Friday, September 29, 2017

Four Years Ago

Sometimes in a miasma of ennui I click on an old photo folder. Which is what happened this morning after waking up too darn early with a stomach ache. This stomach ache thing is happening with some frequency lately, but it's usually mild. This morning, it wasn't. But I shall spare you a blow by blow recounting as it were.

Anyway, with no new photos to fiddle and faddle with and with nothing much else to occupy me, I happen to click back to March 2013 and was quite surprised to find a number of cute photos of the kiddies. Photos which I don't think I had ever edited. It's fun to look back from time to time, but I don't usually expect to find nice shots that I had previously ignored, it usually just being sort of a walk down memory lane.

Taken at Easter and Sue's birthday, JJ had just turned 4 and Danica was about to turn 6.

First, I liked this one of Danica and decided to process it as a black and white. Aside from the conversion to mono, I didn't do a whole lot of editing. For some reason the background was already dark like that although I darkened it a bit more.

I found a series of Jonathan photos that seemed like they belonged together. It's also a b&w with a bit of a split tone coluring applied (as is the case above but that one had less).

Then I found more Danica pictures that I liked. I tried those in monochrome too, but they seemed more suited to colour.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

That Elusive Bookmark ... Again

Just over a year ago, I blogged here about the bookmark to your left Since the story is over there, I won't repeat it here now.

However, I will say that I have had it for ~60 years and that the day of its purchase is somewhat memorable to me and not just for the bookmark. Oddly enough, I am still somewhat in contact with two of the kids I was with on that day, and they have no recollection of the day whatsoever. And it was their mother who took us on the excursion.

Memory is a funny thing; I've been told that unless there is an emotion attached to an event, you won't remember it. It will just fade into the mists of time. So, I therefore had some sort of emotion attached to the event, and I suspect it was one of pleasure at being treated to a nice outing by this woman. I think I was pleased with the purchase too, but I don't know if that would have been enough emotion on its own.

Aside: Speaking of memory, I am shocked that I only made that post last year, for in my tiny little mind it was years ago.

As I said in the previous post, the bookmark has come in and out of my life for about 60 years, and despite its wear and tear, I don't recall ever having used it very much. But that might also be a trick of memory.

Anyway, after then posting that blog I kind of misplaced the bookmark again although not as deeply as previously, and when it surfaced once again, I made it a point to use the dadgum thang.

And so I have been doing just that for the past few months.

But that usage almost came to a grinding halt yesterday when I wanted to use it to mark my place in a new library book: the one that I had just picked up the previous evening when returning two others.

Of course, I couldn't find it.

You, dear reader, being much more clever than I (which is not difficult by the way) probably already know where it was. Yes, it must be in the leaves of one of the returned books.

Now, I could have let it go. I mean the bookmark really doesn't mean that much to me. But, since I had hung onto it for lo these 6 decades, I thought that I might as well keep it for my few remaining years if possible. Might as well have it as not have it.

But there came another problem. I didn't know the name of the library book that I had left it in. You see, it was a book that had soon lost my interest, and I had shunted it aside. I could remember neither the author nor the title.

Another Aside: When you have been reading Ann Cleeve's Vera mystery series and also her Shetland series, you are used to a certain level of excellence, and my two latest books hadn't cut the muster (please note, not mustard). As a further aside, the new book that I just picked up is also a Cleeve's mystery, and I am more than half way through it already and am quite enjoying it.. Sadly however, I am getting close to being completely caught up on both series.

Come on, John boy, get yerself  back to the narrative.

So back I went to the library without great  hope, but nevertheless a teaspoonful of hope, of finding the thing, I scanned the shelves in the general location where I thought that I might have originally found the book in question: near the Cleeves section. Not a chance, matey.

Thinking it highly unlikely, I nevertheless ask the librarian, if they kept a record of recent titles that had been returned. But I'm afraid the question was met with a sorrowful shaking of the head. Well, not really too sorrowful, but for the sake of the narrative ....

I then wondered if there was any chance that some of the previous evening's returns might not have been yet shelved.

"Yes sire, maybe a few on the cart at the other end of the stacks."

Nearing said cart, I spied perhaps 8 books, and lo and behold , I recognized the one that I had returned. Mind you, I still have no clue of its title.

I opened it and found it. It being the bookmark, of course.

