Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Don't put your camera away for the Winter

While most people who ride bicycles will put them away, and people swap from roller skates to ice skates, yeah I know rollerblades replaced roller skates, but roller skates does rhyme better....  Your camera doesn't need to go away with them.

There are a couple of things you do need to consider when it's cold out though.  First of all, batteries don't like cold, so you may want to keep a second camera battery in an inside pocket, even a cold battery when it's brought into a warm place, can regain some power.  If your camera and batteries are older, than you may want to replace the batteries with new ones.  I always put the date on a battery when it enters service, as I can have several batteries that look the same, and not remember which one is the oldest.

Second of all, cameras don't like wet, cold air holds less moisture than warm air, a cold surface will chill the air immediately next to it, so don't open your camera bag until it has had time to warm up.  This will keep moisture from condensing on the camera and lenses, it will condense on the outside of the bag instead.  The best cold weather camera hat I ever had, was the old Konica TC, the mechanical parts didn't seem to mind the cold, and it worked fine using Sunny 16 type exposure, even with colour negative film.  The FC-1 hated the cold, the 300D didn't seem to mind it, except when the batteries were old, they tended to go flat fairly quickly.  LCD screens are okay to about -20℃ or about  -4℉, although, you can keep a chemical hand warmer in your bag, and just take the camera out, make your shots, and back into the bag, or keep the camera inside clothing.

The image this time, is from the great ice storm of December 2013, when most of southern Ontario was covered in ice, which led to wide scale power outages, although the storm occurred on December 20th, it was New Years before the power was on everywhere.  About a week before we moved, the new house had a total outage of maybe 10 minutes, the old one was out for over a week.  This little twig got a coating of ice. 

I hope to get another posting in, this month, will see you then.  Not sure about December yet, December can be brutally busy, I will try to get in two, but may only get in one. 

See you then,  W.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Posting less frequently.....

This is a busy time of year, with a lot of stuff happening, so I will be moving to a less frequent posting schedule. 

Voluntary blogs run into the problem of, you eventually run out of things you want to say, on a regular basis, this leads to you heading in two directions, you either move to a less frequent schedule, or you add some off topic stuff, like politics.  Since this isn't a paid site, and it doesn't currently derive income from advertising, I am moving to a less frequent schedule.  I will try to post something a couple of times a month, one at the end of the month, the other in the middle, in January when there is more time available, I may post mote.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Professional Slide shows in the old days

Last week we looked at digital slide shows, and you could have music and pre-built narration and everything.  This has been possible since at least the early 1950's, but was much more difficult.  You needed a tape player and two projectors, the slides would alternate from one projector to the other, professional grade slide projectors could be purchased that had a fade capability, as one faded out, the other faded in.   This could be based on time, or using an audio tone with a special remote.  A tone would then operate the projector, some people used separate audio tracks, one was connected to the sound system, the other to the projectors, so the tone was not audible.  Of course if you dropped the tray of slides, then you needed to start over, although smart people would number the slides, for example 1-14 would be in tray  1, slide number 14.

Many people in building such setups would, have copies made of the slides, and only the copies would be projected, as the intense light passing through the slides would cause them to fade over time, plus you protected the original slides from damage in handling.  Projectors setups needed to be perfectly registered so the images would line up.  A target slide could be placed in each projector and then they would be lined up, and re-targeting would be required for each venue as a change in the distance from projector to screen would throw off the targeting. 

All to say, it's a little like digital printing, it's easier and often faster then the old days, but it's incredible what was possible in the bad old days.

This weeks image is from last year, of a mother goose and her gosling.   If I recall correctly this was taken at the Toronto Islands.  You almost lose the gosling in the grass, but not quite.

