Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Dogs help a Scottish gamekeeper keep watch in Aberfoyle, Scotland, March 1919. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM REID, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Dogs help a Scottish gamekeeper keep watch in Aberfoyle, Scotland, March 1919.

The National Geographic has a Tumblr blog simply entitled, “Found“. It has become one of my favourite places on the web. It is essentially just photos from the vast archives of the National Geographic … and the photographs are amazing. The shots date from the 1890’s and cover just about every subject imaginable.

A similar Tumblr blog is from the New York Times. “The Lively Morgue” is comprised of photographs from the Times over the years. A neat part of the Lively Morgue is both the front and back of the photos are shared. The back shows the caption and editor’s notes, which in itself is of interest. While there is a New York focus, as would be expected, the photos are from all over the world.

Both blogs are highly recommended.


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In the last six or seven years I have found the joy of wandering off on my own through the countryside and taking pictures of whatever. The whole process would probably drive a companion crazy. There is no script, no destination, no plan – just find an interesting road on the map and go. My friend Sharon, who is also a photographer, is the only one I know who could tolerate the process – mainly because she does the same thing.

So after a couple of days and a thousand or so images, it is time to look and see what was captured. A number of years ago, I came across some brilliantly simple advice on the process. Instead of looking for the out of focus, badly exposed and just plain boring shots – go through the images and pick out the ones that excite you. Don’t worry about the duds – just affirm the ones that move you. It completely changed my approach. Now, it is like a treasure hunt. I know there are good images in there – just have to sift through to find them. That first impression is very powerful.

The other treasure hunt is to set my wallpaper on the raw data files so that every 15 minutes a new image shows up on the desktop. And most of the time I don’t pay much attention. But every so often an image appears and I have the same feeling of discovery when I did the initial run through. This is fun. It’s time to head out again and capture some of the fall. Film at 11.

A shot from 2009 from a trip around central Alberta. Discovered in late 2012!

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Yesterday, February 20, was Family Day in Alberta. I took my third son and my daughter out to a visit relatives who live out in the country about an hour north and east of Edmonton. Upon arrival around noon, we socialized and then enjoyed an amazing lunch featuring mostly items from their garden. They live in a house that overlooks the North Saskatchewan River with an incredible view of the river and the surrounding countryside.

One of the most entertaining parts of the visit is the bird feeder just outside the dining room. The feeder is over a meter long and Merv keeps it stocked all winter with sunflower and canola seeds. There was action at the feeder the entire time we were there.

Redpolls at the Feeder

We saw common redpolls, blue jays, english sparrows, chickadees, pine grosbeaks and a magpie at the feeder. It’s a great backdrop for having a meal … certainly better than television!

After lunch, my daughter and I went for a walk to take some photos while my son and our host retired to the basement to chat about brass instruments. They share a common interest since my son played the baritone in school and Merv has a collection of nine different brass instruments and plays in a band himself.

I took my Canon 20D and a couple of lenses and we set off into the fields. There is something about a crisp clear winter’s day that is really refreshing. For all we complain about winter in this part of the world, there is something to be said for the bright sunshine on a pristine white snowfield.

Shelterbelt Shadows

My daughter is also interested in photography and the two of us wandered around for about an hour just enjoying being outside and the wonderful photo opportunities that were presented to us. I probably shot around 200 images while I was outside – most will never see the light of day. A day like this helps to satisfy my creative urges.


Frozen Pond

I find myself calmed and refreshed after a day like yesterday. Enjoying time with good people, appreciating the natural world around us and just being thankful for being. A very good way to spend Family Day.

Snow Topography


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There are days, cloudy days and good cloud days. Today was a good cloud day. A very interesting sky during different times of the day.

Cirrus patterns in the late afternoon

And then we were rewarded in the evening with some beautiful highlights courtesy of the setting sun.

Highlights at sunset

Earlier this year I purchased a used Canon G11. My main camera is a Canon 20D DSLR, which I have a number of lenses for. The G11 is sort of a point and shoot on steroids. I have really become attached to the G11 with all its features, compact size and very good lens. I think of it more as a snatch and shoot since it is the camera I can grab on the fly when something catches my attention and know that I am going to have control over my images and get good results in the process.

It was definitely a good cloud day.

