Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prints of the Week

A couple more from Nepal.


I liked the wet texture and color of the rock, the green of the moss and plant, and the water flowing in the background. This was 1/30th of a second to blur the water, but still reasonable to handhold with image stabilization.


I went with black and white on this one since the color didn't add much - mostly just the brown grass of autumn. Without the color I could boost the contrast and make it more striking. We saw a lot of waterfalls on our Kanchenjunga trek but I found it difficult to capture the feel of them. I think the fog helps make the height apparent in this one.

Yesterday at the pop-up Etsy market someone told me I should be there with my photographs. I'm happy to share my photos and I certainly appreciate it when people like them, but I'm not that motivated to try to sell them. I just enjoy creating images for its own sake. I do have to be in the right frame of mind, though. I went to print something yesterday, browsed through photos, made a few test prints, but just couldn't get excited about any of them. Today I was more in the mood :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once a Runner

"Everything's a story. Dumb stuff happens in your life and you think it's dumb stuff, and then it turns out that it was your history, your life happening." - Again to Carthage
I just finished reading John L. Parker Jr's running fiction trilogy - Racing the Rain, Once a Runner, and Again to Carthage. I've been meaning to read them for a while. Once a Runner was the first published and is somewhat of a classic in the running fiction genre. Racing the Rain is the most recently published, but it's actually the first in the story timeline. I decided to start with it, and I'd say that's a good way to go.

I really enjoyed all of them, as evidenced by my reading them back to back. I saw reviewers complaining there was other stuff in addition to running, which to me is a good thing, I'm not sure how you'd make a story with nothing but running!

This is running at a high level, not your recreational hobby. I've never been involved in competitive running at any level, but I still found it interesting, although slightly depressing. You know that top athletes run much faster than normal human beings, but I never thought about how much faster. A pace that is pushing it for me is a painfully slow training pace for these guys. And the sheer volume of training is incredible. It's amazing that the human body can handle it. This is fiction, but I suspect that this part is fairly accurate. The author was a competitive runner himself.

There are lots of funny parts in the books that made me laugh at loud. The main character admits he's somewhat of a kook. The descriptions of the races are exciting, and by the time you get to them you really care how they turn out.

The main character grows up in Florida and starts out as a basketball fanatic, and only reluctantly starts competing in running. In Once a Runner he's running the mile. In Again to Carthage he makes a come back running the marathon.

If you're at all a runner I think these books will resonate with you, and even if you're not a runner I still think you'll find them a good read. Definitely recommended.
“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” - Once a Runner

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fog, flowers, and fall colors

Thursday, relaxing on the grass after a run, watching the river go by, I heard the distinctive sound of sandhill cranes. I lay back and looked up. There was a large group of them flying by overhead. Most of them were in an organized "V" but there were a few misfits that refused to get in line. Periodically the group would turn, losing their formation briefly but soon regaining it. A group of cranes is known as a "construction", "dance", "sedge", "siege", or "swoop".

Later, walking across the park I disturbed 8 or 10 northern flickers. I see them occasionally, but usually only one at a time. Maybe they are migrating. Although they are a kind of woodpecker, they often feed on the ground, which is where I found them. As I approached they flew up into the trees, displaying their white rumps. After I passed they descended back to the ground to resume feeding. When I returned a bit later they were still busy pecking in the grass. Maybe the recent rain had brought out some kind of bugs for them to eat.

Friday, walking to work, I first spotted several pelicans on the river, mixed in with a group of cormorants. Next I encountered a pair of belted kingfishers. Their chattering cry was what I noticed first, then I spotted them flying. They were hard to see in the trees, but one of them perched on a branch sticking up from the river where it was more visible.

Walking home I spotted a couple of blue jays. Their genus "Cyanocitta" is Greek for blue chatterer. And their specific name "cristata" means crested. I always liked these crested blue chatterers.

I didn't get photos of any of these birds, but I did take another assortment of shots on the way to work. The early morning fog on the river was what first caught my eye and prompted me to dig out the camera.

early morning river fog

There wasn't much wind and the still water reflected the rocks beside the river.

rocks and bridge

The bright morning sun back lit the leaves.

leaves by the river

Climbing the stairs to the railway bridge the sun was reflecting brilliantly off the river and through the trees.


I got fascinated by the water drops on the spider webs in the grass and the reflections in each drop.

raindrops on spider web

There are still a few roses, also covered in water drops this morning.

raindrops on roses

The pond was in fine form with the fall colors reflecting from the still water dappled with water lilies.

autumn reflections

I was commenting that the fall colors meant winter wasn't far away. The person I was talking to said they didn't mind winter. I don't mind the cold and snow so much, but I really miss the plants and flowers and birds and insects. Winter in Saskatoon is slim pickings for a nature photographer. I can only take so many photos of snow and ice and frost!

autumn reflections

The water lilies always seem to flower in the middle of the pond where I can't get close enough to photograph them. But this one was near enough to somewhat precariously lean out to get a decent shot. I love the contrast between the bright flower and the dark water.

water lily

We haven't had a hard frost yet, so the dragonflies (and the odd mosquito for them to hunt) are still around. Its wings are looking a little worse for wear though.


A good crop of berries - I predict the waxwings will be paying a visit.


And don't worry, I did still make it to work in time for a 9am meeting :-)

See all 23 photos as a slideshow or overview

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

After the Rain

After multiple days of rain, unusual for Saskatoon, the weather finally improved enough to lure me outside for a few photos.

The water drops on the succulents were like shimmering jewels but I'm afraid I didn't capture them very well.


It's the end of the season for flowers, but there are still a few around.




I struggled to catch the ornamental grass as it was waving around in the wind!


See all 9 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Way Home

From Washington we had a choice of routes home. Checking them out in Google maps I realized one of the routes went by a potential paragliding site in Saskatchewan that I'd scouted in the spring. Just for fun I checked the wind forecast for when we'd be driving by. Amazingly, it was showing light winds from the right direction. Based on my checking in the past, this was fairly rare, so we figured we might as well drive home that way and check it out.

Our first night's stop was Missoula where we had a nice supper at the Red Bird Restaurant and Wine Bar.

Although a lot of the fires were in Washington, if anything the smoke got worse as we went. Southwest Saskatchewan was the worst of all. We woke up to a layer of ash on the car, and scenery like this:

forest fire smoke

We got in a couple of flights from the site I'd found. Although the total vertical is about 200m (660ft) the slope gets pretty shallow after the first 100m. We tried to get some ridge soaring but the wind wasn't strong enough to stay up. I really like the adventure of locating a suitable spot and flying off it. We found a good open grassy slope to take off from, and there was lots of clear pasture to land in.

There were lots of hawks around. When you drive by they calmly sit there and ignore you. But if you stop the car and try to take photographs they immediately take flight. This was a lucky shot just as it took off from the pole. Now if only we could fly like these guys!