I know, quite short this week, but that's all for now.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Slide shows

Back in the old days of film, producing a high end slide show was not easy, we often ended up watching the slides from Uncle Howard's Trip to Cucamonga with Aunt Helene.  Half the slides were mispositioned, because Howard dropped the tray of slides out in the driveway, and now his commentary after 7 bottles of beer is closer to a slurred verbal diarrhea,  that goes on far too long, and  how did he manage to create 85,000,000 slides and cut off part of Aunt Helene in every shot.  I think only 4 or 5 are actually in focus. 

We can do a lot better digitally these days. software like Openshot can be used to create wonderful slide shows, you can give each slide a certain amount of time, say 10 seconds, then use a professional style fade or wipe to the next image, rather than a black out.  A fade is where one image gradually replaces another and a wipe is where one seems to roll over the other.  If using wipes, don't use too many different ones, or you can make your audience "sea sick".  You can use a simple microphone to add commentary over the slides, a good way to do this, is to watch the pictures a few times, and write some notes, as to when you want to speak, and what you want to say, then script the show, if using a microphone, you want it on a stand, about 30cm away from where you're sitting.  You can also add a music track, don't use songs from the radio or a CD, as it creates copyright issues, there are places to get music for this, Youtube has an audio library of songs you can use, the ideal is to load the commentary into software like Audacity, then mix the tracks, for example you can reduce the volume of your commentary when not speaking, to remove background noise, or have the music lower below your speaking, and then higher when you're not speaking.  If using several songs, your can "balance" the volume between tracks that were recorded at different levels.  Once the audio track is completed, you can add it to the video.  You can also add titles to your show. 

Of course this does nothing for images that are out of focus or that have the subjects head off, but nothing will fix that, better then a good edit. I may do an example slide show, and add a link here later on, but for now we need to make due with just a photo.  If I do a show it will probably be posted on Youtube with a link added here in the comments.

This little guy resting on a not quite  open rose from 2008 will need to do.  I think it was a backyard shot, as we often have flowers in the back yard and they are typically easy to obtain. 

I think that is all for this week,


Sunday, October 08, 2017

A week off....

Occasionally I will be taking a week off, it is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so I will be taking the week off.  See you back here next week.  The next break will be 2 weeks at Christmas time....

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Some newer stuff

Sort of a continuation of last week, we have a series of images, one or two from each year from 2011 to 2017.  Each of these images has some meaning, as I try to remember what I was working on, when I took the image.  Some of these will have pretty exact descriptions.  There will be a slightly different format this time, I made the pictures a little larger.


This first one was taken off a small road that is near Wiarton, ON.  It can be best described by what it actually is, an honest to goodness swamp.  The water level is about 3cm below the road, the ground is about 10cm below the road.  In the spring, the road floods and the town puts out signs that the road will be underwater.  It's a gravel road, called Zion Church Road.  The flooding actually doesn't hurt it.  When it dries out, the stone dust and gravel hardens so that it's harder then concrete.  Never knew when I lived there that this is actually called the Gleason Brook Management Area. 

This next one  was taken on Flowerpot Island, although known mostly for it's rock formations that look like giant flower pots, there is a lighthouse and I found this guy near the lighthouse where there is a small cafe that had some lilac bushes near it.  This guy was just chilling on a leaf.  I did for the record take some pictures of the flower pots.  This is part of the Fathom Five National Park, which is just off The Bruce Peninsula from Tobermory,  There are a number of boats that ferry people to Flowerpot, leaving from Tobermory, some of them are cruise type boats that cover portons of Fathom Five.


At one point in things I decided I didn't want to carry the big 300D everywhere and picked up a cheap little point and shoot, a Canon A810. I find that as a camera it is dreadfully slow.  Images were not that bad, providing it was fairly bright daylight.  Many of these little cameras have that problem, a very limited range of lens stops, mean that if light is a little lower, you end up with longer then you would like exposures.  IIRC This was taken at Lion's Head a small village north of Wiarton, that is part of the town of Northern Bruce Peninsula, which like South Bruce Peninsula was a town that was a merger of a number of smaller places.  Hard to tell but the temperature on this day was -10C, and yes that IS open water.

