Saturday, May 31, 2014

Backyard Safari

Sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and a cup of tea I noticed a few insects and flowers around so after I finished my tea I put the macros lens on the camera and took a few photos.

Since not everyone is excited by insects, I'll start with one of Shelley's flowers:


Here was the first bug I noticed, mostly because it landed on me! It was about 2 cm long.

insect on chair

There was a similar one on the basement window with its wings open. The end of its body was different - damage? or it loses its ovipositor? I like the little "handles" sticking out from its body - not sure what they're for. Anyone know what kind of insect this is?

insect on window

Behind our house we have a bunch of starry false Solomon's seal which are actually native. (They're also spreading like weeds, but quite nice weeds.) (Thanks to Penny for the id.) I was just going to photograph the flowers, but then I noticed the ants and the ladybug. Ladybugs often pause to have their picture taken but the ants are more frenetic so it took a few tries to get this shot.

ladybug & ant on flower

There was another ladybug on our patio table. (You can see how shallow the depth of focus is with macro, and this was at f11, not wide open.)


And one last plant photo (no flower, but pretty variegated leaves).

variegated leaves with ant

The ant (did you notice it?) was an unintended addition. It's not quite in focus, but it stands out well against the light green.

View all 15 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Botanical Wonders

I don't seem to tire of photographing the spring blossoming. Everyone here appreciates the spring when it finally comes, but we don't always notice the details. The flowers on the trees go through a gradual blooming over weeks, but the leaves seem to emerge almost overnight.

I laughed to see the ladybugs covered in pollen on the tree flowers. The larches are now covered with soft bright green needles but there are still a few flowers on them.

fresh leaves





If you haven't had your fill of plants you can view all 13 photos as a slideshow or overview.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pelicans on the River

What would Saskatoon summer be like without the pelicans on the river. Usually they hang out around the weir or the sandbar island just above the weir. But they also cruise other parts of the river. Walking to work the other day I came across several of them a bit further downstream. Usually they are quite skittish and will swim away from the shore if they see people. But these ones seemed unconcerned about my presence. I'm not sure what they were up to since they weren't feeding. They just seemed to be paddling back and forth. One of them had the "horn" on its bill that they get during breeding season. Apparently both males and females get this horn so maybe the other one was a juvenile.

pelicans on the river

pelicans on the river

pelicans on the river

pelicans on the river

This last one was taken looking down from the railway bridge. The river is running high and fast as you can see from the stirred up silt.

These are American White Pelicans. They seem classier than the scruffy brown pelicans that are common further south like in Florida and Baja.

I only had the little camera without much of a telephoto, but they were fairly cooperative, and with lots of resolution I could crop to zoom in a bit more. They are a bit of a challenge to photograph in the sun because their bright white feathers are hard to expose properly.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Print of the Week

For a change, a landscape, and black and white. This is from near Moab, UT.
(click to view larger)


It reminds me of some Ansel Adams photos (not that I'm trying to compare to his work)

I like how it fades into the distance. It gives the impression of how big the country is and adds some perspective.

The original did have some color from the red rock, but it didn't seem to add much. And black and white seems to emphasize the starkness of the terrain.

I love actual landscapes, but I don't end up taking that many landscape photographs since I find it hard to get good ones.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


When I was out running yesterday I came across a bat in a bush right beside the trail. (This was on the lower dirt trail beside the river, not the paved Meewasin trail.) From a little research on the internet I think it was probably a little brown bat. It was alive but only barely moving. I'm guessing it wasn't healthy since it was right out in the open in broad daylight.

Bats can carry rabies. According to Wikipedia "Rabid bats usually lose their ability to fly, and rarely become aggressive. Careless handling of bats is the main cause of rabies transmission, which has resulted in five human cases in Canada since 1925. Fewer than 2% of bats in Canada are rabid, 95% of which are big brown bats."

Millions of bats in North America are dying from white nose syndrome, but this bat didn't appear to have a white nose (caused by a fungus).

It was gone by the time I returned from my run, someone could have done something with it, or maybe it moved by itself.

little brown bat (?)

little brown bat (?)

Bats are fascinating creatures. It's too bad so many people have an irrational fear and dislike of them. At the very least we should appreciate them for eating mosquitoes! It was nice to see this one up close in daylight.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spring Advances

It's interesting to see how the flowers on the trees progress. This one especially undergoes quite a transformation. (click on a photo to view it larger)

April 30
May 5
May 10
May 16
Some of the others are also opening up, like these ones:


And finally the leaves are starting to come and the brand new greenery is as beautiful as the flowers.

new leaves

sun on new leaves

Of course, we humans are not the only ones anxiously awaiting fresh growth. The gophers (Richardsons ground squirrels) took a somewhat destructive interest in these miniature tulips!

miniature tulips

These few tulips got a head start in a warm sheltered spot beside a window.


