Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's taken till now to get a shot of

The tulips are in full bloom and I am loving it! But there's this one. It's, it's, I can barely say it. White.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Looking back a bit

There is no method to my madness when it comes to publishing photos. Sometimes they are hot off the camera sensor. Some might be a few days or weeks old on publish if I've got a set in mind, like the Allium Episode. (I got all confused looking for it, thinking the title was 'the day of the allium'.) Some might languish in the edited folder and never make it to the blog, and I discover it a while later. Sometimes I'll be going back through Lightroom looking for something, find something else, and wonder why I never edited it. Although I've since learned to look at the other photos around ones like that. I once spent some time editing a shot into something really quite nice, only to find the photo I'd taken a moment later was nicer, and already edited using less effort.

Which leads me to my thought of the day, relating to editing photos. I've mentioned that a light touch is necessary when editing flower blossom photos. Some very few of my shots need almost no editing at all, and that usually pleases me. I've been musing over the concept that a photo with less editing is a better photo, but I'm not sure I really believe it. I often see photos that appear to be over-edited, and look un-natural. (I've done this occasionally, for specific artistic reasons, or so I say to myself.)

There are those who would argue that a ray of light landing on a sensor already goes through significant computer processing before I even see the image on the camera screen, let alone the full sized computer screen. More editing in Lightroom is just more computer manipulation.

My thinking is that if I see the image in my head before I take the shot, and tweak the camera settings to better match that shot, then less editing would seem to indicate that I'm getting better at using my camera.

This is all quite aside from what makes a 'better' photo. Photographers and artists and viewers have been arguing about that since it was invented.

Your thoughts? Is less editing better?

Anyways, here's a photo from a week ago. I've no idea why I didn't include it when I did purple earlier this week.

This one didn't exist when I did yellow.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Somehow, a simple drop of water changes everything about a flower photo.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Two experimental trees, and Linda

There is a lovely tree near the Reader Rock Gardens. Some of my local readers know it. I've been wanting to get some photos of it for a while. Going into work on Friday I noticed it's blossoming. I've got a shot in mind. I'd love to shoot it in morning mist.

On Friday I wanted to sleep in, and that sort of happened. The light was nice so we zoomed out to try to capture some photos of the tree, then do breakfast, (OEB, if you're wondering) then do some shopping. It's the first time I've spent longer in the line to get in the store, than to pay for the stuff. That's what you get for being early on a long weekend.

While BBQ bison ribeye steak was in progress, I was looking at the wind lashing the neighbour's tree. The light was pretty good. After supper I set up the camera and tried to get the shot I had in mind. I rarely get up to f32 or anywhere close. I'm usually down at the other end. This big number means the aperture is closed off. I wanted the exposure time to be longer to get a sense of the wind blowing the tree around. If I had a filter I'd have put it on. This isn't quite what I had in mind, but almost. I'm going to wait a couple hours till closer to sunset, or maybe even after and try again. In the meantime you get a work in progress.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Un-retired, a 3 week perspective, and orange

Zoom! This has been interesting, if somewhat tiring. Last you heard I was happily retired, puttering with my camera and novel, and other stuff. What the heck, you ask?

It's been a story a long time in the making. The last time I worked full time hours was back at Penn West, late 2015 or so. Sometime shortly after the Great Purge at the beginning of September I started working part time hours there. My buddies went on to find other jobs. Several of them at Keyera, where I went to work for a while.

One of them landed at AltaGas, and promptly started to pitch me, and them. She thought they needed my skills, and she was right. That was about 2 years ago. There was a short term contract at Keyera, and I thought the race was on to see if AltaGas or Keyera would get an offer to me first. I knew people from both organizations and I was interested to see how it turned out.

Keyera's project has a lot of moving parts. I'm pretty sure if I'd been willing to sign up for a 3 year full time gig, I'd have become one of the people moving those parts around. A part time role never jelled, and thats the way it goes sometimes.

AltaGas started getting serious late last year, and it's been a bit of a slog. Sometimes it seems to take organizations a long time to do what seems to be a simple thing. Within the last month another buddy from Penn West started pitching me a role with yet another guy I knew from Penn West (we're everywhere now!). There's no harm in talking, because you never know if the wheels will get bolted onto the wagon, or stay bolted on. In the end the offers came at the same time, and after a stressful day thinking about it, I picked AltaGas and started May 1.

