Category Archives: photography

Surviving the cold!

If you live pretty much anywhere in the world, I hope you are surviving the cold. It’s bitter, and frightening. The bright winter sunlight deceives you into thinking it’s nice “out there”, but trust me, it isn’t. One step outside the door and your nostrils freeze shut and your eyes water. It is not fit for man (in the generic sense) nor beast. Even our dog, Harley, who normally LOVES the cool weather is unwilling to venture out for very long. I can’t blame him. It’s cold on his feet for sure.

For a photographer, this extreme cold (unless you are into arctic adventures) is just plain brutal. It’s too cold for gear to function well. Batteries last about a nano-second. Forget fill flash and those other fancy techniques. Oh, and your tripod or monopod legs either won’t open or will take eons to extend to their full length. Yesterday it was colder here than in the Arctic! With windchill we reached a balmy -40ºC. It’s slightly better today. A delightful -32ºC ‘they’ say.

So, what’s one to do? Find something to shoot from inside your home, of course. 

macro shot of ice on a window in winter

Reminiscent of sea foam on the beach, this is, in fact, a macro shot of the ice that formed on the inside of my office window, and every other window in the house, overnight. Every day we’ve had to melt it, chip it out, and wipe up the ensuing mess. But, we are fortunate. At least we are warm. And the ice crystals are rather pretty to look at, aren’t they?

The Weather Network has claimed that this brutal cold airmass situation will come to an end tomorrow. That’s good news. Of course, once it warms up some we can look forward to a week-long snowfall. But hey, that’s winter here in the “Merry Times” of eastern Canada. We’ve all grown up with it and learned to, if not like it, at least live with it.

It’s a new year and I wish you all a wonderful one. May the sun shine on your life and your troubles be few and far between.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another tip for surviving the cold – let your imagination soar. Write something. Photograph something. Read something. Exercise your mind and, if you’re brave, your body. Happy New Year!

macro photograph of ice on a window in winter

Footprints in the sand? Or not?

Footprints on the beach? Look closely. If the illusion makes you feel warm all over, so much the better!

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

New Year – New Opportunities

As the bubbly beverages are shared tomorrow night, take a moment to reflect on the year gone by and the new year arriving at midnight. Look for the good things like what you have accomplished, how strong you’ve been, the generosity you’ve shown to others.

Then, on that positive note, look a head and plan to build on those things. Set a goal or ten for the coming. months. Maybe you’ll actually finish that project you’ve had in mind, possibly started, and abandoned because you’ve been “too busy”. Make time – for yourself and to be with those you care about. Be grateful for the good things, take care of yourself, and stop stressing about the things you can’t control.

Even though the cold outside is bitter, the sky is grey and the roads slippery at this time of year, slow down and look around. There is beauty in the simplest of things.  Even a dollar store plastic ornament takes on character and strength when you change the way you see it.

And now the boss (Harley), Joel and I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2018!

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, winter Tagged , , |

Winter Solstice

It has happened. Twenty minutes ago was the official “Winter Solstice”, indicative of seasonal change. Today, depending on your point of view, is either the shortest day or longest night of the year.

For the optimists among us, it means the end of declining daylight and the beginning of lengthening days as a prelude to the warmth of spring and summer. It also means it’s only a few very short days until that most emotional of all “Christian” holidays – Christmas.

Advertising agencies, toy companies, merchandisers and retailers are bombarding us with advertisement after advertisement lauding the perfect family Christmas. Even charities are getting in on that act. We are told that, in order to truly celebrate the season properly, we must gather around the dining room table, laden with a feast fit for royalty, and be surrounded by our nearest and dearest.

