Category Archives: appreciation

And the winner is…

Seventeen people responded to my request for help in choosing an image, explaining their choices and suggestions for how the image might be most effectively used. I thank you all. Your comments were thoughtful and insightful! Two photos tied for most popular, #1 and #4 with #2 coming in a close second, #5 in third spot and poor #3 got not a single vote – but that’s ok. That’s what the game was all about.

#1 Red and White Christmas ball

This image stirred everyone’s imagination, in most cases remind them of moments from their childhood laying under the family Christmas tree looking up and fantasizing about the celebrations and gifts to come.

#4 Red and White Christmas ball

And this one tied for the honour! I think Bluette Higgins expressed it best when she said, “I like #4 the best. There’s just enough red to catch the eye, but the focus is more on texture and I like the way the indication of stripes in the branch works as counterpoint to the textures in the ball. With the blurred earth tones and blue sky; it all works together very well. A close second would go to #1 because of the interesting angle. It’s like looking up from the bottom of a Christmas tree, and the shot has a generally festive feel. I think either would work well as a Christmas card – one unconventional, the other more traditional.”

So again, I thank you all. To be utterly fair, each name was put on a slip of paper and inserted into a glass vase to be shaken (not stirred) and drawn by my hubby.

17 names in a bowl

 

And the winner is!

As soon as I get her address, her prize will be in the mail – a 2018 calendar featuring photos taken in Ireland last spring! Congratulations!

Also posted in BLOG, photography

On the road (trip) again

Our recent road trip to Ontario began with an overnight stop in Saint Jean Port Joli, Quebec. It’s a delightful town on the banks of the St. Lawrence River about half way between Riviere du Loup and Quebec City. We found a wonderful park to explore just behind our motel, perfect for a walk with Harley.  There had been a sculpture contest a few years prior to our visit, and the resulting artwork is displayed throughout the walking trails.

Out on the wharf and breakwater there are more things to see, including a functioning lighthouse. Most of the private pleasure craft have been hauled out of the water for the season and are stored, high and dry, behind it.

Our stop in Kingston was brief so I didn’t get any photos of that area. When we arrived in Goderich, ON, however, at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s place, I kept the camera close-by. They are fortunate to live on the shores of Lake Huron – a beautiful and quaint area surrounded by miles of farming communities, much of it farmed by both Amish and Mennonite families.

Bob had to entice Harley into the lake. He wasn’t sure what it was all about but, given the intense heat, he was willing to try. Meanwhile Pat tossed a stick for Barclay to splash after in the lake.

Neither Barclay nor Harley were fans of the intense heat. He was content to have a nap in the shade in the sun room (with the curtains closed and fan running!).

Geese were gathering for their migration south but a tad confused by temperatures well above 30ºC! Is it fall or summer? Not so sure?

We explored the beach and along the shore of the lake each day.  Bob and Pat were great hosts and proud to show us around the area that they’ve grown to love and now call home.

On our second to last morning with them we headed to the beach for a sunrise breakfast. What a gorgeous way to start the day!

And, we finished off the day with a short walk on one section of the lengthy walking trail system throughout the area – one that took us across an abandoned and reclaimed railway bridge. It offered the ideal spot to shoot a sunset, check out the fish in the river leading into the lake, and watch golfers enjoying some end -of-season evening time on the course.

I was intrigued by the many colourful canoes resting on the banks of the Maitland River. The sunset over the lake was utterly lovely and I had to pause and capture the moment!

And, our visit came to an end as we headed back toward New Brunswick.

We stopped for the night in a tiny town between Kingston and Cornwall. The Johnstown Motel is, without a doubt, a hidden gem. It’s elderly, to be kind, and the rooms are small. But, the proprietors are wonderful people, the place is immaculate and the view across the St. Lawrence River through the 1000 Islands to the USA is spectacular. It is well worth a stop and I only wish we’d had more time to see what else there was to see!

I walked the river’s edge early in the morning and the reflections of clouds in the still water of the river were gorgeous.

As we loaded the car for the next leg of our journey toward home, the geese flew overhead toward their winter habitats to the south.

Although it was wonderful to see family and explore a bit of our beautiful country, it’s always good to get home as well. On our first day back from our 3500 km road trip, we got up early. Joel took Harley for a nice long (5k) walk and then we headed to the Sussex Dog Park. I captured the rising sun and Harley got to really stretch out and run. It’s good to be home again!

Harley is Happy to be Home too!

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, family, photography, sunrise, sunset Tagged , , , , , , , |

Early autumn walkabout

Have you noticed? The autumn colours are peeking through, perhaps due to the extremely dry conditions, but also the season. I love to walk in the early autumn. The days are warm and the nights are cool enough to open the bedroom windows and turn off the air conditioning at last. The sun still has the strength to warm the soul.