Turns out that part way up the chain of command above me is a guy I worked with at BP all these many years ago. Just down the hallway from him is a guy from Talisman that I knew somewhat, though I didn't actually work with him.

New projects are always a bit of a blur. There's the routine stuff, getting shown your office (cubicle), where the washroom is, the printers, office supplies and such. Being dragged around introduced to everyone you might work with. Finding the meeting rooms. Getting oriented to the project, and trying  not to be too horrified at what was done by people who are no longer there.

In my case, getting used to working a 40 hour week again. Its been a while, almost 3 years. There are two main paths to working part time. One is to work some set number of hours or days a week. At Keyera it was 3 days a week, and the last year or so Penn West it was 4 days a week. That was great. The other model is to work full time, for a short term contract. That's AltaGas. I'm there till Oct 31, and boy do I have lots to do!

It's funny how different organizations find certain things hard. At Penn West whiteboards were easy. Mention wanted one, and they'd ask how big, and shortly later a couple guys would show up to screw it into the walls. BP had magnetized whiteboards that were totally the bomb. I requested a whiteboard the first day at work, and it took AltaGas 3 weeks to deliver. On the other hand, I requested a third big monitor, and it showed up a few hours later. Gotta love that.

Once upon a time, back in the early 2000's, one of my work buddies told me that his goal was to schedule his working life the way most people scheduled their vacations. As in, about a month a year. He does lots of traveling doing things for Habitat for Humanity, and good for him. That gave me lots to think about, and started working towards working part time. My thinking was that between 55 and 65 I'd like to work about half the time, maybe working more in the earlier part of that, and less in the later part. That brings in income to defer living on investments, pays cash for new toys or trips, and gives time to enjoy the toys and trips. I think I'm about on track for that.

There are lots of people working late in life, not because they enjoy it, but because they need to. That's sad. It's true that some people have expensive unplanned adventures, but lots of people just have no clue how to manage money. Of course, there are some people working because they enjoy it. That's mostly me. It's an interesting project, and there's lots I can contribute to it, and that's fun.

I'm still swimming 3 days a week, and that feels pretty good. My run and bike have fallen off the edge of the world, though. Sigh. It's the long weekend and the weather is nice, I suppose I could run tomorrow, if I really wanted. I suppose I should. But will I? Probably not. I'm feeling a bit run down.

The photography has been going pretty well. In fact, photographs have been the main part of the blog for several weeks now. Those that like my words might have been having withdrawl symptoms or something, so I thought I'd get a little more wordy.

That's not to say you have to do without a photo. The tulips have been lovely this year! Here's some orange ones.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Red (NSFW)

Red is hard for cameras. Really hard. Our eyes see the full rich red of a rose or a tulip, with all the subtle gradations of colour and the texture of the plant. The camera sees red and it's little sensor brain is overwhelmed or something.

Then there's editing in Lightroom or other software. It's trivially easy to over do it and end up with an unnatural looking result. Several times tonight I had to reset and start over. Pretty well for anything this red, the auto button is useless.

Still, I love the challenge and the learnings. I'm still working through the aperture settings and getting a grip on the exact effect I'm looking for. I won't say it's more difficult on a full frame camera, it's just more exact, and the camera screen isn't maybe as precise as one might like. I'm trying to get into the habit of finding a shot I like, then playing with aperture more than I do now. That should give me more choice about the artistic nature of the shot. Now that I see that first shot on screen, I'm wishing the depth of field had been shifted towards the back ever so slightly.

These were all shot in the evening, when that side of the house in in shade. I liked the deep ruby glow amid the shade, and tried to capture that. Lightroom wanted to crank the brightness way up. Yes, the two middle ones are the same plant with different camera settings, not just the same shot tweaked differently in Lightroom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


This is a Muckle Plum tree. The bees are loving it just now. Even after getting warmed up by trying to photograph active kids, none of the bee shots worked out. I'll have to keep trying. In the meantime you will have to satisfy yourselves with this. It wasn't moving much.

Monday, May 14, 2018

White translucence

The delicate translucence of the white petals!
That lovely hit of colour in the middle?
How did I go so long without truly appreciating the beauty of flowers?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mostly tulips

I think this is what they mean by bursting forth. No idea what this is, but I think it's a peony, trying to keep up with others. The two well established peonies look like they're starting to eye the lawn in an acquisitive sort of way.