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All that is left of Artland, Saskatchewan

As with the shot of the first Formula 1 safety car, I occasionally get surprised by views on my Flickr account.

In September 2007, I spent a few days driving around Lloydminster Alberta. One the spots I passed through was Artland, Saskatchewan – or what was left of Artland. It is in east central Saskatchewan just west of Manitou Lake. It is an interesting area that has a lot of small hills and not very much productive land. I was travelling north on a range road and just past the CN line, I saw this monument and a historical marker. Pulling off the road, there was a plaque on a large boulder and the foundations of a number of buildings. Artland was a station on the railway line and had been prosperous in its day. I wandered around for a while and took a number of shots. I have been in a few abandoned towns and it is always a bit touching to think what once was.

The plaque commenerating Artland

I think there must be something about the name that intrigues people. I would have never guessed that 200+ people would be interested in the image or I would even stumble across such a place.

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My first 'serious' camera - the Argus A

‘Serious’ = Adjustable

I enjoyed my Kodak Flashfun, but it really wasn’t a ‘cool’ camera to carry around with you as a teenager. The Flashfun was more along the lines of something your maiden aunt would be taking pictures of Niagara Falls with. Another camera really wasn’t on my radar until a family friend gave me an Argus A.

Now this was not a new camera by any stretch of the imagination by the time I got it around 1968. The Argus A was the first mass-produced 35mm camera in the United States. First introduced in 1936, the Argus A was designed in the image of the much more expensive German-made Leica. It originally sold for $12. The body was made out of Bakelite and the camera was fully adjustable for aperture and shutter speed. The A was a very popular camera in its day and spawned a number of variations over the years. Mine had a pretty high serial number so probably dated from 1938-39.

For me, being able to control the settings of the A opened up an entire new world. It was as though I now had a ‘real’ camera. I started buying Popular Photography and reading about the technical aspects of different cameras as well as the idea of photography as an art form. Now I could experiment with light, form and texture. I don’t think I ever shot a colour roll through the camera. Black and white was about all I could afford at the time. But now there was a choice. I could use Tri-X for cloudy days, Verichrome for bright scenes – there were all sorts of possibilities.

Our high school had a camera club with some darkroom facilities. I started developing my own black and white film and experimenting with enlargers and printing. And I found I liked to capture images that weren’t just snapshots but had some artistic merit (or at least they did in my eyes).

What the Argus did was whet my appetite for all things photographic. It didn’t take me long to recognize the limitations of the Argus. It had a small viewfinder, no flash attachment and the lens was fixed. You could buy a telephoto or wide-angle attachment but that was not the same as an interchangeable lens. So after saving up, I purchased my first Single Lens Reflex camera – a Minolta SR1. But for a couple of years in the late 60s, the Argus was my entry into the world of photography. I have never looked back but I still own that Argus (along with about 20 of its siblings). And every once in a while, I run a roll of film through just to remind myself of the way it was and how far we have come.

My Sister and Barry from next door

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I suppose one of the consequences of being interested in photography for 45 years or so is the collateral damage of boxes and boxes of old prints and negatives. While I have had a flatbed scanner for years, it is a time consuming and complicated process. I have been looking for an easier way to scan images for quite a while. While looking over the Best Buy website, I stumbled across the Kodak P461 Personal Photo Scanner.

After reading some other people’s experiences with the scanner, I decided to pick one up. At $119 it was the right price considering the old Nikon scanners went for over $1000. At the same time, I didn’t get my hopes up too much … you get what you pay for.

There are several versions of the scanner. I chose the most expensive one because it claimed to be able to scan negatives and slides as well as prints. Yes, it does scan prints very well. Slides and negatives not so well. There seems to be an issue with the negative carrier binding the film as it moves through the scanner. But for prints, it is very simple. Turn it on and feed the print through. The scanner itself is about the size of a three-hole punch and it does not have to be connected to the computer to run. The images are saved on to an SD card. Take the memory card from the scanner and insert it into the card reader on the PC and you are in business.

Nana and me - Toronto 1954

As mentioned in an earlier post, family history needs to be preserved. Well, I have lots of history to preserve.

Typical Leafs Fan

(I was going to save this for a wedding celebration but what the heck!)

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