Thursday, July 31, 2014


On a good run, it's easy to believe we (humans) evolved to run. I've been running more this summer than most. On Sunday I ran about 20 km (12 miles), the longest I've run for years. It wasn't a race or an event, just stretching myself. It felt good. I was a little tired afterward, but otherwise suffered no ill effects.

I've never considered myself a hard core runner, but I've run off and on, more or less, pretty much as long as I can remember. Never competitively. Mostly by myself. Sometimes to train for one of our climbing expeditions. Often just to stay fit and feel good. These days I don't worry too much about distance or speed. I've got no one to compete with. I don't carry any gadgets - no phone, no ipod, no gps, not even a watch. So I don't have much idea how fast I've gone. I usually have a rough idea of distance from knowledge of the routes I run.

When I was younger I had a rather cavalier attitude towards my body. It was there to serve me. I didn't worry about my knees or hips or feet. I used to run in my climbing boots. Not lightweight modern hiking boots that are more akin to running shoes, these were classic heavy leather boots with thick stiff vibram soles. My theory was that I was training to climb and when I was climbing I'd be wearing boots, so that's what I should train in. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best idea :-)

My longest run was in my twenties, an attempt to run a marathon distance (just on my own) that I quit after 30 km. It was the end of a summer where I'd run harder and longer than ever before and I paid the price in knees and hips. I remember hobbling back and forth to work wondering why I was doing this to myself.

After that I continued to run but not so hard or so long. I believed my knees and hips just weren't up to it. When Shelley trained for a marathon I didn't join her, thinking it was too much for my joints. I did do quite a few adventure races but they seldom involved straight running for long distances.

But gradually I've realized that there may be nothing especially wrong with my joints. It may just be that I have to have a little more respect for my body. These days I only run every other day and only ramp up my distance gradually. If things start to hurt I back off. As a result I've found that I can once again run quite long and reasonably hard (for me) without crippling myself.

Not that my body is anything like perfect. Recently when I bought new running shoes the sales person asked if I had any pain in my knees or hips or ankles and I said no, not currently. He seemed somewhat surprised and proceeded to tell me that I walked a little funny, one knee cap appeared to be out of place, my legs weren't straight, and one foot was almost a size bigger than the other. I shrugged. You don't choose the body you're in, you just work with it to do what you can. I figure mine has done pretty well for me, all things considered.

Recommended reading:

Why We Run - Bernd Heinrich

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami (my review)

Running With the Pack - Mark Rowlands

Born to Run - Chris McDougall

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red-breasted Nuthatches

I like these cute little birds. Although they do come to the feeder, just as often they are on the trees, usually upside down, and never sitting still for long. Lately I've been trying to get photos of them but it's been a frustrating process. I see them through the window, grab my camera, and get outside just in time to see them disappear. I wait around for a few minutes but there's no sign of them. So I go back inside, look out the window and they're back! I did catch a few shots but they're not the greatest since they are handheld at effectively 750mm. I should have the tripod but somehow I don't think they'd stick around for that!

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

Monday, July 28, 2014

On the River

Last weekend we finally got out in our kayaks on the river. The water has dropped to reasonable levels so it wasn't too bad on the upstream leg. Spring is past so there aren't quite as many birds, but still some around. Even some ducklings that I'm guessing are from second nestings.

Franklin's Gull
Franklin's Gull

family portrait

See all 4 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prints of the Week


This is the trail that I take from the river into Innovation place. This photo is similar to another of my favorites from a few years back. (One that I printed for the new police station.) Although the RX100 only closes down to f11, it still give a good starburst effect. As you can tell from the position of the sun and the leaves on the ground the old one was taken later in the year (Sept. 25)


It was a cool morning and there were lots of dragonflies sunning on fences and buildings. This is some kind of darner but I'm not sure which one.

Darner dragonfly

I also spotted a garter snake which I always take as a good sign.

See all 4 photos as a slideshow or overview

See also other Prints of the Week

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Noisy Juveniles

Birds that is, not delinquents :-)

I was biking home and came down the slope from the park to the alley and there were several birds on the ground. They flew up and screeched when they saw me. They looked liked some kind of raptor. Several of them landed on the tv antenna on top of the seniors home.

I headed home and put the long lens on the K3 and walked back to see what I could see. Luckily they were still hanging around.

Juvenile Swainson's Hawks

It was cloudy and there wasn't a lot of light. And they were a long way away so the photos aren't great. (I did use my monopod for a change.) But at least they were enough to identify them (I think) as juvenile Swainson's Hawks. Which makes sense because I've seen adults around the neighborhood. And I spotted one close to here last summer.

Juvenile Swainson's Hawks

See all 4 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nature's Beauty

The more I pay attention, the more I see. And the more I see, the more I pay attention. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I hope these photos encourage you to enjoy the nature around you.

A bee on the grass, still sluggish in the cool morning


A spider's web coated with water drops

spiders & water drops

Amazing flowers


Bizarre caterpilars


Hibiscus - one of my favorites


My friends the fishing spiders

six-spotted fishing spider

And an orgy of dragonfly sex

Striped Meadowhawk ?

It's a wonder I make it to work at all these days!

See all 16 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Print of the Week

This is from a trip a few years ago hiking along the Oregon Coast Trail. I think this was from near the campground in Ecola State Park, close to Seaside.

I was initially going to print one that included the lighthouse, but I decided I liked this one better for the simplicity of the sea and sky. One of the things that makes it interesting is that the ocean is lighter than the sky, the reverse of what it normally is. It's verging on abstract, but it's still recognizable. (click to view larger)

sea and sky

See other Print of the Week posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Photo of the Day

A frog's eye view of the pond at Innovation Place in the morning light.