Two views of the same peony, showing the difference between two lenses. This first one was shot with a 105 mm lens, but you can't get as close. I love this rich yellowy orange.

This one was shot with my 100 mm lens, but it's built as a macro so I can get much closer. The slightly difference leads to entirely different photographs.

I sort of liked these two, it reminded me a bit of two sharks swimming together.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

An unconventional work list

This one.

And this one.

One is Linda's, one is mine. Guess which is which.

The white is a Riesling, and it's lovely right out of the carboy, with a delicate peach taste. It went quite well with BBQ lamb skewers. The far one needed to be racked and stabilized, and that got exciting. It channeled Hawaii and I got a wine volcano. That's never happened before.

Linda had made yet another trip to Sunnyside to help clean them out. I don't even know what all is there. More peonies, and some hens and chicks (see below) and flowers. Lots of flowers. I think everything from last year is coming up, including the poor clematis that I decapitated by accident last year while mowing the lawn.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The poor lilies!

There they are, just starting to grow, barely out of the ground, and what happens?

They are savaged.

Savaged by the rapacious lily beetles. We had hoped the long winter would kill them off, but no. We'd seen a few, here and there over the last few days, but today Linda caught them boiling out of the ground to feast on young innocent tender succulent lily. Poor thing.

It's going to be a long summer keeping the lily beetles repressed. Anybody that comes over and kills some lily beetles, or the rose mites/beetles, goes home with a bottle of wine.

Here's the first bloom from a plant in the back patio garden. I think it's a tulip.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dry and wet garden

Here's a couple daffodils for you. The first is from a few days ago when it was just about the only flower going. Now there's a ton of stuff on the go. The second one is from last night. It wasn't raining very hard, and raindrops on flowers are always nice.

My neighbours are growing accustomed to seeing me sprawled out on the lawn, aiming the camera at something small and close to the ground. Not this time, the grass is soaked, a nice gentle rain the ground can absorb. The garden is loving it!

So much going on in the garden!
All the roses are putting out leaves.
The two grizzled old clematis in the side bed are well leafed out now, and that's happened quickly. These are the ones transplanted from the back fence, and after a bit of a quiet start seem happy.
The clematis I accidentally chopped down last year seems to be coming back.
I'd already mentioned the established peonies are doing well, but the two newer tree peonies seem to be taking their time.
Lots of other plants are sending up leaves and even a few blossoms as well. Just like last year, I don't know what very many of them are called. Linda tells me, then I forget.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

First peony bits

I just love peonies. Other plants too, of course. once the lilies get going it's hard to look elsewhere, but I do.

But there's something about the little peony claws that just get me. Sort of alien looking things, reaching up to clutch and grab something. These are the two oldest peonies, the first one red, the other one white.

I can't wait till they bloom. Remember that white peony shot with the bloom backlit by the sun? I want to try that with the red ones this year, that should be a challenge. Plus the ants love peonies, and I can't wait to try out the macro lens on them.

Linda went and got yet more peonies. They probably won't bloom this year as they settle in, but the ones we planted a couple years ago should start. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A good start

Linda has been busy.

Those are just the start. Some have already made it into planter pots, but I don't have nice photos of them yet. But the real deal was yesterday. A well known greenhouse (Sunnyside) has been bought by developers, so everything must go. A lot more plants joined the ones above.

For example, Ito peonies that normally go for $75, are half price. Other similar deals. Let's just say it's a good thing I'm working again. Now she has to revise her plans for the garden to make space for plants that could be there for 50 years. Last night over BBQ rack of lamb, she was discussing what won't make the cut. So hint, if you like some of the plants in the garden, talk to her soon about her list.

The rabbits or deer got at one little bunch of tulips so Linda draped this protective netting over them. It seems to be working so far, but we'll probably have to drape some of it over the other plants as well. The problem is the big bees. They are out and working hard. The small ones can go in and out, but the big one is huge, and has to squeeze in and out. I'd liked the way the light caught the netting, but this time it didn't quite come out the way I had hoped.

And speaking of work, it's going well, though this 40 hour thing is taking a bit of getting used to again. I haven't worked that many hours in a week for several years. This week is, well, busy, doing things that most of my readers would be bored by or not understand, unless you get the joke here, or get excited by this explanation. If so, let me know and I'll elaborate. (Not you Sean, you get it next time we have beer.)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Yellow is the colour, mainly

Lots of daffodils coming up! Such a beautiful yellow.

