Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Photos of 2016

We had a big snowfall the other day and Innovation Place was plastered. The building was quiet on the last work day of 2016 with lots of people on holidays and I had fun taking a few photos on my lunch break. Half of these were taken with my iPhone 7, the other half with my Lumix ZS100 - can you tell which are which? The iPhone with its smaller sensor has more depth of focus, but they both do a fine job.

icy windows

icy windows

icy windows

icy windows

What do you think - black and white, or color?

icy windows

These trees are just outside my office window. I enjoy watching the trees and their feathered visitors - mostly magpies this time of year.

late light

I took lots of photos this year - roughly 21,000. That was a record for me. I now have about 130,000 photos in my digital library. Thank goodness I'm not trying to manage physical slides or negatives!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


steam lit by low sun

Usually at some point over Christmas I bundle up and escape outdoors to take some photographs. I wouldn't say winter is my favorite subject, but it has its attractions.

Although the bright sun was tempting earlier in the afternoon, I waited to go out until the sun got low and there was some color in the sky.

low sun on snow

There were large numbers of ducks on the river (Goldeneye?) but they swam away when I arrived. There were Canada Geese around till recently but they disappeared soon after the weather got really cold.

ducks (Goldeneye?)

The water level in the river dropped recently, leaving the ice shelved above the water. That meant you had to be a little careful where you walked, but it also created lines of stubby icicles.





If the ice is dirty, sometimes black and white will hide it.



bare trees at sunset

See all 25 photos as a slideshow or overview

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas

sun and snow

Another annual orgy of excess consumption has passed. I was going to say "thank god" but religion lost this event to big business a long time ago. Of course, it's not over - Boxing Day (or Week) is one of the biggest shopping times of the year.

sun and snow

Otherwise sane people tell me we need to shop and "consume" to support the "economy". I'm not sure why it's so desirable to prop up the ailing fossil fueled monster that is destroying the planet. Is this conveyer belt from third world factories to first world land fills really the best system we can come up with? If so, that's pretty sad.

sun and snow

The photos are from my home office window. I glanced outside and a slight breeze was blowing the snow and frost from the trees and making it sparkle against the bright sun. It was hard to capture the effect. We almost didn't have a white Christmas this year but the snow finally started falling Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Print of the Week

turtle & reflections

This was one from the Aqua Terra Zoo in Vienna. Two favorite things - turtles and reflections. I like that it's somewhat abstract, and yet still has a fair bit of detail in the turtle. And I like the shades of green from the pool reflecting the vegetation all around it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Road Rant

cold morning for the geese

There are a lot of reasons I don't like automobiles. One of them is that they have a bizarre tendency to turn people into jerks. Rudeness that people would never dream of face to face is somehow natural when they're in a faceless vehicle.

I'm lucky that my walk to work only crosses one vaguely main road. Most of the way is on the Meewasin trail, avoiding cars altogether. The other morning when I reached Spadina it was relatively busy. I waited patiently for a gap in traffic. But it was somewhere in the neighborhood of -35 with the wind chill so I wasn't keen on standing there too long. Eventually there was a decent gap in traffic and I started to cross the road. Just to be clear, not only was I at an intersection, but it was also a marked crosswalk. By no stretch of the imagination did I step out into the middle of traffic. (I'm not that stupid!) The roads were not icy. The nearest approaching car was about half a block away. He would have to slow down slightly to give me time to cross, but wouldn't even need to stop. But as soon as I stepped off the curb he started honking at me. I pointed at the crosswalk sign. He kept honking. I got annoyed so I stopped in the middle of the road forcing him to stop. I pointed again at the crosswalk sign. I didn't expect an apology, but I did expect that he'd shut up.

I continued across the road thinking that was the end of it, but as he drove by he rolled down his window and yelled at me not to cross when there were cars around. Seriously? Obviously he didn't like anything slowing down his driving. And I'm sure he didn't appreciate that I tried to imply that he was in the wrong (by pointing at the crosswalk sign).