For many the reality is quite different. How many children will go to bed hungry Christmas Eve and wake up on what should be the most joyous day of the year to find nothing under their Christmas tree, if indeed they even have one at all? How many lonely elderly folks will sit and stare at the phone or the front door hoping for a call or a visit from someone they care about? Many families are separated, of necessity, due to work or other commitments. Sisters and brothers, parents, children and grandchildren scattered across this vast country or even around the world. And what about the homeless, ill or otherwise tortured souls that we try to ignore at the best of times, and especially when they intrude on our own happiness? What kind of celebration will they have?

There are so many TV shows that celebrate conspicuous consumption. Armloads of merchandise, worth a small fortune, are given away to screaming, grasping hoards of people in the audiences who, in all likelihood, already have all of the appliances and goodies that they need – and more.

Regardless of your religious beliefs (or none), perhaps we should think more of others at this time of year, in fact, all year long. A new season has begun and it’s a wonderful time to look around, offer a helping hand up to those who need it, and to celebrate with heartfelt gratitude if we are among the fortunate ones.

To all of my friends, family, customers and acquaintances, I wish you joy this season. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it brings you and those you care about great happiness and that the coming New Year will lift hearts and spirits. And please, take a moment to think about others. Be kind and generous most especially with your time, your attention to those who need it.

Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – Happy Hanukkah – Happy Everything!

Also posted in BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, seasons, winter Tagged , , |

First snow of the season

Although it’s not officially winter yet (Solstice is on the 21st this year), it’s not unusual to have the first snow of the season long before now. In fact, what is unusual is NOT to have any accumulation of snow yet.

Last night we had our first ‘real’ snow of the season (previous flurries hardly count). It was the heavy, wet stuff that clings to branches tenaciously. Children, anticipating their Christmas holiday, were no doubt excited to discover the ground and trees covered in white. Anyone who had to travel today was probably less excited by the prospect of slushy or icy road conditions.

But, this is Canada and yes, folks, we have winter. With the climate change we’ve been experiencing, it seems to be arriving a bit later than it used to, but it still arrives. It is hard to get in the ‘Christmas spirit’ without at least some white stuff on the ground, especially without having children around to build the excitement.

What we do have, though, is a pretty scene out there while it lasts. It’s enough to have me playing Christmas music on the stereo, baking some cheesecake, cookies – rum balls, of course, and shortbreads. At last it feels like the season has begun.

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, Christmas, seasons

Gorgeous mid-autumn day

What a gorgeous mid-autumn day for a drive in the country. I took the back road, the slow road, to Hampton this morning to join two friends for lunch and some ‘catch up’ time today. What a gorgeous day for it. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear blue. There was very little wind so the 0ºC didn’t feel quite as cold as it otherwise would have.

Doe, a deer, a female deer…

Just after I left home, the first thing I saw was three deer grazing in my neighbour’s hay field. Needless to say, when I stopped the car to take their photo, they were on high alert since it’s the middle hunting season. Theoretically they are close enough to human habitation to be safe from bullets, but we all know, in the excitement of the moment, some hunters might forget that small detail.

Out on the highway some creative individual(s) have built a few inukshuks. One in particular got my attention – it’s simple message being “A person was here”. It takes talent and patience to balance the stones so well to mimic the human form and remain stable. This has been there for quite some time, through the seasons and a variety of seasonal weather events as well.

Inukshuk

Once I got in to Hampton I realized I was MUCH to early to go to the restaurant, so I headed over to the Rotary Nature Park for a short walk. It was lovely in there. Even devoid of leaves, the trees provided some protection from the nippy breeze and the dried leaves on the ground warned me that there were ‘critters’ near by.

#HamptonRotaryNaturePark

Looking around I looked for the source of the crunching sounds…

Not here…

But there…

Grey squirrel with nut

He (or she) was proud of his find. Moments later a couple came walking by so the squirrel quickly climbed the nearest tree, hanging on to his treasure, and then leaped from branch to branch to take it home to his nest high up in another tree.

