Thursday, October 08, 2015

Autumn Leaves

“Some speak of a return to nature. I wonder where they could have been.”
- Frederick Sommer
autumn leaves

I couldn't resist another batch of photos on the way to work. The mixed palette of fall colors is delightful. I just had to fit in editing and posting them along with getting ready to travel.

autumn leaves

Questioning whether I liked the fallen leaves because of the color or the pattern, I converted a couple to black and white. They have a very different feel from the color ones, but they're interesting.

autumn leaves

autumn walk to work

autumn leaves

autumn leaves

autumn leaves

autumn leaves

See all 26 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, October 04, 2015

More Running

For some reason I've been getting more into running recently. However, we've also been travelling a fair bit and I haven't managed to do any running while we've been away. So when we came back the last time, after three weeks of no running, I was encouraged to find myself running my regular short route at a decent pace. So when I felt good on my long run (18 km) I thought I'd see if I could do it at a decent pace as well. That went ok until about halfway and then not quite so good. I ended up walking for a bit and then finishing at a much slower pace, ending up with a fairly slow average speed.

I wasn't really surprised. My usual rule of thumb is not to do more than double my regular runs on my longer ones. Most of my runs had only been 5 km, so trying to push the pace on 18 km was a stretch.

I bumped up my regular runs and the next weekend I took it easy on the 18 km run and it went a lot better. I even had some energy left and ran my fastest kilometer towards the end.

The next week I ran 9 km on my Tues. and Thur. runs. On my Sunday long run I felt a bit sluggish on the first half but still averaged 10.5 km/hr. But this time at halfway I suddenly found myself running 11.5 km/hr without really trying. I won't say it felt easy, but it definitely didn't feel hard. I finished the loop with an average just over 11 km/hr.

This weekend wasn't great weather, it rained all day Sat. and more was forecasted for Sun. along with a high of only 5 c (40 f). I wasn't sure I'd get out for my long run at all. But the rain stopped late morning and wasn't forecast to start again for a couple of hours so I headed out. It's always tricky to decide what to wear when the temperature changes so much. Especially when I could potentially have a long way home in the rain. In the end the rain held off and my clothes were just about right - a little warm with the wind behind me, a little cool running into it.

I ended up running the first half at about 11 km/hr, the pace I'd tried and failed at three weeks earlier. Today it was a comfortable pace. Like the week before, I found myself speeding up on the last half and especially the 4 km home stretch and ended up with an average speed of 11.5 km/hr, with my fastest kilometers at the end again.

That brought me to 40 km total for the last week, not a huge volume, but more than I've been doing for quite a while, and not bad for only three days a week. We're taking off traveling again, so I won't be getting running (much) for a while and by the time I get back it'll be winter here - not my favorite time for it! But if I can maintain some base then maybe next summer I can get back up to speed quicker.

I'm pretty happy with my last month of running and the improvements I've been seeing. I'm not going to win any races, but then again, I'm not likely to enter any! I'm just happy to be out there stretching a little and feeling good.

PS. Sorry for all the numbers - that's what you get when you combine a geek with a gps watch :-)

Friday, October 02, 2015

Random Shots

“Stuff your eyes with wonder… See the world.
It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” 
- Ray Bradbury 

lunch reflections
Another of my reflections. I took this one while I was sitting eating my lunch by the pond.

Outside our offices they have brought a bunch of plants inside from the patio. This is obviously not a native plant, getting ready to flower at this time of the year! I couldn't resist how the sun was catching just the bud.

fall color
And this one from the railway bridge on the way home. Lots of this color around right now. It stood out catching the low light with the river already in the shade.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prints of the Week

A couple more from Nepal.


I liked the wet texture and color of the rock, the green of the moss and plant, and the water flowing in the background. This was 1/30th of a second to blur the water, but still reasonable to handhold with image stabilization.


I went with black and white on this one since the color didn't add much - mostly just the brown grass of autumn. Without the color I could boost the contrast and make it more striking. We saw a lot of waterfalls on our Kanchenjunga trek but I found it difficult to capture the feel of them. I think the fog helps make the height apparent in this one.

Yesterday at the pop-up Etsy market someone told me I should be there with my photographs. I'm happy to share my photos and I certainly appreciate it when people like them, but I'm not that motivated to try to sell them. I just enjoy creating images for its own sake. I do have to be in the right frame of mind, though. I went to print something yesterday, browsed through photos, made a few test prints, but just couldn't get excited about any of them. Today I was more in the mood :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once a Runner

"Everything's a story. Dumb stuff happens in your life and you think it's dumb stuff, and then it turns out that it was your history, your life happening." - Again to Carthage
I just finished reading John L. Parker Jr's running fiction trilogy - Racing the Rain, Once a Runner, and Again to Carthage. I've been meaning to read them for a while. Once a Runner was the first published and is somewhat of a classic in the running fiction genre. Racing the Rain is the most recently published, but it's actually the first in the story timeline. I decided to start with it, and I'd say that's a good way to go.