The last of the hot air balloons flew through the other morning. Like birds migrating south, they are leaving the area seeking warmer locations for the winter season.

Every tree has at least a few leaves that are turning the brilliant colours we associate with autumn. It’s just the beginning.

Even the cheery Black-Eyed Susans have passed their peak and are beginning to wilt.

The last white rose on the bush is clinging on, making passers-by smile; a reminder that they’ll be back in profusion next spring.

As flower wilt and shrivel up bees hover near sucking up whatever nectar they can find to sustain them through the coming cold months. But for now, early autumn is a very pleasant time.

The remaining choke cherries are beginning to shrivel but they still make a tasty snack for birds fattening up for the migration south, or in preparation for sitting out the winter with the rest of us.

Wee blossoms in the ditch are fading, but still golden in the sunlight.

And high in a tree, the crab  apples are ready for raccoons and deer to snack upon.

Yes, early autumn IS the perfect time for a walkabout. The mugginess of summer has abated and the air is becoming crisp and clear. We are fortunate here in eastern Canada to enjoy four distinct seasons and the coming fall is, without doubt, my favourite.

For most people, January 1st signals the start of a new year. But for me it’s fall. Perhaps it’s because a new school year begins in September. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s invigorating after the sultry days of summer.

 

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , |

2000 km +: what a week!

A little over a week ago Joel and I went in to Saint John to view the arrival of the Tall Ships for the Festival of Sails event. It was wonderful to see the beautiful ships rounding Partridge Island and heading for the harbour. It was also wonderful to see the people who turned out to welcome the ships and their crews and to celebrate just one of the many summer festivals the city has to offer.

No sooner was that over when I hit the road for Nova Scotia to spend a couple of days visiting friends. It was a terrific time as well and on Wednesday I head for home again.

Thursday I did some laundry and tried to get a bit of rest because my (ahem) 50th High School reunion was happening on Friday and Saturday. I didn’t take very many photos as I was having much too good a time, but I enjoyed watching everyone reconnecting, laughing and sharing both stories and adventures.This involved multiple trips into Saint John and Hampton, of course.

Then, to round off the week I got up at 5:a.m. yesterday and headed to PEI to photographs the Dressage PEI show and the Atlantic Canada Equestrian Championships. Got home last night, crashed and got up at 6 this morning to start downloading hundreds of photos, sort them, prepare the proofs and then upload the whole shebang to my website – once it was back up and running.

Yes, this is the week that was. I think this one will be just a little quieter – I hope. Harley needs his mama to be home!

 

Also posted in accomplishments, awards, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, seasons

Summer is coming to an end but it’s not over yet

Yes, summer is slowly coming to an end. There was a distinctly fall-ish nip to the air this morning. But that didn’t deter Joel and me from heading in to Saint John to watch the dramatic arrival of tall masted sailing ships – the central part of the Saint John Festival of Sail 2017. They were magnificent as they rounded the corner from behind historic Partridge Island and began their parade into the Saint John Harbour.

Coming out of the fog from behind Partridge Island to begin the sail into Saint John’s Harbour

As the ships began to sail in the sun came out from behind the clouds warming the spectators who lined the route on both sides of the harbour. Out on the water a flotilla of boats – big boats, small boats, sail boats, motor boats, kayaks and more – were waiting to accompany the newcomers to their berths.

Watching the #tallshipsSJ arrive was a wonderful way to spend a warm and sunny mid-August morning. It’s just one of several events happening in our ‘hood’ of southern NB over the next few weeks. Here’s a sample of a few of the over 100 photos I took during the ships’ arrival.

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Events like this plus, many others happening in the area, encourage a sense of community and a LOT of smiling. Total strangers were talking with each other – about the weather (yes, it’s a typically Canadian pass-time), about the ships, about their families and pets and generally getting to know each other. Some shared photo tips. Some just smiled and said hello – but the general feeling was SO nice, especially given the current world-wide political climate. There was no talk of politics, terrorism or general angst. Just a variety of people enjoying the day and an experience, together.

Coming up next? A chocolate festival, a celebration of all things blueberry, the annual giant Flea Market (this week-end) in Sussex, the Kings County Agricultural Fair, the Balloon Fiesta and SO MUCH MORE. So, don’t give up on the season yet – there’s still lots of time to enjoy the weather and events that make it special!

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, summer Tagged , , , |

Summer days are flying by!

Summer days are flying by much too quickly. Not quite two months past the summer equinox, our days are noticeably shorter, especially for those of us who tend to arise with or before sunrise. Those who’ve been enjoying long summer evenings are finding the light for their outdoor activities is disappearing quickly too.

But, it’s still warm and people are still out and about enjoying themselves with summer pursuits.

Children enjoying a dip in Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

And the adult pursuits are a bit more leisurely, but no less fun for the participants.