So, once again, the bookmark has returned to me, and I wonder just how many lives it might have.

As it were.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vintage Automobiles

Ugh ... Car Shows. I don't know whether to love em or hate em. I mean to say that it's nice to see them, but when they are packed close together in rows with people around, getting good shots isn't easy. In fact, it might even be impossible.

And when it is also sunny and glarey, well ... ugh again.

It wasn't a show this weekend, but a cavalcade of vintage cars stopped here for about on hour on the weekend.

I had to show up, and the cars were great. The sun and the heat weren't great, but the cars were.

So one takes photos regardless of the conditions because that's what we do. Then, what I often try to do in editing is find a way to mute the background.

Usually I want to do this quickly, and by 'painting in' a texture I can kind of do it, and I also kind of like the effect at the same time. It's a workaround anyway.

In the next two, I worked at muting the background without applying a texture. It took quite a bit more time. The first one is so-so, but I like the second one better.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Post In Which AC Gets Technical ... But It's Easy Stuff

I have two fixed lenses which I never use, except that I did use them last week on two separate woodsy strolls.

Why did I do this?

Well, sometimes a guy wants to open the aperture wider in order to get a blurrier background. The lens that I usually carry only opens to f4. I have a nifty fifty (50mm) lens that opens to f1.8 which allows the background to blur out more, which in turn focuses on the subject better.

You can see the effect in this photo of asters.

The one aster is quite well focused but the blurring soon begins
and the far background has almost no detail at all.

Here's another example of how the background begins to blur giving a pleasing effect — to my eyes anyway.

The next day, I took my 40mm lens. It only opens to f2.8 but it might be slight better for closer work. First, however, I took this photo. Actually, it is 8 photos stitched together in Lightroom: four across and two rows up with the camera in portrait orientation.

The background blur was pretty good at f2.8.

In this one, it was the red veins in the maple leaves which caught my eye. I have never noticed this so much before.

Just in case you are perplexed with apertures and all of these f numbers, here is a little graphic that might helps. As the number gets bigger (32 as opposed to 1.4) the opening (aperture) gets bigger and the background gets fuzzier. There is great depth of field when the aperture is small. In the graphic below, with the camera always focused on the person, the background mountain are fairly clear at the left end but very fuzzy at the right end.

Here's one more image that helps to illustrate the relationship between aperture and depth of field: the smaller the lens opening (aperture) the greater the range of things in focus from front to back (depth of field) and vice versa.

Anyway, to wrap up. I like the convenience of zoom lenses which is why I almost always use them. I have three for my main camera. My long lens and wide angle lens both open to f2.8 but they are more useful for special conditions and not so much for general photo ops. My lens that is most suitable for everyday use only opens to f4, so that is why I switched to my fixed lenses on the walks in question when I knew that I would be concentrating mostly on flowers and leaves.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Golden Helmets

I hadn't heard of the Golden Helmets until the day before when I found out that they were going to perform at Pakenham, a little town about 20 minutes or so north of us. I learned of the event from a photo friend (or would that be foto phriend) who was planning to take some photos, so I cajoled him into letting me ride shotgun.

As it turns out, the Golden Helmets are a precision motorcycle riding team of our Ontario Provincial Police which we always call the O.P.P. They have a long history, and so do I, but I had never heard of them before. Of course, they hadn't heard of me either, so we're kind of even.

A section of the main street was cordoned off and what with being close to the action but at the same time far away as I was in back of most of the crowd, I didn't even try many photos but reverted to video to at least capture a sense of the event. I'll post the video at the end, but I did take quite a few photos earlier.

We arrived early and got a few shots from the parking lot.

Then the squad lined up and headed to the main drag (this section is partly in reverse order which I can't be bothered to fix — oh the shame of it).

A few shots from the street.

A few candid portraits..

And here's the video with my photo friend, Bob, on the cover. There's a brief cameo of him later in the video. How they chose Bob as the cover I know not but he is a fine human specimen after all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mind Blown

I didn't know that I was going to bite the calculator when I decided to take this selfie, but that's what I did.

I just wanted to show the calculator for the purposes of the post; then I thought rather than just take a photo of it by itself that I would hold it in my hand to show the dimension; and, that escalated into a full-blown selfie. I suppose that I decided to chomp because the US Open aired recently, won my Rafael Nadal, who is my favourite player. And when he wins a tournament, he bites the trophy, and I am nothing if not a mindless copycat.