I really enjoyed all of them, as evidenced by my reading them back to back. I saw reviewers complaining there was other stuff in addition to running, which to me is a good thing, I'm not sure how you'd make a story with nothing but running!

This is running at a high level, not your recreational hobby. I've never been involved in competitive running at any level, but I still found it interesting, although slightly depressing. You know that top athletes run much faster than normal human beings, but I never thought about how much faster. A pace that is pushing it for me is a painfully slow training pace for these guys. And the sheer volume of training is incredible. It's amazing that the human body can handle it. This is fiction, but I suspect that this part is fairly accurate. The author was a competitive runner himself.

There are lots of funny parts in the books that made me laugh at loud. The main character admits he's somewhat of a kook. The descriptions of the races are exciting, and by the time you get to them you really care how they turn out.

The main character grows up in Florida and starts out as a basketball fanatic, and only reluctantly starts competing in running. In Once a Runner he's running the mile. In Again to Carthage he makes a come back running the marathon.

If you're at all a runner I think these books will resonate with you, and even if you're not a runner I still think you'll find them a good read. Definitely recommended.
“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” - Once a Runner

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fog, flowers, and fall colors

Thursday, relaxing on the grass after a run, watching the river go by, I heard the distinctive sound of sandhill cranes. I lay back and looked up. There was a large group of them flying by overhead. Most of them were in an organized "V" but there were a few misfits that refused to get in line. Periodically the group would turn, losing their formation briefly but soon regaining it. A group of cranes is known as a "construction", "dance", "sedge", "siege", or "swoop".

Later, walking across the park I disturbed 8 or 10 northern flickers. I see them occasionally, but usually only one at a time. Maybe they are migrating. Although they are a kind of woodpecker, they often feed on the ground, which is where I found them. As I approached they flew up into the trees, displaying their white rumps. After I passed they descended back to the ground to resume feeding. When I returned a bit later they were still busy pecking in the grass. Maybe the recent rain had brought out some kind of bugs for them to eat.

Friday, walking to work, I first spotted several pelicans on the river, mixed in with a group of cormorants. Next I encountered a pair of belted kingfishers. Their chattering cry was what I noticed first, then I spotted them flying. They were hard to see in the trees, but one of them perched on a branch sticking up from the river where it was more visible.

Walking home I spotted a couple of blue jays. Their genus "Cyanocitta" is Greek for blue chatterer. And their specific name "cristata" means crested. I always liked these crested blue chatterers.

I didn't get photos of any of these birds, but I did take another assortment of shots on the way to work. The early morning fog on the river was what first caught my eye and prompted me to dig out the camera.

early morning river fog

There wasn't much wind and the still water reflected the rocks beside the river.

rocks and bridge

The bright morning sun back lit the leaves.

leaves by the river

Climbing the stairs to the railway bridge the sun was reflecting brilliantly off the river and through the trees.


I got fascinated by the water drops on the spider webs in the grass and the reflections in each drop.

raindrops on spider web

There are still a few roses, also covered in water drops this morning.

raindrops on roses

The pond was in fine form with the fall colors reflecting from the still water dappled with water lilies.

autumn reflections

I was commenting that the fall colors meant winter wasn't far away. The person I was talking to said they didn't mind winter. I don't mind the cold and snow so much, but I really miss the plants and flowers and birds and insects. Winter in Saskatoon is slim pickings for a nature photographer. I can only take so many photos of snow and ice and frost!

autumn reflections

The water lilies always seem to flower in the middle of the pond where I can't get close enough to photograph them. But this one was near enough to somewhat precariously lean out to get a decent shot. I love the contrast between the bright flower and the dark water.

water lily

We haven't had a hard frost yet, so the dragonflies (and the odd mosquito for them to hunt) are still around. Its wings are looking a little worse for wear though.


A good crop of berries - I predict the waxwings will be paying a visit.


And don't worry, I did still make it to work in time for a 9am meeting :-)

See all 23 photos as a slideshow or overview

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

After the Rain

After multiple days of rain, unusual for Saskatoon, the weather finally improved enough to lure me outside for a few photos.

The water drops on the succulents were like shimmering jewels but I'm afraid I didn't capture them very well.


It's the end of the season for flowers, but there are still a few around.




I struggled to catch the ornamental grass as it was waving around in the wind!


See all 9 photos as a slideshow or overview