Kayaking on Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

As summer winds down into fall, the days get shorter and colder, and the kids return to school we’ll see more of this…

Relaxing in the Big Red Chairs

Also, have you noticed that the closer we get to the end of summer, the more colourful the sunsets and moonsets become?

Bright sunset August 14, 2017

Full moon sinking behind the trees.

What a summer it has been, though. It’s the warmest and dries in over 25 years, according to The Weather Network. Although the danger of forest fires remains high, and for farmers and those on wells, the worry about adequate water for growing crops, watering livestock and keeping households running is also top of mind, for others it’s been an ideal summer for vacations, visits to the beach and travelling to see family and friends.

#SaintJohn harbour in the fog

I went into Saint John this morning and did a little scouting for vantage points that might work for watching the #TallShips arrive on Friday. As I faced the harbour and the uptown area, the fog was rolling in.

#UptownSaintJohn in the morning fog

But as I turned toward West Saint John things looked a bit brighter.

The view over the Harbour Bridge toward West Saint John

And facing north, it was positively bright!

Facing the north end of Saint John

Here in New Brunswick you can experience a variety of seasons in one day – often in one location – depending on the direction you are facing! I’ll bet people were swimming in Millidgeville!

Meanwhile, back in Picadilly, this lone young buck was hoping to meet up with some ‘ladies’ early one morning a week or so ago. That’s the field they frequent when foraging for snacks.

Yes, summer is flying by quickly but it’s been a pleasure to get out and enjoy it this year.

Coming up soon? The annual Flea Market event is on for the rest of this week and then, the week-end after Labour Day it’ll be time for the annual invasion of the Balloons. They’re always fun to watch and shoot (photographically speaking of course!). I’ll be on my deck, coffee in one hand, camera in the other, to salute the official ‘end of summer’ that is the #AtlanticInternationalBalloonFiesta.

Also posted in BLOG, family, photography, seasons Tagged , , , , |

How to capture summer memories

As the song says, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Everyone wants to capture those elusive summer memories to sustain them through the long, cold months of winter.

Joel and Harley on the shores of the Bay of Fundy

So, how do you capture them? There’s a trite saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and in fact, it’s true. How many times have you picked up a photo album to scan through the photos of a special event or time in your life? How often have you grabbed that handful of snapshots out of the shoe box to search for that one photo that you are sure is in there. Or perhaps you’ve searched the hard drive on your computer or phone, wondering where you hid a particular shot?

If you really want to enjoy those summer memories next winter, now’s the time to get it in gear before the season winds down and autumn arrives.

First of all, keep your camera with you. Whether you are shooting with a large DSLR, a smaller point and shoot camera or your phone, have it with you. The best camera is the one that’s in your hands at the moment you see an image you want to keep!

A lot of people shoot at the lowest quality jpeg that their camera / phone will allow so they can get the greatest number of images into the memory of the device. However, when you have photos that you want to print – either individually or to put into a photo book – you need a better quality. I recommend shooting at least at the highest quality jpeg your camera allows or, if you have a DSLR, shooting in RAW to allow for the best quality in future editing. Almost any size can be printed out at 4″ x 6″ but if you want larger images or some serious wall art (say 16″ x 20″ or more) you need lots of pixels to make that work; otherwise your finished image may be blurry or ‘fuzzy’ in the details.

West Quaco Lighthouse near St. Martins, NB

Sometimes the memories you want to capture are of people and pets at a particular location. Other times those memories involve a specific site or moment in time. To recognize what it is that you have captured, try to get as close to the subject as possible. The paint chipped top of this lighthouse is much more interesting up close than it would be shot from a great distance where you might not even be able to tell that the light is actually on!

An open lily

If you are shooting photographs of your garden, try to get close to one representative flower that tells the tale of your success, rather than an indistinct mass – although those have their place too if you have a prolific display of colour to show off.

Lily bud

Sometimes it’s fun to get in really close and use a shallow depth of field to emphasize new growth and a bud about to burst forth.

Hosta flowers

 

Astilbe flower

 

Bees at work in the hostas

Once you’ve captured a variety of images that represent your summer memories, select the best and plan on having them printed and either put into albums, printed into a memory book (there are a number of places that provide this service), or be brave and choose your favourite to be printed and hung on the wall to be enjoyed year ’round.

Just a hint, but if you’re thinking wall art then, as the saying goes, “go big or stay home”. An 8″ x 10″ print is NOT wall art – it’s a good desk or tabletop display. The bigger you go, the more impressive your print will be. Far better to have one or two large prints than a mishmash of smaller ones cluttering your wall with no obvious theme or focal point.

So, go out and enjoy capturing your summer memories while the warmth and sunshine last. Happy shooting!

