Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cat Tracks

We are entering our twelfth winter in this place, and ever since we arrived, a certain cat has made the same trek, day in and day out, in every season. She walks across the front of our house, down the path away from the door, across our part of the shared drive, and down the neighbours' half to the sidewalk

These are the tracks coming across our frontage..

Now, I can't prove that she (because her name is Sophie) does this daily in all kinds of weather. But I do see the evidence when we have fresh snow in winter. In nicer weather, when I have sat on the porch in the early morning, I have witnessed her trek first hand. Now, I haven't done that for some time as I am usually on the computer up in my den early in the day, but the fact that I still see her prints come winter, leads me to believe that she remains a regular.

Why she does this, I don't know because the winter trek isn't easy. Sometimes, there is quite a mound of snow, and at other times the snow is fairly deep. It wasn't particularly deep on this day, but you can see that it was deep enough for a wee kitty.

She's not a young cat anymore, and she wasn't a kitten twelve winters past when we arrived, so I have to wonder how much longer I will see these tracks. Meanwhile, it somehow warms me to see that she continues to walk her beat.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Post Production

I showed you some local house pics the other day, all with snow and Christmas lights. After letting them sit for awhile, I decided that some post processing amendments were in order.

I think the dark sky was too black in all of the photos, so I softened the above photo with some fake snow. I also lit the house a little bit more.

I think it helped by softening the photo and adding a little extra interest. I did the same thing below. It's not exactly the same point of view in the two photos but it's the same house. This was the house where the lady came out to chat for a bit.

Before ↑           After ↓

I didn't think the following photo required snow, but I thought it needed something to take it to the next level.

So, I changed the sky. I used one of my star photos from the summer.

I think it helps quite a lot.

I could probably do the sky replacement thing  in the first two photos as well, but it's not that important to me as I'm just experimenting with different techniques. I mean to say, none of my work is going to make it to the Louvre, so there is a limit to what I will do (he said grinning).

So that was the result of my experimenting. Sometimes, you just have to let things sit and gel for awhile before the light (so to speak) dawns on you. I'm glad I made the changes that I did in these cases.

I think I will turn the last photo into a Christmas card. There is enough room at the bottom for a "Merry Christmas." So ... you will probably see this photo one more time closer to the 25th..

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Looking Christmassy in the Snow

Our previous snow of two weekends past had melted, and we had returned to dullsville. But Sunday night and Monday morning brought a nice snowfall that stayed on the branches for awhile. With the temperatures being relatively mild, I managed to get a few Christmas lights, or at least decorations, in the neighbourhood.

I took this first one during the day after I looked out of my den window and saw this snow-laden ornament across the street. So I grabbed the camera and scurried across.

The rest are evening shots. I had intended to drive around town a bit, but when I made the first stop (first photo below), I realized that it was still slippery, so I limited myself to the neighborhood.

The prettiest house was actually this little townhouse just around the corner, largely because of the snow on the tree, but it was all good.

Although I didn't find any others that quite matched the above, I did stop to photograph a few other places. This was just a corner of a nicely lit house, but since it had a street sign in the middle, I cropped the rest away and just kept the corner.

Around the corner was a nice enough place. The lady with a French Canadian accent came out and talked to me a bit and put on some music too. She was justifiably proud of her work.

One of the grander houses with some nice touches.

Now back to the beginning, this is virtually the same shot as the first but just cropped more. I am undecided over which version I like best. I keep changing my mind.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

JJ at Hockey Now and Then

Somewhat unexpectedly, we attended both a practice and a game of JJ's last week. I took some video clips of both and stitched some parts together. I don't love doing video, much preferring still photography, but it is nice to have a video record too.

This is for the family record, so to speak, but you might wish to stay long enough to compare this weeks skating compared to the beginning, three years ago.

First the present day practice. They sure do some excellent drills.

Some game clips. He wants to score a goal but hasn't yet. He seemed to have a chance at around the 1 minute mark but hesitated and missed taking a good shot.

Whatever the outcome of scoring attempts, it's fun to watch the progress, especially when you compare it to his beginnings three years ago when he wanted to be left alone to sit at centre ice in a funk.

I thought that I had posted all this at the time, but I see that I hadn't for some reason.

His coach tried to persuade him to get up.

JJ eventually did get up and took some of his first, tentative strides, if I may call them that. It's so much fun to look back now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Verto Pano Fun

Last week I posted a merge of 4 photos — 2 across and 2 up. I mentioned how I used Lightroom to merge them and what a good job it did.

Creating panoramas isn't new to me, but I haven't done much with vertoramas, so on another ramble, I decided to play some more.

This photo is just a 3-shot vertorama focusing on the drainage pond in our nearby park.

Emboldened I next tried a combination vertorama/panorama. In the title, I opted to call it a vertopano, but I don't know what other photographers call it. Whatever the name, once gain, it is 4 shots, 2 across and 2 up.

The next and final merge is also a 4-shot, but I didn't go too high on the second layer: just a bit to complete the trees on the right. It's of the little bridge that you may or may not see in the distance in the above photo: actually both above photos.

They all show that winter has arrived but whether the snow will remain or not is still in question. Sometimes it stays until March once we get a covering like this in November, but last year, it was mild and snow-less on Christmas Day, and the kids went out to ride their scooters and without heavy coats.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunset Memories

On the weekend, some of the extended family were able to gather in Kingston from various directions to honour my brother-in-laws recent passing. It was neither a funeral nor a memorial exactly, just a coming together at this difficult time.

We were gathered in a house right on Lake Ontario, and I noticed the possibility of getting some shots of the setting sun.

I think this one is appropriate to the day. A life ends and a sun sets, but the sun will also rise in the morning, and for those who remain, life goes on with hope.

It was only after I posted this on FB that they told me that Bill's son and DiL had moved these rocks
to create a path. How appropriate.

My remaining brother-in-law, a fellow photographic devotee, shared the scene with me.

Oops ... I almost forgot this one.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Danica Learns Hockey Skills

Danica has had a yen to try her hand at hockey. The problem is that she has started late, so she is far behind other girls her age who began playing years ago.

So, what to do?

Well, her mom found a program called First Shift, which is designed to give kids a start in the game in a non-competitive atmosphere. As of yet anyway, they are not even playing but the many kids who enrolled divide into 4 groups and rotate to 4 drill areas through their hour on ice.

It is sponsored by Bauer and Canadian Tire, and for the cost of the program, the kids get 12 sessions and then get to keep the equipment. What a deal!

We were very impressed with how the program was carried out. The coaches all seemed to be dedicated and knowledgeable, and they kept the kids active and involved.

They got to skate with pucks and try a bit of passing and receiving.

The most interesting activity centre was the following where they had to hop over sticks, slide under a bar, and then push a coach on a chair.

My fave pic of the day is this one. It's her smile, and it's just her, the wonderful and happy kid that she is.