Sunday, July 26, 2015

Flight Visualization

Doarama provides cool 3D visualizations from GPS data. Here's my long flight near Vernon, BC. (If the embedded view doesn't work you can see it on their site)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Print of the Week

blazing fall color

Another one from our Kanchenjunga trek in Nepal last fall. The sun on the bright yellow leaves against the shaded background made a striking contrast.

See also past Print of the Week posts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fishing Spider Nursery

Fishing spiders lay their eggs in a ball that they then carry around with them. When the eggs are ready to hatch the female builds and guards a "nursery" web where the baby spiders are protected from predators and perhaps can also find food trapped by the web. A single egg sac may produce over 1000 spiderlings.

fishing spider nursery

The big spider on the left side on the outside of the web is momma. Inside the web is the remains of the egg sac. It's hard to see in the web version of this photo, but if you look closely at the top of the egg sac, you can see the baby spiders. There are several insects trapped on the outside of the web, mostly dragonflies. Momma is feeding on one of the dragonflies in this photo.

Immature fishing spiders hibernate over the winter and then mature and mate in the spring. They can produce two or three batches of eggs over the summer.

Note: This is not the same female that I took photos of with her egg sac. That one is at the other end of the pond and is still carrying around her egg sac. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Print of the Week

Our living room window faces the sunset, but there are so many trees (and houses) that it's hard to get a good view. The best I can do is shoot through the trees and make them part of the composition. Usually I print photos that I took some time ago, but sometimes it's fun to print an image right away. This is from last night.

sunset through trees

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blossoms and Bugs

It's hard for me to walk through the gardens at Innovation Place without seeing something I want to photograph. These photos are from several different sessions.

I was eating lunch by the pond when I noticed this flower in a spot of sunlight.


And then beside it, a less colorful flower, but with a harvestman in it (not to mention a fly in the next flower). One of several arthropods known as "daddy long legs", harvestmen are arachnids, but not technically spiders.

flower and harvestman

The water lilies are flowering as well, wonderful splashes of color in the pond.

water lily


I'm a sucker for the hibiscus flowers as well, not so much the showy petals as the colorful details of the stigma and stamen.

Hibiscus flower

I keep looking, but I haven't seen many fishing spiders this year, mostly just a few small ones. I have spotted this larger one several times in the same area (at least I assume it's the same one). It's now guarding a ball of eggs. You have to move slowly when you approach and photograph them or else they dive and hide underwater.

fishing spider

On the other hand, there are an abundance of dragonflies around, and maybe not coincidentally, not many mosquitoes. There are obviously dragonfly larvae in the pond since I see their exuva on the reeds (the skin they shed when they crawl out of the water and become dragonflies).

dragonfly exuvia

I found this dragonfly soon after emerging, still drying and "inflating" its wings. Both the larvae and the adults are fearsome predators. The adults are amazing fliers, it's estimated they can accelerate in a straight line up to 4 g's and pull up to 9 g's when they turn in pursuit of prey. Fighter pilots eat your hearts out!

newly emerged dragonfly

As with most of my Innovation Place and walking to work photos, these were all taken with the little Sony RX100 that I keep in my pack. It does an amazingly good job for a tiny little camera.

See all 13 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Print of the Week

"The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
- Alberto Giacometti


This is another photo of the succulent flower, only deliberately out of focus, making it mostly abstract. (But at least not black and white!)

Normally I'm trying for the sharpest image I can get, but when I was shooting these flowers I noticed that it looked interesting when it was out of focus, so I shot a few images that way.

I can't decide if I think it's "good" or not. I like the colors, and the contrast, and the shapes, the vague suggestion of leaves and a flower. On the other hand, what's the value in a blurry picture of a flower?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Flying Practice

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
- Aristotle

A few days ago the wind was right for another practice flying session at our local hill. With the wind from the south we got a break from the smoke from all the forest fires up north.

Shelley prepping to launch

Shelley ready to launch

And a quick video:

We also got out yesterday for a no wind, forward launch practice session at the tiny hill in the park at the end of our block. With practice, we're gradually improving, going from the glider controlling us, to us controlling the glider. As skill improves, frustration decreases, and the enjoyment goes up :-)

PS. While we were practicing our no wind forward launches, first a group of pelicans flew over with their effortless graceful flight, and next the Snowbirds air force demo team blasted by (airshow is on). I felt like an ugly duckling in comparison!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Close to Home

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them. ”
- Matisse

Earlier in the summer we had bought an arrangement of succulents from Solar Gardens at the Farmers Market. Although we don't tend to have very green thumbs they've actually done quite well. Maybe they like the warm weather. Shelley asked me if I'd photographed the flowers on them, but I hadn't even noticed them. Probably because I tend to see them when I'm going to and from work and they're only open in the middle of the day. They're not very big but they are pretty, and the bright color contrasts nicely with the green of the rest of the plant.

succulent flower

succulent flower

While I was at it I took photos of some of the other succulents in the arrangement.



