Saturday, December 28, 2013


As we drove home from our usual Saturday morning outing to the Farmers Market, there was an interesting sunrise going on. Once I got inside I headed to my office at the back of the house. The sky was still quite good so I grabbed my camera and then hesitated over where to shoot from. If I went in the back yard a lot of the sky would be blocked by trees and fences and houses, but I didn't think I had time to go farther. Plus it was darn cold out outside. In the end I just opened the window and shot from there. I like the abstract telephoto shots best, hardly identifiable as clouds.





There must have been ice crystals in the air to make the colored fringes where the sun was shining through the clouds.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day Photos

If you're looking for family photos I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place :-) We got together with family on Christmas Eve and the evening of Christmas day, leaving Christmas morning to relax and to head out with my camera at sunrise. Thankfully it wasn't too cold.

I like going out to take photos in the winter - there always seems to be something to try to capture - snow, ice, frost, water, reflections, ducks, dry grass. The bare trees and the snow make it less "cluttered" than summer time. And sunrise and sunset are at civilized times :-)

It wasn't an especially spectacular sunrise, but there were enough clouds to make it interesting and give some good color in spots. And to provide some color for reflections. There were quite a few tracks in the snow but the only animals I saw were a few ducks (common goldeneye, I think).

As usual, click to view larger



duck and reflections

The close-ups of the ice and water don't have much color anyway so they might as well be black & white. (Although I added a slight blue tint.)

ice and water

There were lots of track leading from the water - beavers coming to feed on the bushes beside the river:

beaver tracks

The bushes were still plastered with recent snow:

snow plastered bushes

I like to shoot the dead grass backlit, and in this case with the reflections of the sunrise in the background:

grass in the snow

In this next one I wasn't sure if it would look better with the tree in focus or the moon in focus so I took two shots. I ended up wanting both in focus, so I used Photoshop to focus stack the two images. (A pretty simple case.)

half moon over the trees

I took 269 photos in about an hour of wandering around. Of course, then I spent multiple additional hours editing and processing them.

See all 32 photos as a slideshow or overview

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Walking to Work Photos

There has been lovely snow, frost, and fog the last week. But even I'm not committed enough to take photos at -30c (-40 with the windchill). Thankfully the weather has warmed up a bit!

I was walking to work across the railroad bridge and when I looked down at the river there was a wonderful sparkling light on the water. It took me a minute to realize it was the reflection of the moon. (click to view larger)

Reflection of the moon

Of course, once I had the camera out I took a few more shots.



Innovation Place

Again, I can't help be amazed by what cameras (in this case the RX100ii) can do these days.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

From the Train

A few photos I still had in the camera, taken through the (dirty) window of the train.

Usually the moving train makes it hard to take photos


But due to delays we had quite a lot of time sitting still





Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wrapping Up

After a night in Miami we took the train north, stopping overnight in Schenectady as usual at the Stockade Inn and then continuing on to Montreal. We had a little snow in Schenectady but winter really hit when we reached Montreal where it was -16c with winds gusting to 50km/hr.

Miami was our last chance to sit outside for supper. (At Il Gabbiano - expensive but great view)


A nice tile mural on a wall:


Of course, I find my own artwork in the reflections in the water:


There is debate in Charleston over whether the cruise ships are desirable or not. The business people want more customers, but the residents would prefer not to be regularly inundated with tourist hordes. It was a foggy morning and you could barely see the cruise ship at the dock:

cruise ship in the fog

We went back to the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. It's a small aquarium but a nice one. The staff are friendly and they bring out animals for you to see up close and take photographs of. (e.g. the barn owl and the snake below) They also have a sea turtle rescue operation which we toured. Here it's mostly loggerheads with a few greens, the opposite of the Florida Keys.

barn owl


We also did the Gateway walk through churchyards and cemeteries.



In cold Montreal we took refuge in the Pointe-à-Callière Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History. And now it's time for the two day train ride back to Saskatoon.

See all 8 Miami photos as a slideshow or overview

See all 35 Charleston photos as a slideshow or overview

See also Shelley's blog post Miami to Montreal -- Then Home!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Key West Butterfly Garden

One of the places we visited in Key West was the Butterfly Garden. This seemed like a good one - tons of butterflies in a nice setting. I took a couple of hundred photographs to get these ones. It's always a challenge because they don't sit still for long.


Most of these I took multiple shots in order to get one where the butterfly cooperated and it was in focus. I only took one shot of this silhouette and then I decided it probably wouldn't turn out so I didn't take any more. It ended up one of my favorites. (The "frame" wasn't added afterwards, it was a part of the windows in the background.)


Sometimes half the battle is getting a plain background.


See all 16 photos as a slideshow or overview.