You'd think people would have a little empathy or even respect for someone walking, especially at these temperatures. I should know better. In a place where there are more cars than people, more parking lots than parks, someone without a vehicle is obviously utterly down and out. Why would you have the least shred of respect for them. Especially when such a low life gets in your way.

I have to laugh when I compare it to crossing roads in Asia. If you waited for a gap in traffic there you'd never get across the street. Your only option is to appear confident and step out into the maelstrom. Any sign of weakness or hesitation and no one will slow down.  But nor do drivers throw a temper tantrum about pedestrians having the nerve to cross the road. 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Print of the Week

Mandarin duck

This is from the little zoo in Monaco. Great detail in the duck in the large print. And of course I love the reflections of the background.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

River Walk

This time of year isn't very colorful. No flowers or green leaves, just bare tree branches against gray skies. But there are still things to take photos of.

early morning by the river

It was still quite dark when I started my walk but soon enough the sun came up.

sunrise over the river

Of course, I had to take some reflection photos


These photos were all taken with my new iPhone. After four years with my 5 I upgraded to a 7 plus. I've been making a point of taking photos with it but up till today I hadn't really got much that I was happy with. I'm used to having a zoom lens, and using it a lot, so the wide angle of camera phones is little hard to get used to. The iPhone 7 plus has dual cameras, but the so called "telephoto" lens is only 50mm equivalent, which in photography would be considered a "normal" lens, not telephoto. You can zoom digitally, but that's really just cropping.

As with most small cameras, you have to use wide angle to shoot up close. But it does a reasonable job.

autumn leaf

It was a little colder this morning and there was more ice along the river.


One thing I've never liked about phone photography, especially in the winter with gloves and cold hands, is that they are too slippery and hard to hold. And, unfortunately, the Lightroom app doesn't support using the volume buttons as the shutter release so you're stuck with tapping on the screen with cold fingers. The new iPhone 7 is supposed to be water resistant but I still don't think it would be a good idea to drop it in the river!

beavers at work

One of the nice features is that you can shoot raw with third party camera apps. I've been using the Lightroom app because I'm already in that ecosystem. But if you don't already have a Lightroom subscription then you're probably better off with something like ProCam. One of the nice things I discovered is that if you zoom/crop on the iPhone, it still keeps the entire photo and you can re-crop later. Similarly, any processing you do with Lightroom on the phone can be readjusted on the desktop Lightroom. Another thing I like is that you explicitly choose which lens to use, whereas you have to trust the Apple camera app to choose the right one for you.

snow on moss

See all 17 photos as a slideshow or overview

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seasonal Disorder

Guess when this photo was taken?

You'd think it was around the same time of year as this one:

But the first one was taken in November, whereas the second one was taken in April.

Obviously our warm autumn confused this plant and it "thought" it was spring and time to flower. Of course, now it's below freezing all day and those flowers aren't going to go much further.

On the positive side, I assume that missing flowering next spring won't kill the plant, whereas if its leaves had started to come out, it would have been a more serious problem since it might not have survived a summer without leaves.

Luckily most trees and bushes don't seem to have been "fooled". I'm not sure what was different with this one.

As the climate continues to change we will no doubt see more effects like this.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jackrabbit on the Run


Almost abstract, and yet recognizable. Completely blurred, but I kind of like it.

Taken with my iPhone, although that's not really relevant. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vienna, Austria

Despite the title, few of my photos are recognizably Vienna, other than the ones of the ornate St. Stephens cathedral. As you can tell by my photos, I'm much more interested in nature than the works of man people.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

Most natural history museums are rather dreary collections of dusty stuffed animals. The Vienna Naturhistorisches Museum has its share of that, but it is redeemed by being in a magnificent huge old building and having a lot of other exhibits besides stuffed animals. (Vienna seems to have the most magnificent huge old buildings of any city I've seen.)