And yes, this is another in the running for image of the month, at least for now. Who knows what will happen by the end of the month?

There will be a test later on today. Sometime between putting one of the water barrels away last winter, and the rain filling it with water this spring, a crack developed around where the drain valve is installed. I suppose I should say that installed is a strong verb for such a flimsy construction.

I tried some goop but that didn't work. The pressure of the water forced the valve to flex slightly, opening the crack again. So I got better goop and a couple big heavy duty washers. Goop onto washers, one on the outside over the valve, one on the inside around the hole. A bit of twisting pressure, goop oozed out around the washer in a nice way.

You might want to know that I'm glad there are no photos of me, arm and head into the barrel, reaching to push the washer to where I wanted it to go. I didn't even get any goop on my hands!

36 hours later I'm hoping the washers provide some support for that area and the twisting pressure forced some of the goop where it will do the most good. It's going to rain later today, the weather page says. We'll see.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Another drab to fab

So there I was yesterday, lounged back in a patio chair with a coffee, reading over what I'd just written. Some of you might remember the photo of the garden and the camera on facebook yesterday. Nothing has been done to it this year, mainly because a week ago it was still a glacier, and the ground is still thawing. Still, some plants are beginning to poke their heads out. (A few expletive deleted lily beetles too.)

Then I started seeing how the light was falling on the garden, and I was there grabbing some shots. I was really pleased how these three turned out. For once I could see the shot, get the shot, and have it all turn out on the computer screen. One of these is in the running for image of the month. Tell me which you think it is.

That green glow, topped off by the bit of dead material that was bright gold, caught my eye first.

The red caught my eye next. That leaf is maybe an inch or so across, and mostly buried in other leaves, but the light was just right.

Then whatever these are, if you look closely there's some white fuzz clearly showing up on some of the central plants, contrasting with the dark brown material underneath. I was thinking they were like totem poles, either mutated or dilapidated from age. Or maybe gargoyles scrambling up a pole to escape a predator. Then there's the background. Oh my! This is one of the first times I've seen an artistic effect and had the camera capture it. I love how that bush transforms itself into a painted radiating streamer effect. You are only seeing the web version, the full sized version is amazing!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The naked rose

This time of year one can see just how fierce some of the roses are. Look at those thorns!

This morning was a good time for photography, I've got a bunch of nice garden photos in the bank, ready to parcel out on the blog, and maybe instagram. Time to pour a glass of wine and enjoy the evening.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Look Mom, I made the cover!

And here it is!

My first cover for the local community association. Some of you might remember that I was published in Impact Magazine a few weeks ago. Next year, Landscape Photographers International! Or something...

This working on interesting projects thing is, well, interesting. I'm glad this was a 4 day week. I'm already being dragged into meetings, dealing with delegated stuff, and confidently assuring someone to go ahead and make those changes in Production. (We checked in Test first.)

Not sure how much time I'll have to write a lot in the blog, but I'll try to get up a photo every day or so, but they might not be current.

Things are blooming in the garden! Plus I got my first photo that is in the running for Image of the Month, and it's none of these. You'll have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April Image of the month

I'd spoken before about being in a bit of a funk waiting for winter to be over. I think it shows in the photos. Almost all of them are just photos of something. I'd like to think they are well enough done, but there isn't the artistic touch I'm aiming for. I'm getting out a bit more often and enjoying it more.

You might remember this from the Amaryllis extravaganza early in the month. There are a number of photos of the bloom at it's most brilliant red, with the delicate tracery just visible. This bloom is just past the prime and beginning to fade. I like the slightly crumpled texture and darker colour.

In other news I've taken a 6 month contract at AltaGas. This has been discussed on and off since before I left Penn West. I'm working with my buddy Andrea again, and if you go up the hierarchy a little, there's a guy from my team at BP all these many years ago. There's a few other people I know, or know of there, and I'm sure I'll run into them sooner or later.

One of the things I like about working downtown is the serendipity of running into people you know. Today I ran into someone at lunch time that I'd worked with at Nova (anyone remember them), and BP. We didn't work directly together, but saw each other periodically.

The gig is working with data destined to live in a new instance of Maximo 7.6. There's some data from new facilities, and then some migration of older versions of Maximo. There will be lots of subtle database stuff that would put most of you to sleep if I were to say any more about it than this. There's a bit of process work and it should all be lots of fun.


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