Also posted in BLOG, photography, seasons Tagged |

A Farmer’s work is never done

Farmers work from dawn to dusk, and often much longer than that. Growing, cutting, tedding, baling and storing hay is a huge part of their lives during the summer months. The expression “make hay while the sun shines” rings true! The farmer who owns the fields around our home has a crew working from first to last light to take advantage of the respite in the wet weather we’ve had all spring and early summer.

Sunrise over the hills of Picadilly, NB

On the first day they cut. In this case, the farmer has several fields so once he gets two or three fields cut, everything rolls along like clockwork. As one field gets “tedded” (the hay raked into rows and ‘fluffed’ so it can dry in the sun), another gets baled. When the baling is done, the wagons arrive to take the string mesh wrapped bales away to the main farm where they are plastic wrapped for storage.

Let the baling begin.

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly it all happens. No time or effort is wasted.

Baled and awaiting transport to the farm

In hours the field will be totally empty and ready to start growing a second crop for the season. Some farmers are really lucky and get three cuts from their fields if the conditions are right.

It makes me think back to how hay used to be harvested. It was cut and tedded, but the balers were smaller and produced smaller, rectangular bales that later had to be hand loaded into wagons and then hand loaded into hay lofts. Before then, hay was cut either by hand with a scythe or with a mechanical mower towed by a horse or two. The loose hay was then hand forked into wagons, driven to the barn and hand forked into a loft to store for the winter. Both methods were very labour intensive compared to today’s methods with large bales handled by tractors with huge forks on the front.

A large round bale awaiting pickup.

To be honest, I’m glad our hay humping days are done. Even with the few hundred smaller square bales we handled every year to feed my horse, Beau, it was hot, sticky, itchy and exhausting work.

White lilac tree flower

My farming these days consists of watching my perennials look after themselves and planting a few colourful flower boxes on my deck railing.

My favourite flowers grow on the roadsides and in the ditches, happily looking after themselves, saving me a lot of work. They wave cheerily as we pass by.

Simple daisies looking after themselves.

Also posted in BLOG, farming, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged |

The time has come

It’s the time of year that farmers have a love/hate relationship with their fields. It is haying season.

Sunrise on Mulberry Lane

On the first really sunny day we’d had in a while, Harley and I headed out early for our morning walk. The sunrise over the hills of Picadilly seen from Mulberry Lane was spectacular. Fields on both sides of the road were fragrant with mature hay, ready for harvest.

Roadside weeds at sunrise

Even weeds look beautiful at sunrise. Harley is patient when I stop to shoot photos, taking my time to bend over and have a look to see how a photo might appear.

Hay as far as the eye can see

In the warm glow of sunrise, the hay takes on a golden cast.

Seed heads begin to dance as a light breeze blows across the field.

Timothy glowing

The mature seed heads of the timothy hay glow as they blow in the early morning breeze.

Almost beyond mature, the hay crop is ready. It’s time for that first cut and judging by the density of the growth in the fields, the yield should be excellent. Farmer Brown’s cows will eat well this winter!

In another day or two this field will first be full of bales – and then empty, ready to grow some more for a second cut and harvest for the season.

I love haying season (now that I no longer have to lift and stack bales). The smell of the dew drenched grass and then the intoxication of the aroma of newly cut hay wafting in my windows.

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, farming, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , , |

It’s summer time!

Yay, it’s summer time and, as the song says, the living is easy! Well, it’s easier.

There are lawns to mow, gardens to plant and tend, and, or course, the decorative touches around the house that make being outside a joy on a warm summer day.

Purple Petunias

I’m not sure why, but this year when I shopped for annual flowers for my five hanging baskets, the purple petunias won out over all the other offerings. Some people associate purple with sadness or loss. Not me. These flowers are prolific and so very, very cheerful on a bright summer day.

More purple flowers found their way into the whimsical horse planter on my deck railing.

Dew drops on petals – macro photo

When I stepped out the door early this morning the first thing I noticed was the collection of tiny dew drops on the delicate petals of my purple flowers. I dashed back into the house and grabbed my macro lens to take an up close and personal look at them.

Dew drops – macro 1X

The way they reflect the light and colours around them intrigues me.

dew drops on petals macro at 2X

Yes, it is summer time and, although there are chores to be done, the living IS easier and there are flowers to admire. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine when it’s available. Slow down a bit to enjoy this most fleeting of the seasons. Breathe in the scents that Mother Nature is providing – from the heady aroma of roses to the musky smells emanating from the bushes along the roadside. The smell of recently cut grass is a hallmark of the season as is the smell of clothes dried on a line outside in the sun.

The season is far too short. Pull on some comfortable clothes and venture out. It’s amazing what the warmth, sunshine, sights and scents of the season will do for your soul.

Also posted in BLOG, photography, seasons Tagged , , , , , |