See also Shelley's post with some butterfly photos.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Florida Keys 2

More photos from our time in the Florida Keys. We had a Great White Heron visit our back deck:

great white heron

There was also a Belted Kingfisher around but, as usual, it didn't cooperate with being photographed. We saw quite a few of these on our drive down the Keys, sitting on trees and fences.

belted kingfisher

And more iguanas. Most of them are green, but this one was more colorful.


We went to Key West for the day and enjoyed visiting the Botanical Gardens.




We had planned to rent kayaks on Friday, but it was too windy so we visited the Dolphin Research Center instead. I love seeing the dolphins, but I'm a little uncomfortable at keeping such intelligent animals in captivity.


See all 34 photos as a slideshow or overview.

See also Shelley's post 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Diving in the Florida Keys

We hadn't really planned to dive when we were in the Florida Keys, we thought we would have had enough by then. But since we didn't do as much as we'd hoped on Andros (due to weather) we decided to dive a couple of days here. We're glad we did since it was quite different from San Salvador and Andros, and better than we expected.

There are lots of dive companies here. We picked one nearby where we're staying that got good reviews - Abyss Dive Center. Unlike San Salvador and Andros a dive master / guide is optional. We chose to just dive on our own. The first day the dives were shallow (Samantha and Horseshoe) - only about 8 meters (25 feet). There were tons of fish and the coral was in decent shape and colorful (the color is always better at shallow depths).  The first day we had another couple (beginners) with us, the second day it was just Shelley and I and we did a bit deeper dive (the Gap, 20m) first, and then another shallow dive (the Donut). It's nice to see so many fish, although most of them are small. The lobster we saw are also small. The groupers were also a lot more wary and a lot less friendly here. This is likely due to fishing and catching lobster. Even the dive people, who emphasize conserving the reef, are still spearfishing and catching lobster.

I love the Christmas Tree Worms. Each pair of "trees" is one worm. Look close and you can see the "heads" of the worms. You have to move slowly though - if they sense you (water movement?) they disappear ("fold" up) in an instant. I commonly have a couple of photos of them out, then subsequent shots of nothing.

christmas tree worms

The barracuda were quite curious and unafraid as long as you didn't make any sudden moves.

friendly barracuda

In the Caribbean, there are lots of these on the menu - conch fritters, conch salad, conch soup. It's not just the French who like eating snails! (Conch are large snails, this one was about 10 inches long.) You can see its trail in the sand.


We didn't see many Sergeant Majors in the Bahamas, but most places they are common.

sergeant majors

It's hard to give a good feel of just how many fish there are. Imagine being surrounded by flocks of colorful birds (only slower and quieter!)


View all 41 photos as a slideshow or overview.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Florida Keys 1

We're renting a house in Marathon for our week in the Florida Keys. It's nice not to be in a hotel for a change. The place we're renting backs onto the water (common here). This is the view from our deck/dock:

view from the back deck of our rental house

This bird was waiting for us when we arrived. At first I thought it was a Great Egret, but since its legs aren't black I think it's a Great White Heron (a white colored variant of the Great Blue Heron)

great white heron

The weather is much improved - sunny and warm. We're planning to do a few more dives, but otherwise we're just relaxing and checking out the area. We visited Curry Hammock and Long Key State Parks, and Crane Point.

The most common pelicans down here are the brown ones. I took this shot through the car window as the pelican was flying along beside us on one of the Keys bridges.

brown pelican

But there are also the white pelicans that we have in Saskatchewan down here for the winter (smart birds!)

white pelicans

We're seeing green iguanas all over the place, although I don't remember them from our visit a number of years ago. They're not native here, but they certainly seem to have moved in. I like them, but apparently they can be a pest. I even saw an ad for an iguana exterminator! I got too close taking photos of one of the iguanas and it dived into the water and swam away. They can swim really well!

iguanas hanging out on the dock

There are lots of little lizards as well, not sure what kind(s?) they are.


Crane Point was nice. I liked the huge Golden silk orb-weaver spiders. In the photo below the big one is a female and the little one is a male. The body of the large female is about an inch long. Bigger orb spiders have been known to catch and eat small birds and snakes.

golden silk orb-weaver spider

We also enjoyed revisiting the Turtle Hospital. It's awesome to see the different kinds of turtles close up. And it always feels good to see people rescuing injured and sick animals. This is Zippy, a juvenile Loggerhead. Young turtles have such lovely patterns on their shells.

loggerhead turtle

I just finished reading Life in a Shell: A Physiologist's View of a Turtle, it was quite technical, but interesting. For example, I learnt that sea turtles plan the depth of their dives and spend most of their time at that depth since they can only adjust their buoyancy while they're on the surface. For some lighter local flavor I'm reading Under Cover of Daylight by James W. Hall.

View all 45 photos in this set as a slideshow or overview.