There are a few butterflies around. I'm guessing they overwintered? Which would fit with their raggedness.


These are more results from the little Sony RX100m2. I see the Mark 3 has just been announced, but I'm not sure it's got enough new or improved to justify switching. It has an electronic viewfinder, but I haven't really felt too much need for it. And it has even less of a telephoto where I'd rather have more.

View all 15 photos as a slideshow or overview

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Larch Flowers

One of the nice things about Innovation Place is that they have planted a wide variety of trees. On my walk to work I pass several larches. Larches are interesting because they are conifers with needles and cones, but they are also deciduous and turn color and lose their leaves in the fall.

The other morning I noticed they were blooming. The flowers are small but pretty. As usual, click on a photo to view it larger.

Larch flowers

Larch flowers

Larch flowers

Larch flowers

And further on there were more showy blooms on another tree:


The good part about getting distracted taking photos was it meant I missed the fire drill :-)

These were taken with the RX100m2, again doing quite well at close ups.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

First Flowers

I had heard the crocuses (or croci if you want to sound scientific) were out so on my walk yesterday, after wandering along by the water, I headed up the bank to look for them. At first all I found was one single small flower.

prairie crocus

I took a few photos but I figured there had to be more. Sure enough, a little further on, where I remembered seeing them other years, there was a large patch of them. I had to be careful not to step on them while maneuvering to take photos.

prairie crocus

Prairie Crocus are the first flowers to bloom on the prairie in the spring. It's amazing how they can grow and be ready to flower barely after the snow is gone. Frost won't kill them either, which is a good thing since snow is forecast tonight!

I had a fun session taking photos of them. The people jogging and bicycling by on the path probably wondered why I was crawling around on the ground!

Aiming into the sun made the hairs on the stems and petals stand out.

prairie crocus

I put the macro lens to work taking closeups of the yellow stamens and the pistils at the center of the flowers.

prairie crocus

If you're up for more you can view all 18 photos as a slideshow or overview or slideshow

My prints of the week were 8x10's of a couple of these for the fridge.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Morning Walk

The sun was shining and I had nothing scheduled so I went for a walk by the river this morning and took some photos. Walking down the back alley I listened to the crunch of my steps in the gravel, felt the breeze on my skin and the sun on my face, and tried to identify some of the birds I could hear - chickadees, geese, crows, magpies, robins. It's great to be alive.

When I reached the river the sun was reflecting off the water so I pulled out my camera for the first of many photographs (over 500 in two hours!).


Compared to nature, the walkway is a very hard, mechanical looking thing.


Just on the other side of the bridge two chickadees were flitting about, one of them collecting grass. Lots of nest building going on these days!

Black-capped chickadee

Luckily the chickadee was quite close since I didn't have my big telephoto out yet. At the bottom of the path down to the river there were a pair of geese. They let me get reasonably close before swimming away.


And then some robins. There seem to be a lot of them this year. One was finding something to eat in the mud by the shore and another was collecting nest material.

nest building

This Eared Grebe swam out from the shore as I approached. Quite the red eyes! They are apparently the most common grebe, but I don't recall seeing them before, at last not in their showy breeding plumage. According to the iBird app they are flightless for nine to ten months of the year - the longest flightless period of any bird capable of flight. A group of grebe's is known as a "water dance" :-)

Eared Grebe breeding plumage

A squadron of pelicans was on a sandbar in the middle of the river. (Who comes up with these collective names?)

American White Pelicans

For a change I had my macro lens to capture the trees flowering. They are easily overlooked, but I find them fascinating.


Almost home I spotted this robin busy eating last year's berries.

American Robin eating berries

I also took a ton of crocus photos but I'll leave those for another post.

View all 21 photos in this album as a slideshow or overview

Monday, May 05, 2014

Spring is Bursting

The last few years we've been away traveling in the spring, so this year I'm enjoying being at home to watch it unfold. We think you have to go to the tropics for exotic plants, but we have some pretty cool ones right here if you look close.

I should have my macro lens for these, but luckily the little RX100 does pretty well.




Click on a photo to view it larger, or view all 8 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Prints of the Week

Since I didn't print anything last weekend (got absorbed in programming!) I did two today. Both are from our recent southwest US roadtrip.

The first is a favorite subject of mine - reflections. This time, of trees beside Oak Creek in Sedona, AZ. What made it interesting was that some of the trees were sunlit and others were still dark in shadow. I've had this in my collection of computer desktop wallpapers and I've enjoyed it when it's come up in the rotation so I decided to print it.


The second one was from our hike on the Arizona Trail. It was taken quite early in the morning when the sun was on the hillside but hadn't yet reached the bottom of the valley. I like the big Saguaro cactus.


As usual, click on a photo to view it larger. And if anyone is interested in a print, let me know.