Innovation Place Pond

Taking advantage of the articulated screen on the RX100

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Spiders

Since discovering the Goldenrod crab spider on the daylily in the back alley I've been peering into all the daylilies I come across, unsuccessfully. But then I was watching bees visit a flowering bush and I spotted one. This one definitely looked like an ambush predator with his legs poised to grab. I wouldn't want to be a fly that landed on this flower! (as usual, click on a photo to view it larger)

Goldenrod crab spider

Meanwhile, each day when I arrived at work I would look for the fishing spider at the pond. I found a fishing spider at the same spot, but it looked smaller. It was half hidden so I couldn't see clearly but it looked like it was on top of a ball of something. I did a bit more research and found that they carry and guard their egg sac. So it appeared I was correct that it was "pregnant" initially. I tried to get a photo of it with the egg sac but it kept hiding where I couldn't get a good angle on it. I came back after work but a group of people had had the nerve to sit right beside where the spider was, blocking my access.

When I arrived this morning, the water lily plant where it had been was gone! The grounds crew rearranging the plants, presumably. I figured that was the last I'd seen of my fishing spider, but I took a look around at nearby water lilies. And there one was! I couldn't see any egg sac so either it was a different one, or it had lost the eggs in the move.

I stopped by after work again and there was a spider in the same spot, but with an egg sac. Again I tried to take photos but it was in an awkward position. I tried to nudge it but that was too much and it dove underwater. I could just see it and the egg sac under the surface.

I knew Shelley was out with SSAR training to save lost souls (other than me) so there was no hurry to get home. It was a beautiful warm evening so I made the ultimate sacrifice and went next door to Boffins - strictly to give the spider a chance to come out. The glass of wine was just to keep me occupied :-)

My sacrifice paid off and when I came back the spider was in a much better position - even lit by the evening sunlight.

Six-spotted fishing spider

According to my research, the next step is that it will make a "nursery" web to protect the hatchlings. I will keep my eyes peeled :-)

See all 4 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Color and Form

Flowers are showy, gaudy even, hardly subtle. But that's because they're trying to attract pollinators. (Not to mention having been manipulated by plant breeders.) I just finished reading Seeing Flowers (available at McNally Robinson) which has made me more conscious of the forms and types of flowers (but not much better at identifying them!)

The irises are mostly past now, but the lilies are out, including the pond lilies (which aren't really lilies).


I'm afraid I don't know what this next one is (sorry Penny)


Or these:


The water lilies are easy (as long as I don't have to specify the particular kind!)

water lily

Apart from the colorful flowers, there is an abundance of lush greenery around, a result of all our rain. It's hard to believe it's the same bare, stark, almost black and white place that is Saskatchewan in the winter.

See all 11 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, July 12, 2014


When I walk to work at Innovation Place I usually go by the pond to see the flowers and whatever else might be around. I happened to look down at some water lilies and caught a glimpse of a very large spider. But it disappeared and although there didn't seem to be anywhere to hide, I couldn't find it. (From what I found out later, it might actually have been hiding underwater.)

The weather was nice so I ate my lunch by the pond. I went back to look for the spider, moving more slowly to not scare it away this time. Sure enough it was back in roughly the same spot. It's one of the largest spiders I've seen in Saskatchewan, the body was about an inch long, and it was probably over two inches across including the legs.


Here's a closeup of that photo:


And another angle:


I stopped by again on my way home and it was still there. You can see its eight eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes (although not all) and yet they often don't see very well, except for the hunting ones.


On the water you can see several dragonfly wings. I wonder if it's been catching the dragonflies that make the mistake of landing on this water lily.

From my Audubon Insects and Spiders app, I would say this is a six-spotted fishing spider. It hangs around water and water plants and will even dive to catch its prey.

As I was crouched beside the pond taking photos of the spider, a few feet away there was a photographer shooting a wedding party. Personally, I'd rather photograph spiders than weddings, which is why it's a good thing I'm not trying to make a living from photography :-)

I recalled taking a photo of a spider last year near here. It was also in July, and also on the water lilies. It looks like the same kind, but the current one is much "fatter" - maybe getting ready to lay eggs?

These were taken with the little RX100. It does quite well at macro shots, except that it will only focus close with the zoom at its most wide angle. Which means you have to get really close! I was afraid the camera would scare it away, but I moved slowly and even though the end of the lens was only a couple of inches away, it didn't move.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Prints of the Week

With being away and with summer I haven't been printing as much. But I took some time this weekend to print a couple of recent photos to switch out the ones we've got hanging up.

The first was the yellow warbler from Beaver Creek. I like the bright yellow of the bird, the flowering bush to the side, and the plain white background.

Yellow warbler

I also wanted to print the swallowtail butterfly from the Okanagan, but I couldn't decide between two of the photos, so I ended up printing them together.

Both on 13x19 Exhibition Fiber using an Epson 3880.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Flower Power

Our summers may be short, but it sure makes me appreciate them. I'm also lucky to work at Innovation Place where they have such wonderful gardens. Just recently they've added some green wall panels. I love succulents and they certainly improve the otherwise rather stark second floor patios.


It's all in the details:


Down by the pond I couldn't resist taking more bumblebee photos:


and a butterfly that happened by:


and the flowers themselves are a delight:


These were all taken with the little RX100ii

View all 21 photos as a slideshow or overview