the purpose of the card and it was my goal. The only negative was the multiple fonts on that side: I had to because switching over to the Mac, I couldn't use the original fonts and the FacZen Photography logo is a graphic, not type. 

I mention this because cards are very inexpensive today. What vendors do is to gang a large number of customers' cards onto a big printed sheet, then cut them out: they all have to use the same inks, stock and coatings and then it's very economical. Vista Print is a tempting supplier but the quality of the vendor I use (my account with them goes back to the '90s when I was doing graphic design) is much better. I can do a box of 500 cards for $20 plus shipping. So if you want cards, using your own art or mine, get in touch

Topaz Labs has something new in the works, to be released at the end of May. It's a platform that might let you do some quality post-processing without having Lightroom or Photoshop... but if you do have those programs, it will enhance your workflow and give you some great new tools!
I'm not allowed to talk about it yet in detail. But watch this space for more information. Click the "Newsletter" button at top right if you're not already a subscriber and I'll give you a heads-up a few days before the public announcement. 

Bird Photography

I am a mere grasshopper (so I have to be careful around some of the birds!). A few weeks ago, I proudly stated that I had counted 21 species on one trip to Carden. Only to discover that there are people out there who count over 150 species in one day! There's a pin out there somewhere to celebrate that achievement, in conjunction with Canada's 150th birthday. Crazy.

I still can't identify most of what I hear out there, or see. I do know a little more than I did before, though — by the time I'm 100 maybe I'll be more knowledgeable. FWIW, I've ticked off species I've seen in the back of my Peterson's book and my total is... drumroll... 105 species. 

I'm missing a lot of warblers. They're loud and fun to hear but damned hard to see! Patience, patience. Taking a whole day to cover the 8 km of Wylie Road at Carden Alvar is not enough... but I've never NOT enjoyed a day there!

Algonquin Park

Speaking of patience and enjoyable days... I could say the same thing about Algonquin Park. Obviously if I were physically more able, I'd enjoy it more but I honestly love just driving slowly along Highway 60, stopping occasionally, seeing what there is to see. I went up again last Friday, got to the Park around 9am and left around 4:30pm.

What did I NOT see? A moose. I was really hoping to but I think you have to get there a bit earlier in the day. Also "papa" fox (the guy with the pink frostbite spots on his nose) and his family were not around (it's a open secret where he hangs out but I'm not going to be the one to publish it!). I didn't even see a grey jay on Friday although I did hear some. I think everyone's working on starting their families at this time of year. 

Here's what I did see.

I jotted them down on my iPhone and took a screen grab 
Here are a few pictures.

Broad-winged hawk. #105 on my lifer list! I saw two of these: one first thing in the morning and this one on the way out late in the afternoon. He was actually singing – or what passes for singing for a hawk!

A couple of roadside waterfalls. I'm not that happy with the resulting pictures so I need to work on technique a little more.  Jesse Villemaire posted this one from a few days before and I managed to find it. The water flow was a little less than he saw.

A Loon at Tea Lake. I used another shot of this guy (and his lady friend) as the header on this blog. 

A Ruffed Grouse. I've got better shots but I liked this one anyway. 

All in all, a nice day in the Park. To quote Ahnold... "I'll be back"!

Carden Plain (Alvar)

I said I've always enjoyed every time I've been there. All true, but some visits are more productive than others. I was there twice this week (Tuesday and Friday). Tuesday was more productive.

Virginia Rail. Actually I found this on Prospect Road, about 10km south of Carden.  

I got three 'lifers' that day: the Virginia Rail, a Least Flycatcher and a Warbling Vireo. I got so many good shots that I decided to create a web gallery in Lightroom rather than post so many pictures here, and you can find it at Go ahead, click it. I think you'll enjoy the images. Not all are birds: you'll see why you shouldn't take your Ferrari to Carden!

There's a similar gallery of pictures of the Minden Flood 2017. Here.

Carden isn't just about birds. There are flora there as well, and some insects. Some of whom you don't want to meet:

This is an American Dog Tick. Fortunately not the kind that carries Lyme disease, but it can also host other serious diseases. I found him crawling out of my hair when I got home. As far as I could tell, he didn't have any of his little buddies with him and didn't bite me.  I'm careful to wear long pants, tucked into my boots when I go out in the field.

Parting Shot

I shot this after the Camera Club meeting on Wednesday. My goal in Newfoundland is to get some of these "Blue Hour" shots, inspired by the work of Ray Mackey (whose page you can find here). Ray gave me some post-processing pointers. I hope to spend some time with him in Newfoundland in July. 

Aside from the lighting and exposure, I was really careful with the composition and I reduced some of the clutter in the background in post-processing. It was cloudy, stars would have improved this image for me. I have to wait for an appropriate night to work on that.  

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