Sunday, January 26, 2014

Earlier Light

One month after the shortest day of the year, and the light is starting to arrive noticeably earlier. Walking to work on Friday it was still quite dark, but there was a faint tinge of color on the clouds that made me think it might be worth getting my camera out. (And it was one of the warmer days of our weather roller coaster.) I had a meeting and I couldn't dawdle too much, so the sunrise didn't really arrive till I was on the railway bridge.

This lone tree has appeared in many of my photos. It must be far enough back from the river for the beavers to leave it alone.




These were taken with the RX100m2, mostly at ISO 6400 which is pushing it, but the noise/grain is still reasonable. The dynamic range between the bright sky and the dark shadows is large, but manageable if you shoot raw and use Lightroom to recover highlights and shadows.

See all 10 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updating Garmin Nuvi 250 Maps

I have an older Garmin Nuvi 250 car GPS. It's always a struggle to update the maps on it so I thought I'd write up the process.

I have nuMaps Lifetime North America ($90 versus $50 per update)

If you log in to myGarmin you are directed to download and use Garmin Express

I did, but it only offered to update Canada and border states, not the whole of North America.

The problem is that the device doesn't have enough internal memory to hold all of North America (the maps have gotten bigger since I bought the device). But it does have an SD card slot so I use that to install all of North America. But Garmin Express doesn't seem to recognize the extra memory.

The trick is to go into the advanced options and choose to install to both the device and the computer.

This installed Canada and border states to the internal memory of the device, but also downloaded all of North America to my computer.

Then you run Garmin MapInstall. (The download isn't obvious on their site, but Google should find it.) MapInstall will let you install additional map areas. The whole of North America won't quite fit on the 2gb SD card, but everything from Mexico north will. (Since Canada is already in the internal memory maybe you could omit it from the SD card???)

Note: If you have an SD card slot on your computer or an SD card reader/writer this is likely to be much faster than through USB to the device.

There's one last snag though - MapInstall thinks there's insufficient space because of the old maps. It doesn't seem to have any option to update or remove the old ones. But, on the Mac at least, if you just delete the old files there still won't be enough space because the files will be in the trash. So you need to use Disk Utility to erase the card first.

It seems to be functional and have all the maps. Of course, any problems won't show up till we're driving in the middle of nowhere!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

100 photographs

I put together a Blurb book of 100 favorites from my photographs for the year. (Actually Dec. 2012 to Nov. 2013 because I wanted it ready for Christmas.)  Blurb does a good job. I haven't tried any other companies, so I can't compare, but I don't think you'd be disappointed with Blurb if you wanted something similar.

It was a good year for travel and photography. The book includes photos from our train trip around the United States, a climbing trip to the Okanagan, a backpacking trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota, a family trip to Prince Albert National Park, our road trip to Haida Gwaii, a paddling trip to Grey Owls Cabin, a road trip to Wells Gray Park in BC, and of course, many from around Saskatoon.

See also my post about the books I made last year.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Print of the Week

Pine siskin
Pine siskin, Masset, Haida Gwaii, BC, July 2013
This is one from our road trip to Haida Gwaii last summer, at the Delkatla Nature Sanctuary just outside Masset. We were up in an observation tower which put us at eye level, and he cooperated in sitting still long enough to have his picture taken.

This was taken with the new Sigma 150 - 500 telephoto lens at 500mm. I was shooting handheld, so I boosted the shutter speed to 1/750 which meant a high ISO of 6400, but the noise wasn't too bad.

See also other Print of the Week posts

Friday, January 17, 2014







A little better quality this time with the RX100m2 instead of the iPhone.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Macro at the Mendel

I've been known to say "it's not the camera" when people equate good photographs with good cameras. I don't mean that in an insulting way, just that you can take good photographs with a basic camera, or bad ones with a fancy camera.

However, there are things that are hard to do without the right camera gear. One of those is "macro" photography - extreme close-ups. It seems a little odd that it's called "macro", which means "big", when it deals with small stuff. But the "big" that it's referring to is the photographs, not the subjects.

I've done a fair bit of macro type photography with my Tamron 18-250 zoom lens, but it's not really designed for it. I really enjoy this type of photography so I decided to buy a specific macro lens - the Pentax 100mm Macro.

There aren't many flowers or bugs around this time of year so I headed over to the Mendel Conservatory to try it out. I took a few shots on the way there. I'm amazed this one turned out so well since it was quite windy and everything was blowing around. I've taken photos of these fluffy seeds before, this is a close-up of where they attach to the stem.


There weren't too many flowers, even in the conservatory, so I took some photos of the cactus:


The depth of focus gets really shallow with macro photography, which can be frustrating when you don't get sharp photos, but it can also lead to some interesting effects:


The lens also works well at not so close range (although these are still small flowers).


It was a cloudy day which meant it was a little dim inside the conservatory so for some of the shots (like that last one) I was using the flash on the camera with a homemade diffuser (to make the light less harsh).

homemade flash diffuser

See all 16 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Photos of the Day

I noticed the broken ice when I was walking to work, but I only had my iPhone and it was still quite dark. But I left work a bit earlier than usual and the light was reasonable so I gave it a try. The iPhone did a decent job. And no, I don't seem to get tired of taking photos on the walk home :-) And no, I'm not tempted to drive instead!

broken ice 1


Hard to tell the scale on this second one, it could almost be something tiny instead of big.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Print of the Week

I chose one of the butterflies from the Key West Butterfly Garden for this week's print. (click to view larger)


See also other Print of the Week posts

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Walking Home

It was a little warmer walking home this evening, up to -12c (although -20c with the windchill) so I pulled out the camera to take a few quick shots.



