Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Photos of the Day

There are lots of tracks in the snow in the winter so I know they are around but I haven't seen many rabbits (or hares) lately. So I was happy to spot this jackrabbit on the way to work. I wasn't sure if it would stick around long enough for me to get my camera out, but I ducked behind a tree and it went back to feeding. I was surprised when it didn't run away even when I approached. And when I stopped, it came even closer to me. But that turned out to be because it wanted to get by me, and once it did it bounded away. It looked a bit scruffy, probably shedding its winter coat.

Jackrabbit

A robin also let me approach quite closely before taking off.

American Robin

And more flowers were opening on the larches.

Larch flowers

Larch flowers

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prints of the Week

"I suffer from a love affair with this planet. My camera is my ticket to a front row seat for the spectacle of nature. It has taught me to see with greater intensity, understand more deeply, and appreciate more fully the blue planet we call home." - Jack Dykinga
From Monteverde Reserve, Costa Rica on our recent trip. Taken near the hummingbird feeders, but thankfully without a feeder messing up the photo. I think it's a Steely-vented hummingbird. Decently sharp result from the 18-300 travel lens.

hummingbird

Earlier on the same trip, this was one of the many turtles we saw in Austin, Texas. I like the reflections of the trees on the left, and how you can see its feet underwater, and how the turtle is framed by the two horizontal highlights on the water above and below and the circular ripples around it.

turtle swimming

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Photos of the Day

Walking home I spotted my first gopher (Richardson's ground squirrel) of the year, unfortunately not in a very natural setting! They've probably been out for a while since I often see them when there is still snow on the ground.

gopher

And the robins are around, of course. I hear some stayed around all through our mild winter this year. (Nice to see the grass starting to grow.)

American Robin

Most of the trees are flowering now. I'm not sure what kind this is.

flowering trees

I think these next ones are some kind of cottonwood (same genus as poplars).

Cottonwood catkins

Closer to home I heard tapping and thought woodpecker although it didn't sound like on a tree. I homed in on the intermittent sound and eventually spotted this small Downy woodpecker pecking at the top of a telephone pole. Apparently this tapping is not feeding, it's the woodpecker equivalent of bird song.

Downy woodpecker

See all 8 photos as a slideshow or overview

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Photos of the Day

After a few warm days it seems like spring is bursting out all over. The crows and magpies are busy collecting twigs for their big messy nests. A few days ago the first water boatmen appeared in the Innovation Place pond, even before the ice was off it. Today there are hundreds of them, and the first water striders are showing up.

The Forsythia are blooming and their bright yellow is such a contrast to everything else that is still brown. Although they aren't native, they've become a sign of spring here.

Forsythia

Other buds are swelling rapidly.

buds

And the larches are growing new leaves, and flowers that will turn into pinecones in a fascinating progression.

Untitled

Irises are pushing brilliant green up through the dead leaves.

sprouting

And a Mourning Cloak butterfly cooperatively posed long enough for me to pull out my camera and take enough shots to get a decent one. They are one of the few butterflies here to overwinter as adults, and therefore one of the first to appear in the spring.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

These were all taken with the new Panasonic ZS100. I'm still getting used to it, but so far it seems to be doing a good job.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Photos of the Week

Spring is arriving slowly, but the landscape is still dominated by the dead brown plants of last summer. But they can still be interesting.

rose hips

old bulrushes

empty seed pod

I took some more crocus photos with the new ZS100 (without frost this time)

crocuses

crocuses

Another sign of spring - my first beaver sighting of the year.

beaver

I also got a chance to test out the ZS100's telephoto with the waxwings. The results weren't quite as sharp as I'd like, but considering I wouldn't have gotten anything with the RX100 they're certainly better than nothing!

Bohemian Waxwings

I was trying to photograph them drinking from the pond, but ended up catching them taking off. I quite like the result.

Bohemian Waxwings taking flight

And I couldn't resist a few more shots of the ice and water.

thin ice

flowing water

For more of these photos see all 26 as a slideshow or overview

New Panasonic ZS100 Camera

I recently bought a Panasonic ZS100 to replace my Sony RX100m2 as my everyday carry camera.

Sony RX100ii vs Panasonic ZS100

I've had the RX100m2 for about three years and I'm still pretty happy with it. The main thing that attracted me to the ZS100 was the longer 10x zoom (25 to 250mm, 35mm equivalent) versus 3.6x on the RX100m2 and only 2.9x on the latest RX100m4.