After watching him and his friends play for a while I headed off to #TheMatchFactoryRestaurant for lunch with my friends, Judi and Bev. Judi is Harley’s dog-mother and takes her role as honorary ‘auntie’ most seriously. With the cooler weather approaching she felt he needed to augment his wardrobe and presented him with this lovely monogrammed fall ‘coat’.

Although not sure at first, he warmed up to the idea! THANKS, Auntie Judi!

 

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, seasons

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 appreciation, BLOG

Choices, it’s all about choices

Sometimes I like to play with my photography but that usually ends with me having to make choices. It’s hard to decide which few photos (of many shot) to spend time editing.

Then a choice has to be made about how to use the final photo. Will one become a print? On regular paper? On canvas? Metal? Wood? Some other medium or a product like a mug or coaster or something? And if so, what? Or will it or another version be used for social media banners or a blog post highlight?

I went to the local Dollar Store today and bought a single, large Christmas ornament to play with. I roamed around the yard hanging the ornament from the branches of a blue spruce, a regular spruce, a lilac tree devoid of leaves, set among the branches of a burning bush – you get the idea. I put it anywhere I thought I could make it look interesting.

I narrowed my selection down to a few of the forty images that I shot and played with them. Now it’s down to the final ones and I need help. Have a look at the images below and let me know which one you like the best. It would really help if you could tell me WHY you made the choice you did; but if not, that’s ok. Also, any suggestions you might have about an end-use for your chosen image would be helpful too. Just leave a comment for this post with your photo selection and anything else you’d care to say!

To encourage participation, I’m offering a random surprise prize to be drawn on Friday evening from among the respondents to my ‘quiz’ – so get your answers in to have a chance to win something!

And, here are the contestants in the Choices line-up!

#1 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#2 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#3 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#4 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#5 Red and White Christmas ball

Also posted in BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, Photography techniques, seasons Tagged , |

Spontaneity is SUCH a good thing

Sometimes you have to celebrate spontaneity and just “go with the flow”.

Saturday morning, for no particular reason, Joel, Harley and I decided to go for a drive to Alma, NB, to see what there was to see.

I finally had a chance to shoot some ‘blueberry’ fields beside the road just outside the entrance to #FundyNationalPark.

Blueberry Fields Forever

Wherever you looked, on either side of the road, the red tinged leaves of the plants carpeted the fields as far as the eye could see. We weren’t the only ones stopping to admire Mother Nature’s splendour.

Once inside the park we stopped to check out Bennett Lake. Unlike the long hot days of summer, we were the only souls exploring that day. No children, no picnicking families, no couples paddling by. But the peace was palpable as we explored the shoreline.

Bennett Lake, Fundy National Park

Further inside the park we stopped beside the public swimming pool. From the parking lot you can explore the shore in either direction – toward Alma or toward St. Martins. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed every moment.

Looking toward Alma, NB

We arrived just as the tide was turning and beginning to flow back on shore.

Joel and Harley

Harley and me

Our explorations complete, we took a spin through Alma, stopping at the bake shop for sticky buns and coffee. Then, we headed home, our celebration of spontaneity complete!

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

Along the shore

Sunday morning I headed out for a trip along the shore – the shore of the Kennebecasis River and the shore of the Bay of Fundy.

Kennebecasis River at Hampton, NB

I was determined to avoid the boring 4-lane, tree-lined highways as much as possible. I wanted to see fall colours and water – lots and lots of water. My first stop as at the top of the hill on the old road between Hampton and Nauwigewaak, opposite the High-Low farm, overlooking the edge of the town  and the Pickwauket hills. There was a time when I saw this view every day of life as I traveled back and forth between home on the Kingston Peninsula and work in Saint John. That was prior to the construction of the ‘new’ highway that bypassed all possible scenic outlooks.

Once I passed Saint John I again got off the highway and traveled the shore roads as much as possible. Even there, it was hard to get close to the water except at spots where the road kissed the shore and you could actually see the bay.