I liked the S curve of the open water, which shows better in the second shot, but in the end I think I prefer the first. What do you think?

These shots were pushing the low light capabilities of even the RX100ii (ISO 6400) - better results wide angle at F1.8 & 1/30 sec than zoomed in at F4.9 & 1/10 sec.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Florida Keys Dive Video

I almost forgot about this short video I shot on one of our dives in the Florida Keys. I don't normally shoot video since stills are enough of a challenge. But it's hard to capture the feeling of being underwater with all the fish in a still photograph. And the RX100m2 is supposed to be good at video so on the spur of the moment I took this short segment. It was a shallow dive with some surge, hopefully it doesn't make anyone seasick :-)

This shot was taken around the same time. Which do you prefer?


See also my post on Diving in the Florid Keys

Saturday, January 04, 2014

New Years Day Photos

Normally I can't get motivated to go out to take photos when it gets really cold. On New Years eve I'd walked over to Museo in the afternoon and there was thick frost which looked interesting, but I hadn't taken a camera. So New Year's day, despite the -30c temperatures I decided to go take some photos.

If you're moving you generate some heat, but when you're standing around it's hard to stay warm. I bundled up suitably with ski pants and parka and my face covered. I stayed warm without getting overheated so I dressed about right. But I felt overdressed when a older man walking his dogs stopped to talk to me. He had on a vest, light gloves, and an ear-band and went on about what a lovely day it was! Only in Saskatchewan :-)

The hardest part was to keep my hands warm. I wore just a light glove on my right hand so I could operate the camera. But by putting my hand in my parka pocket in between shooting I managed to keep it from getting too cold.

Pentax DSLR's like my K-5ii work well in the cold (and they're weather sealed). Although they aren't rated for it I've never had a problem shooting even at -30c. I had a spare battery in an inside warm pocket, but the one in the camera lasted easily for the hour or two that I was outside.

Unfortunately, I didn't get too excited about the photographs. It probably didn't help that I went out close to the middle of the day. I figured this time of year the sun was still low enough to be interesting, but there was no sunrise/sunset color, and the light was very bright on the white snow. And with the cold temperatures the river had frozen over so there wasn't any fog. Still, after editing them down, there are a few reasonable ones.

I started with some dead leaves in the alley on my way down to the river.


This time of year when I walk this path by the river to work it's dark so it was nice to see it in bright sunshine for a change!


There was still good frost although it had started to fall off in places.


The river had frozen in a chaos of ice. (The fog in the background is from open water below the weir.)


I tried to capture the sun glinting through the upthrust plates of ice.


The ice crystals that had formed on the bare ice were fascinating but also hard to capture.


And finally more dead leaves against the bright snow.


See all 17 photos as a slideshow or overview

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Prints of the Week

I loved the shapes and colors of this recent sunrise photo so I printed it up big (16" x 20") to get the full impact. It's currently brightening up our kitchen.


The other print this week was for a friend to go with a black and white theme in a room of their house. It was one of the shots I took this summer when I was playing with my new RX100m2. The image below has a slight warm tint, but the print was pure black and white. The Epson 3800 and Exhibition Fiber do a great job of deep dark blacks.


See also other Print of the Week posts

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 Favorite Photos

It's not exactly original, but it's fun to try to pick out my favorite photos from the year. I say "favorite" rather than "best" because I have no idea which are "best" or even what that means. Since I take photographs for my own enjoyment, it doesn't necessarily mean most popular, although I'm always curious about which ones people like.

I took lots of photographs in 2013 - over 15,000, a record for me. (It sounds like a lot but professionals might shoot that in a week.) More importantly, I ended up with quite a few that I liked, which is obviously better than sheer numbers.

My original thought was to pick my top 10 or 12. I'd already picked out a favorite 100 for another project, so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to pick from them. I should know better! The more you narrow them down, the harder it gets. It's almost depressing because you have to "reject" photos you really like. I gave up at 20. Then today I saw a few "favorite photos of 2013" blog posts, one had 34 photos and the other had over 200! So I actually went and put back a few. What the heck, you don't have to look at them all :-)

As usual, click on the images to view larger. Or view all 25 as a slideshow or overview.

hummingbird, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

wood duck
wood duck, New Orleans Audubon Zoo

butterfly, New Orleans Audubon Insectarium

spring icicles by the river, Saskatoon

spring rabbit
rabbit with spring coloring, Innovation Place, Saskatoon

mallard takeoff
Mallard duck taking off from the river, Saskatoon

chipmunk, Black Hills, South Dakota

red fox
red fox, Prince Albert National Park

reflections of grass
stylized reflections of grass, Anglin Lake

black bear in the rain
black bear in the rain, near Prince George

bald eagle ready for takeoff
bald eagle getting ready to fly, Haida Gwaii

Townsend's warbler
Townsend's warbler, Haida Gwaii

Kingsmere Lake sunset
sunset on Kingsmere Lake, Prince Albert National Park

bee on flower
bee on flower, Innovation Place, Saskatoon

magic mountain 1
reflection of Crowfoot Mountain in Bow Lake, Banff National Park

ladybug on leaf, Saskatoon

Canada geese in flight
Canada Geese in flight, Saskatoon

green heron
green heron, Miami

reef shark
reef shark, San Salvador Island, Bahamas

Hawksbill turtle
Hawksbill turtle, San Salvador Island, Bahamas

butterfly silhouette
butterfly silhouette, Key West Butterfly Gardens

lizard eye to eye
lizard, Key West Botanical Gardens

reflections, Miami

winter sunrise, Saskatoon

sunrise clouds
clouds at sunrise, Saskatoon

As always, if anyone would like a print of one of my photographs, please let me know.