After we moved back to Toronto, in the spring is the cherry blossom festival, one of the trails actually leads to a swan nesting area, there are a number of ducks and other waterfowl that nest there.  I believe that in 2014, the cherry blossoms were a little late, but the Swans and other birds were pretty much on regular schedule.  This is a mute swan, and they are not native to North America, but rather from Europe.  They have had large increases in population, and in North America are consider an invasive species.  They still take a nice image though.

This next one is actually a film image taken with the FC-1.  I know it was the FC-1 because the TC was fully retired by this point.  Film would be Fuji Superia looks like 200, as I had a bunch of rolls in the freezer and it's a colour image.  I don't remember much about it, I think I had a few things on this roll, and I think I was just using it up at this point.  Currently if I decide to shoot some film, I need to find some, and a lab to process it, and that would be a big hassle.  I actually planned to sell the camera a couple of years ago, but it's resale value is just about zero, so I held onto it.  This is really quite sad, the camera is nearly 40 years old, and still works amazingly well, just it's not worth anything anymore.  I think on this one I used an old numbering system, because I forgot I had changed it.

While cameras generally don't like getting wet, cloudy days give a more even light, and sometimes a natural watering adds a whole new dimension to an image.  I think it does here, especially since the leaves actually appear dry.  This is a little false though, because there is a massive cedar hedge that shelters these leaves somewhat, so they probably are dry, but the flower was further out, and got wet.   This one was easy to find, it was actually in my backyard.  Backyard flowers in large flowerpots can make great images, because you can turn the flowerpot in order to get a better image if you can't put the camera in the right place.

I debated for a while about actually publishing this one in colour, as the light part of the wings is a bright blue, but the blue would draw the eye away from everything else.  You might not notice the dots on the wings or the veins in the wings, if all you see is bright blotch of blue.  It's an image I might just try and do in colour at another point, and see what people think. 

I intentionally didn't include this years as the year is continuing on.  This is about all for this week, and we may just revisit this butterfly to see if it really is better in monochrome or colour. 


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Why I like Nature Photography

Much of the modern world is stressful, and that stress builds up in our bodies and in our minds, and this needs to be at times released.  For me, I find that being in nature, a good way to relieve that stress, and it is something I try to do a few times a year.  Often city dwellers, here in Toronto, don't have to go all that far to find nature, there are a number of large parks in the city, where you can find nature, often in your own neighbourhood.

This is another multi-image posting, and these are all images taken between 2003 and 2010, I will add some commentary to these, where I have it, and where I took it, if I remember....
This is the oldest image in this series, taken with the Konica TC on Agfa Vista 200 Colour film, it was taken of a "funny" tree in G Ross Lord Park in Toronto, I would bike through to the North End of the Park sit under this tree for a while, then head back to my home that was about 4km to the south.  Not more than 200m to the East of this, is a large industrial plant, and 100m to the North is a busy Arterial road.

I have a few images of this tree, scanned on an Epson flat bed.  You may notice that some of the copyright notices are larger and some are smaller, I need to change this, as the font is a fixed size, and it should be a percentage of the image size.  So it's smaller on higher resolution images, and larger on smaller resolution images...

I don't know if this tree is still there, as it's been many years since I lived there, and it may have been cut down by now, there have been some big ice storms, and I don't think the bumps on the trunk made for a strong tree.  Some day I need to return there and see, if it's still there.


This next image is another interesting one, it was taken using the Konica FC-1 on Ilford
FP-4  I think it was in Algonquin, as there is a similar image below that was from the same time period that was in Algonquin.  It has a bit of a dreamy effect, which is why I like it.  It's actually the first image on the roll, with a frame number of 0.  An old cataloguing system I used divided film into roll and frame numbers, then I added a different mechanism for digital, and a bunch of years ago, I moved to a single system, leaving the old roll numbers in the negative book, and referencing them in the EXIF data.  Which is how I get some of the data (like camera and film type) without needing to dig out the negatives. 