On the shore of the Bay of Fundy, low tide

I passed through (among others) Chance Harbour where, at low tide with a cold wind blowing, I wondered how people living in dilapidated houses with shingles missing from their roofs kept warm. Dipper Harbour , with its piles of lobster traps neatly displayed on the shore, was so much more tidy with more apparently prosperous homes.

Dipper Harbour, NB

On through Maces Bay where the cliffs on the far shore were more obvious and seagulls hunkered down in the low tide mud flats and sea grass to keep warm while watching for lunch.

Maces Bay, NB

Meanwhile a lone fishing boat headed out into the bay.

Charlotte Co. NB

I was hoping that Lepreau Falls would provide a photographic opportunity, but with the months-long drought we’ve been experiencing, the river had all but dried up and the falls were nought but a trickle over the rocks. In St. George. though, some water was still flowing through the gorge and made for a pretty autumn image.

St. George, NB

Then it was on to St. Andrews. Since I was far too early to check in to the inn, I went exploring through the town.

One of three canons defending the town of St. Andrews, NB, outside the Blockhouse.

 

Blockhouse (fort) at St. Andrews, NB

 

Mouth of a canon in St. Andrews, NB

With the threat of invasion from the south somewhat reduced from when these installations were created, today’s visitors find more peaceful ways to view the Bay of Fundy and the shores of the state of Maine in the background.

Breakwater at St. Andrews, NB

At the other end of town there’s a rocky beach. At low tide more seagulls line up there, in the sun, to take off and keep a wary eye out for a fish or two that might become today’s meal.

Seagulls on the beach in St. Andrews, NB

Their calls are raucous and loud but totally appropriate for the moment, of course.

My exploring done, I headed off to check in to the #RossmountInn in Chamcook, just outside the town limits of #StAndrews. The main goal of my trip was to spend the night there and have dinner with a lively group of writers with whom I’d shared my trip to Ireland last spring.

Rossmount Inn, NB

It was a little too cool to take a dip in the pool, but it certainly looked inviting.

Swimming pool at the Rossmount

Others followed the winding trail to the mountain top. I didn’t make it up there, but they told me the view was spectacular and that, at one point, it had been the primary lookout for invaders approaching from the USA.

Apparently there are informative plaques along the way and the walk was well worth it, making me wish I’d gone along. The colourful foliage was still hanging on to many of the huge trees around the property, revelling in the warmth and sunshine of the late autumn day.

On a clear day like that from the front porch of the Inn you could see the Bay.

View of the Bay

Little details around the property make all the difference. The newel post on the front stairs could serve as a hitching ring for those arriving by carriage or on horseback. Unless it’s changed recently, there was a law on the books requiring hoteliers to provide stabling and hay for their guests’ horses – one I’ve always wanted to test.

All in all, my trip along the shores of rivers, streams and the famous Bay of Fundy was a good one, ending with a divine meal, good wine, good friends and much laughter.

After downing a couple of cups of coffee while huddled on the front porch of the Inn, a group of us watched the sun peek over the horizon as another week began. I packed my car and headed for home while others stayed behind to participate in another Go and Write retreat with #GerardCollins. If you like to write and want to be challenged to improve your skills, these retreat workshops are well worth the investment of both time and money.

Charlotte Co. NB

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

Fantastic Fall Foliage

Many people concur; the fall foliage this year is among the most spectacular it’s been in several years. The reds are redder; the oranges deeper; and the golds more brilliant than ever.

Just walking around our town right now is a joy. Sidewalks are carpeted in colour.

Hay fields that are inside the town are surrounded by forests punctuated with the colours of the season.

Yes, season the fall foliage is fantastic. It’s at its peak right now so if you want to enjoy the brilliant colours, now would be the time to hit the roads and trails. The days are clear, crisp and cool; the nights are chilly; and the colourful leaves reflect the colours of the season. This is Mother Nature’s way of easing us into the season to follow.

 

 

 

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