Several years ago we had a bunch of native plants added to our flower beds. They didn't all survive, but the ones that did seem to be doing quite well. Here's one that's flowering right now. Of course, I've forgotten what kinds they are!


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Photos of the Day

A couple more shots from the gardens at Innovation Place. I took these a few weeks ago but hadn't got around to posting them.

The bees seem to like these flowers as much as I do. The flowers don't last that long but every year I seem to get a shot like this.

bee enjoying flower

And who can resist the irises.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Prints of the Week

The images I chose to print this week are both black and white, and fairly abstract. There goes 90% of the audience! As usual with my black and white images, these didn't have a lot of color to start with.

The first is a close up of tree bark at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Phoenix in Arizona. (Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.)


The second was taken in one of the conservatories at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

monochrome leaves

I hung them side by side on one wall. They are quite different, but somehow they fit together. Both are plants, but the bark is less identifiable.

For color prints I use Lightroom's color management (with a custom profile from a colormunki) but for black and white I tend to use the Epson 3880's Advance B&W Photo mode since it seems to do a slightly better job. The 3880 has been the printer of choice for a lot of photographers for many years. Recently Epson finally came out with a new model - the P800. It's not enough of an improvement to dump my 3880 but if you're looking for a printer (for photographs) the P800 would be my recommendation. (or the P600 for 13" wide). Canon also has good photo printers, but I don't have any personal experience with them. There are times when I wish I could print bigger, but the cost of the printers, paper, and ink goes up significantly and the printers also get too big to put on a table and require special stands and lots of space. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hyde Park

I got a chance to visit the Hyde Park naturalized wetland area in Saskatoon today. It's a large area and I didn't get to see all of it, but I really enjoyed what I did see. Their were lots of birds around including red-winged blackbirds, ducks, grebes, terns, and herons.

I'm not a good judge of how "natural" it is, but it's certainly wilder than the mowed grass playing fields in the same area.


The red-winged blackbirds seemed busy collecting food, presumably for their young. The flashier males didn't cooperate so all the pictures are of the drab (in comparison) females. If you zoom in you can see the mouthful of bugs this one has collected. What I want to know is how they pick up so many without dropping any!

red-winged blackbird (female)

Nice to see all the wild flowers.



There were lots of blue damselflies around. They didn't like to sit still to be photographed either! (damselflies hold their wings together at rest, whereas dragonflies hold them spread out)

blue damselfly

Still beautiful despite all the smoke in the air (from forest fires) and the resulting gray skies.


Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

See all 17 photos as a slideshow or overview

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Kamloops Wildlife Park

Clover the Kermode bear

On our recent trip we made a stop in Kamloops to visit Shelley's niece. And not surprisingly (for us) we went to the wildlife park. There are wildlife photographers that I really admire that only photograph wild animals. I wish I could say the same, but unfortunately I wouldn't get to photograph most of these animals if it wasn't for zoos.

One of the stars of the park is Clover, a white Kermode or spirit bear. These are actually black bears, which, despite their name, come in a range of colors from white to brown to black. The white Kermode form is from a recessive gene. (They are not albino.)

At first Clover was sitting beside a tree, partly hidden. We watched for a while and were about to leave when he got up and ambled directly toward us. When he reached the fence near us he took one good sniff and then headed off in a different direction. People probably aren't a very interesting smell to a bear in a zoo. I took some photos but it's difficult shooting through chain link fence.

Clover the Kermode bear

It was a hot day and he ambled over to his pond and sat down in the water to cool off. This was better for photography because there was glass to look through (albeit dirty). But he just sat in the water with his back to us. We started to leave once more but then he started to roll around on his back in the water so I went back and took more photos (like the one at the top).

I think whoever gave this llama its haircut had a sense of humor!

bad hair day

I did photograph some unofficial "wild" residents of the park, including insects, birds, and marmots.



As soon as I got close this raven flew over to inspect me. Because it was so hot many of the birds had their mouths open "panting" to cool off. (Birds don't sweat.)

curious raven

There were peacocks roaming around the park. I love their bright colors!


We walked up the hill behind the park to a small waterfall for a cool shady break from the heat.

mossy rock beside waterfall

If you're in the area and like this kind of thing I'd definitely recommend the Kamloops Wildlife Park.

See all 19 photos as a slideshow or overview