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

Posted in BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, photography, 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!

Posted in Autumn, BLOG, Canada, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, 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

Posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography 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.

 

 

 

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

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!

 

Posted in appreciation, 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.

 

Posted in appreciation, 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!

 

Posted in accomplishments, appreciation, awards, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, seasons

A trip down memory lane

I took a trip down memory lane.

As a young girl I spent most of my summers in Wolfville, NS. My mother and I would pack up and head there as soon as school had ended for the year so I could study violin with Professor Kalejs at Acadia University all summer long. I loved those long, hot and busy summers and there was still time to play with friends, go to the beach or just be a kid for a while away from the concrete streets of Saint John.

View of the Annapolis Valley across the Minas Basin to Blomidon Mountain that evokes an “I’m Home” response.

When you’re driving toward Wolfville, there’s a point in the road, near Avonport, where you come over a hill and you can see across the Minas Basin to Blomidon Mountain. There’s just something about that spot that makes everyone who loves ‘the Valley’ pause, sigh and say “I’m home”. If you tell anyone who lives there about that, they know exactly the spot you mean – and they’ll agree.

Some of my favourite memories are of playing in the mud or shallow waters at Evangeline Beach when the tide was low. You can always see Blomidon overlooking everything.

We also spent a lot of time in what is now the Grand Pré National Park. It was a a magical place to explore as a child. Great twisted elms provided shade and shadows to play in. Beautiful and fragrant gardens overwhelmed senses long inured to the smell of auto exhaust and wet pavement.

On the Old Post Road overlooking Grand Pré

On the grounds there’s a statue of Evangeline, the romantic subject of Longfellow’s poem by the same name, on the path leading to the wee chapel that now houses the history of the area and the peoples whose histories are so closely intertwined. Visiting there today brings out a host of emotions, not all of them happy as you think about what one group did to others centuries ago.

#RedChairs

Because it’s now a National Park, you can enjoy the view from the Red Chairs that have been placed in parks across the country.

Down the road at Horton’s Landing stands this cross marking the location of the expulsion of the Acadians.

View from Ridge Road, Wolfville, NS

Meanwhile, back in Wolfville, I took a drive along the Ridge Road. If you can get on top of a hill anywhere, the views are spectacular. Vineyards have popped up everywhere enjoying the rich and fertile soil and warm, sunny days that mark summer in ‘The Valley’.

I awoke the morning after the solar eclipse with an urge to photograph sunrise from the Look Off at Blomidon Mountain. In the dark I took a wrong turn and ended up at Kingsport Beach instead, viewing a purple and orange sky across the mud at low tide.

I turned around and headed for the high ground, quickly stopping as I saw a brilliant red orb rising over the treeline behind a farmer’s field. It was amazing. I put the ‘pedal to the metal’ then to get to higher ground!

At the top of the hill the sun was still rising in the red sky. If one were superstitious, given the recent eclipse and then a red sky, that would be a truly frightening sight. For me it was just beautiful.

Once the sun rose a little higher it spread it’s warmth and light on the valley below – and another day began.

Panorama from “The Lookoff” on Blomidon Mountain, NS

I always enjoy visiting “The Valley” and the many friends I have that still live in the area. It’s wonderful to take a trip down memory lane once in a while and be reminded of one’s own history and ties to various places in this country.

 

Posted in BLOG, Canada, photography, seasons, summer Tagged , , , , , |

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!

Posted in appreciation, 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.

Posted in appreciation, BLOG, family, photography, seasons Tagged , , , , |