The ZS100 also has a viewfinder, which the RX100m2 is missing (later RX100 models do have a viewfinder). It's not a great viewfinder, but there are times when it'll be handy.

The ZS100 also has better video capabilities (e.g. 4K). I don't shoot much video but it'll be nice to have better quality when I do.

On the other hand the ZS100 lacks the tilting screen of the RX100m2. I did use the tilting screen occasionally, but I can live without it.

It's a similar 1 inch 20 mp sensor in both cameras so I expect low light performance will be much the same.

The ZS100 is physically a bit larger than the RX100, but it's still a small camera that I can throw in my backpack.

I'll be keeping the RX100 for underwater photography since I have a dive housing for it. (And a telephoto is seldom useful underwater.)

Stay tuned for photos from the new camera.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Crocuses

We're tough in Saskatchewan. We don't let a little frost stop us from blooming!

I've been keeping an eye out for the crocuses for the last few weeks. Yesterday was a cold frosty morning but the sun was shining and we'd had some warmer days so I thought I'd take another look. If they were up I thought I might get some photos of them with the frost. Otherwise, the photos were liable to be similar to previous years.

It took a little hunting but I soon spotted the purple blue flowers poking through last year's dead brown grass. I only spotted a handful of plants and they were still relatively early. There should be more coming soon.

crocuses

And sure enough they had frost on them. I just about had frost on me by the time I finished! My sister Penny's later response was that "artists must suffer for their art" :-)

crocuses

I was using the little RX100 which, like many small cameras, only focuses close when wide angle. That isn't always a bad thing though, since it lets you get some background in.

crocuses

I love the ice crystals on this next one. I didn't really see the details till I looked at the photos larger on the computer screen. (It's worth zooming in.) The frost seems to collect on the hairs, perhaps protecting the main part of the plant?

crocuses

crocuses

For more of these photos see all 11 as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Lost" at Beaver Creek

I spent Saturday morning at Beaver Creek being the "lost" subject for a Saskatoon Search and Rescue training exercise. (One of Shelley's many retirement activities.) The scenario was that I was an elderly photographer with Alzheimer's whose wife had reported me as overdue. (That hit a little too close to home!) All I had to do was wander around and do my own thing taking photos. I wasn't supposed to try to avoid being found, but on the other hand I shouldn't be too easy to find either.

I set off before the searchers were "called out". I know Beaver Creek fairly well so I had a pretty good idea of where I'd be easy or hard to find. I headed east first and dropped one of my "clues" on a trail leading that direction. After which I looped around and headed west towards the river, leaving the main trails. Part of the scenario was that I was likely to wander off trail while taking photographs.

I didn't find a huge amount to photograph. It was a cold gray day, drizzling on and off, and extremely windy. The first thing I noticed were reflections in the creek, but with the gray sky they weren't too exciting.

reflections of trees

There weren't many animals around. Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes flew over making their respective distinctive calls. A pair of mallard ducks erupted from the creek at one point, complaining loudly about being disturbed. A few gulls were soaring in the wind. The only other birds I saw were a few chickadees. There was lots of signs of beavers but I didn't see any.

windblown chickadee

There was some ice around which I enjoy trying to photograph, although much of it was dirty which spoils the shining crystal look. Often you can ameliorate that by converting to black and white. After which adding a blue tint makes it look more "icy".

ice

Although overall things are still pretty dead and brown, there were bits of green here and there - moss beside a swampy area, new grass growing up through the old.

moss

Most of the trees aren't flowering yet but some are starting.

early flowering poplars

The orange lichen on the trees provides some year round color.

lichen

Mid morning I stopped and made a cup of coffee on my twig stove. I always like how a handful of twigs, often gathered within arms length of where I'm sitting, quickly and easily turn into a hot drink. No fossil fuels, no fancy backpacking stove, no big "campfire".  At this point I vaguely heard some yelling in the distance but in the scenario I didn't think I was lost and therefore wasn't trying to be found, so I ignored it. It was hard to hear anyway with the high winds.

Later in the morning I started to wander back toward the more travelled areas. I soon started to see the searchers. In their bright orange clothing they were a lot easier to spot than I was in mostly black clothes (but a bright blue backpack). Eventually one of them spotted me and started waving and yelling. I waved back and continued on my elderly confused way :-) Being on the far side of the creek with no nearby bridge threw them off a little, but they soon converged, found their way across the creek, and "rescued" me.

For more of these photos, see all 30 as a slideshow or overview