This is an odd one, it was taken with a Point & Shoot Camera that belonged to my wife, she took thousands of images with it, in Bolivia, during a trip there, I borrowed it, to see how digital might work for me, and it did, so I bought the 300D at Christmas that year.  Again it has a dreamy, kind of feel, partly because it was in the morning of a rather damp day, and there was a lot of moisture in the air.  The day later dried up, and by evening it was very nice out.  I probably took more shots on this day, then I did the rest of the year.  My Brother-in-law was on this trip, and  we left at 5am and were at the park a little after 8, and decided to hit the trails before things got busy,  these images were taken around 9am.

We were there for a long time, in fact we were still shooting at sunset, and the next image was taken at sunset on the same day, I think we got home after 11PM.  By sunset it was starting to cloud over again, the best sunrise and sunset photos need some clouds, and sunlight poking through the cloud deck, are pretty much the ideal.  One of the problems point and shoot cameras, is that you have to take whatever the camera gives you.  I got kinda lucky here, in that it blocked up the shadows, rather then exposing for those and burning the highlights.  I used the digital for this, because I had taken about 4 rolls of film, and had run out.  With some room left on the little digital.  It's one of the benefits of digital, a couple of cards can hold a lot of images.  If I were to have done it again with film, I would have taken about twice as much.

This is a winter one, taken near Ashbridge's bay, in Toronto.  In early to mid winter, Lake Ontario is warmer than the shoreline, and as waves strike the shore, some water is thrown up as tiny droplets, as soon as it hits the land, which is much colder, it freezes.  This was taken with the 300D, which strangely enough didn't mind the cold as much as the FC-1, which was about 25 years old at the time.  This was taken on a very cold, windy and blustery day, even though the timestamp says it was March 3rd....  It was still solidly in winter, and probably around -10C.   
I often tone summer images slightly sepia, and winter ones, slightly cyan, which I did in this case, the bluish tone, makes the image feel colder, where as sepia is a slight warming effect. 

This is another one from G Ross Lord park, which has a creek running through it.  Again the 300D, zoomed in as far as it can with the kit lens.  It's a fall photo, being around this time of year, it's a good imaging time, in that the temps tend to be a little cooler, not this year it's 30℃ as I type this.  Trees still are in nearly full leave, something that will not be the case in a couple of weeks.  As I said earlier, it's been a while since I have been to this park, and I would like to visit again.  This kind of image, is one I like, kinda messy, where it can be difficult to decide what the actual subject is.  It could be the trees at the front, the ones in the back, or the water in the middle.  It's actually supposed to be the water, but you could actually argue it's something else.  You can view it 47 times, and decide it's something else each time. 

Another winter one, the date on this one is Valentines day, there had been thin ice over the top of the lake, when the wind picked up, it was tossed into this messy pile on the shore.  Again to offer a cold feeling I simulated the cyan tone, rather than the brownish sepia tone, I often use.  A  cyan tint in the film days, was commonly done using potassium ferricyanide, and was most commonly used in the production of blueprints.  These days we can do the same thing, by shifting the colour balance in a RGB black and white image.  Much less messy, and you can get the same result over and over again, where as bleaching and dyeing a print, will tend to give different results each time, without laborious notes. 

Okay, the last one for this week, I am debating about doing a similar series for next week, that will consist of some newer stuff, or possibly even older stuff, as I have some going back to the start 40 years ago.....  I suspect this is Limestone, which is fairly soft, and where water can eat away the stone in interesting patterns.  It's Lake Ontario again, but in this case over by the Humber River bridge.  What is strange is that although it appears almost a moonscape, there are massive condo's only 100m away or so, on the other side of a busy arterial road. 

Most of these were taken within a 1/2 hour subway ride, or bicycle ride from where I was living at the time.  Yes it does take a while to get to Algonquin, it's still possible to do as a day trip.  So as we began, you can look at nature very close to home.