On the way to the NHM we stumbled on the Schmetterlinghaus butterfly house. We always enjoy these so we were happy to discover it. But we were quite disappointed. It's not very big, and there weren't many butterflies. The paths were narrow, which meant there was little room for the crowds of people and rampaging children, especially when everyone tried to congregate around the few butterflies and get close enough to take photos with their wide angle phone cameras. On top of that, my camera was cold from being outside and so it immediately fogged up and didn't really clear until just as we were leaving. The one half decent photo I got shows another thing I didn't like - most of the flowers were fake.


I was happier taking pictures of the fall colors in the park next door. Three guys on a park bench thought I was crazy taking so many photographs of trees and leaves, and that Shelley was an amazingly patient tolerant spouse. Both are true :-)

fallen leaves

Gingko leaves

I thought these leaves looked familiar with their triangular shape. When I got home and did some research I found they were Gingko (also known as Maidenhair) trees. It is the only species left in its division with fossils dating back 270 million years. It's native to China but is now widely cultivated. One of the reasons they are planted is for their bright yellow fall colors. (They're also quite hardy.) They were familiar since Innovation Place has the only outdoor Gingko tree in Saskatoon.

We also visited the Aqua Terra House of the Sea Zoo, in a unique old building that was originally a World War II anti-flak tower. It had several walk through areas where the animals and birds were in the open with you. Although these larger areas sometimes make it harder to spot the inhabitants (especially the birds) I like the more natural environment and the chance to take photos without glass or bars. The entire zoo is indoors, which we appreciated since it was cold outside but that meant the usual struggle with taking photographs in dim light. Some of these are quite grainy although that doesn't show up as much in these small versions.

These San Francisco garter snakes had quite different coloring than the ones we get here.

San Francisco garter snake

Always tricky to catch the birds as they flit about. And often they are above you and silhouetted against the bright sky.


This shot combined two of my favorites - turtles and reflections :-)

turtle & reflections

I like the pattern and texture of this next one. Can you guess what it is?

back of crocodile

People watching.

Cotton-top tamarin

For some reason I didn't manage many good ones of the aquarium exhibits. This one looks like a Northern Pike. (Despite its appearance, it was alive and under water.)


Chameleons are another favorite. I love their swiveling eyes and the slow measured way they move with their unique grasping feet.


Shelley wanted to visit the big outdoor Christmas market in front of city hall. Personally, I had no desire to hang out in the market - it was full of mass produced junk and unhealthy fast food and wall to wall crowds. The only good part was that they sold various hot punches, mulled wines, and ciders. The price includes a deposit for the reusable ceramic mug which is refunded when you return it. (Or you can keep the mug as a souvenir like Shelley did.) While Shelley toured the market I wandered in the nearby park and took more photos of the fall colors.

autumn leaves

sculpture through leaves

We also visited the main outdoor Tiergarten Schönbrunn Zoo, which claims to be the oldest zoo in the world. We enjoyed our visit, although like any outdoor zoo, it would be better in the summer. Quite a few of the enclosures allowed photographing without glass or bars which I always appreciate.

Palm house

I think of flamingos as a warm climate bird, but these didn't seem to mind the cold weather. (I see from the distribution map that they some live in cooler climates.) If you zoom in on this photo you can see the sieve-like edge of its bill that is used to filter feed. Curiously, I see flamingos are related to grebes.


The red panda was familiar from "Phoenix" at the Saskatoon Zoo. It was fun to watch them out wandering around. Quite the claws!

Red panda

The cheetah was also a cooperative subject. I'm not sure what it spotted that made him crouch and raise the fur on the back of its neck.


Hooded crows were common in Corsica but I never managed to get any decent photos of them. Finally these ones bathing stuck around long enough for me to photograph. This one was still wet from its bath.

wet Hooded crow

The spectacled bears were out and about as well.

Spectacled bear

Interesting painting in the monkey house.

painting in the monkey house

And that was the end of our trip, from Vienna we flew home.

See all 57 photos as a slideshow or overview