Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"On the road again..."

"sporadic musing"
On The Big Bang Theory, Penny says to Howard, "...you know a lot of doctors".
You should see my address book. As I get older and with accumulating medical issues...
That said, I have several friends and relatives who are entitled to that honorific too. They can be distinguished by the fact that I call them by their first names (Dr. Ron or just Steve or Gary). I'm on first name terms with most of them but I refer to the medical ones by their full names or functions (my radiation oncologist...).
Gone are the days when the only doctors you knew were your GP and your dentist.

Here's the same Loon I posted in the last blog. This time I shot it with the D800 instead of the Z7 — same lens, the 200-400 at roughly the same settings — to show the nesting box and to try to compare quality between the camera bodies. I can't see a ton of difference but the Z has the edge.

If I'm patient and the timing is right, I'm hoping to see some activity when the eggs hatch and the chicks are visible.

So here we are a few days later and my hopes have been fulfilled!

Well, one chick anyway. These were really difficult shots to render due to the bright sunlight. It took a lot of post-processing work to produce some acceptable shots. 

Skip forward a few days: the second egg never hatched and — I'm told this is normal behaviour — the loons have abandoned the nest and the remaining egg and moved off to rear the chick in more open water.

Family portrait. This one isn't the best quality but I like the story that the pose tells! 

Newfoundland trip update

It's less than a week before I leave and I really should be packing! I am, sort of: I've sorted my camera gear (major undertaking!), done my computer backup and prepared my travel hard drives, and I've updated the Excel file that details what I'm going to pack and how the containers will be organized. I always bring too much, only use half the stuff, but better to have it than not and there's room in the car, and I have the rooftop cargo carrier.

Last year I had some specific photographic goals. I achieved some of those, hence fewer specific goals for this year.  I do have some, though:

  • Icebergs. I'll be up on the Western Peninsula, at "Iceberg Alley" between Newfoundland and Labrador. I did get some good 'bergs in 2017, this time I want to try to get more dramatic shots, whether by finding unusual lighting or composition, or both. I'm a little unfocused here, hopefully it will 'just happen' when I'm there.
  • Whales! I still want to see a full breach. But they're addictive, these massive beasts are spectacular. I'm planning to take the family out whalewatching when we get together in the Bonavista area.
  • Puffins, of course, in Elliston. My son and family will be with me and (weather permitting!) my granddaughters will love seeing these birds when we go there.
  • Photo friends: Ron and Ricki will be in Twillingate at the same time as me for a few days, and I'll see Trudy and Jeff there too. I'd like to visit with Ray Mackey and Sheldon Hicks and maybe Darrell Heath and other local photographer and artist friends while I'm there.
  • Some long exposure oceanscape shots. I'm not satisfied with most of what I have so far and want to try harder. As you'll see below, I've got some new equipment to try to make that happen
  • Stars. Again, I have some new hardware and I'm hoping for some more dramatic images. Wouldn't it be great if there was an Aurora event? 
  • People. I say this every year: I want to make more images with people in them, tell some stories. I have to force myself to do this, it's not one of my strengths!

I also just booked 3 nights in Westport, NS — actually, past Digby — on the far western tip of Nova Scotia on the way home, August 19-22. A friend recommended this place for outstanding whale watching and it's a major birding area, including bird banding and migration centres (prime time, apparently!). Lighthouses, etc. 

One challenge: "Digby Scallops" come from there. But I was told there are only two remaining eating establishments within a couple of hundred km — a restaurant and a cafĂ©. Apparently there used to be a famous restaurant a ferry-ride away but they have closed! I'm sure I won't starve...

Should be great. Have a look at their website: https://www.novascotiawhalewatching.ca/

I'm writing this post over time. It's now Tuesday, June 25 and I'm leaving on Monday. Lots to do before I go... and some snags have come up. Let's just say that I have an appointment tomorrow for another probable root canal (I don't want ti be stuck out there in pain...) and yesterday, I had some car trouble where the "Check Engine Light" and others came on and I had no throttle. I got the car to Subaru but their diagnosis was, "we can't reproduce the problem". Great. It better not happen in the boonies in Newfoundland! The car's going back in on Thursday for brakes and another pass with the diagnostic computer. Initially they thought it was the catalytic converter, now they think something to do with the 'throttle body sensor'. Wish me luck! I renewed my CAA Plus membership...

Anyway my packing list is complete, I just have to get the stuff into travel bins and loaded in the car. I have to call Bell today to suspend services for the summer (why pay if I'm not here?) and finish up some house arrangements. Basically ready to go, though!

Raptors yeah!

Look at me. As I said last time, you KNOW I love basketball. I'm 4'20", I outweigh most NBA players and when I jump, I sometimes can ALMOST get my toes off the ground! What's not to love about that game! 

 Kawhi, if you're reading this, you know we want you to stay! Marc, Kyle, Pascal and everyone else, "Good Job", guys! And Nick: "Kudo's, man"! 

 Congratulations, NBA Champions, Toronto Raptors!

House still for sale

It hasn't sold yet, despite being an exceptional value for an very attractive property. People buy houses for various reasons, but in my mind, the ideal buyer would be a senior couple looking to get out of the GTA to a year-round or recreational home within a two hour or so driving distance from the city. The quiet and meticulously maintained Inn across the road makes it not-so-isolated location and it's steps away from the dock on the lake. It's a one-storey bungalow which could become wheelchair friendly if needed, it's high and dry, the road is the first one cleared after a snow, and there's a huge 3-car garage for vehicles and toys! Because it's not directly on the water, taxes are less than half, as is the asking price.

If you know someone who might be interested, please have them contact Anthony at Royal Lepage, 705-457 2414 or info@trilliumteam.ca. Here's the link to the actual listing.


It's been a while, so I have a number of shots you haven't seen before. Here are some, and I'll be working on my portfolio site in the next little while as well. The main portfolio page is here, with a myriad of navigational options. For what it's worth, since I work under "Creative Commons", feel free to screen grab a shot if you want, but just for personal use, no modifying anything and be sure to credit me. Pretty well anything on the portfolio site is available as a high resolution large scale print at very reasonable cost, just ask!

I plan to post weekly or at least bi-weekly from Newfoundland, so be sure to subscribe by clicking the "Newsletter" button (or here) to get a heads-up.

Without further ado...

Prairie Smoke at Carden Plain. Before the flowers opened, and after a rain shower. The last shot is a focus stack done in the Z7

Here's another 20-image focus stack done in the Z7 and post-processed with Helicon Focus. I'm working my way through the learning curve on this technique. 

Some Carden Plain birds. A bluebird, a hard-to-find and very shy Sora, the pretty little yellow warbler and a song sparrow in the rain. 

This tree-swallow favoured us with his song!

Upland Sandpoper. The D800 and 200-400 Nikkor combination autofocuses on Birds-in-flight like a dream, The fourth picture is actually a different bird, shot at a different spot about half and hour later.

Wilson't Snipe and a Virginia Rail (the Rail was on Prospect Road)

Experimenting with the iOptron Sky Tracker. I'm anxious to try it again in Newfoundland in a dark sky spot. There's a bit of aurora borealis in this shot of the Northern end of the Milky Way. 

A 10-stop ND filter combined with the Nikkor-S 14-30mm f/4 and then some post-processing with Topaz Studio yielded this shot on 12-Mile Lake. The same combination was used for this slo-mo shot of the White Water.

All right! See you from Newfoundland. Don't forget to drop in or subscribe and I'll remind you. I dare you!

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