Anyway, the calculator came in the mail last week. It was a freebie from the Cancer Research Society who want me to show my appreciation by writing them a cheque (that's check for some) ... and I might.

It's solar powered, has memory functions, a square root button as well as a % key.

It feels like cardboard, but it works, and it was cheap enough for the charity to send it to me as a freebie. To get my attention. So that I would write a cheque/check. And I might. Oops, already said that.

It stirs my memory it does, causing me to recall the first handheld calculator that my little eyes ever did see. Pretty sure it was this one. A Rapidman. And I know where I saw it: Eaton's in Shoppers World, Toronto.

It was in the early 70s, possibly 1972 but maybe a year or two later.

It was on sale — for $100 and it blew my mind.

Up until then, I had been using my tiny little brain to add up marks for my students. And then I would use a wheelie thingie to convert their raw scores into whatever I wanted. So, if the kid had a total of 131 out of 169, for example, I would spin the wheels and learn that it was also 78% or 47/60 or whatever I conversion that I needed.

It was a great little wheelie thingie that saved me some steps in calculating marks in different categories for up to 150 students, for I might have 3 or 4 categories to work into one final mark, and it could all get rather time consuming.

Unfortunately, I can't find an image of that particular wheelie thingie, but Google can find all sorts of other calculating wheels, just not that one. So that you can get a feel for the general concept, here's one for calculating pregnancy and birth dates and so on and so forth. Wheels within wheels as it were.

But it was all a little hit and miss. I always fretted about making mistakes adding all of those numbers in my head or even on paper it it came to that. And some discerning student discovered that the wheel could be 1% out, or at least my reading of it could be 1% out. And a percent means a lot to some students.

So, when I saw the calculator ... Mind Blown.

But a hundred bucks was a lot back then. I mean it's enough now but possibly equivalent to let's just guess at $400 now. So, needless to say, I didn't buy it.

As time went on and not that much time either, prices went down. I didn't see any more Rapidman machines, but Sears carried another make (the name of which I can't remember even though I used it for years), and when it went down to $35, I pounced.

But think of it: a 4 function calculator was on sale for $100. On sale! Now, something like 45 years later, I get a freebie in the mail that is more than a 4 function machine and it is solar powered too. No batteries. Free. And it works.

Well, that was the thing that got me started on this post, but please indulge me in reminiscing a little more about technology and mark calculation.

By the mid-80s, within about 10 or 12 years of lusting after the Rapidman, I had my first personal computer, an Atari 800 with a whole 48K of Ram. Wowsa!

I was in heaven. I used a word processor to type up worksheets for my classes. It was great because I couldn't type worth a darn. Still can't. I make loads of mistakes when I type (I just typed ttyp and then typp) but we have those magical backspace and delete keys as we hum (OK plod) along.

I loved using PaperClip as my word processor; I knew all of the keystrokes (no mousing back then) and felt as though I could make the app sing and dance.

And then I purchased a spreadsheet program, Syncalc. And made my own marks template.

Of course, soon enough, marks programs came along, and they worked even better than my homemade spreadsheet.

As I put this post together, I am almost astounded by a few things.

  • One, of course, is the whole free calculator thing.
  • Then, there is the incredible pace of technological change, and beyond what has been mentioned, there is the reality that I am going to publish this post on a thing called the internet.
  • Then, I impressed myself by remembering brand names like Rapidman, PaperClip and Syncalc about 3 or 4 decades later. This is especially impressive since I can't even remember the names of the various pills that I have to take nowadays.
  • Finally, how about being able to find all sorts of images online of products that died and were buried decades ago? Who puts them online and why, I don't know, but I think it's great.
And I say to myself, what a wonderful, mind-blowing world.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Asters, Sumacs and More

I went for another little stroll looking for more tinges of colour. What I found on the path were a lot of asters

A closer look.

One clump had some bees, I got the one on the left almost in focus. I'm not very good on macros which take patience and a proper lens; I possess neither. You also really need a tripod; I have one but wouldn't carry it around on a stroll.

There were orange sumac leaves, some like those in the second photo already fading.

And splashes of normal autumn leaves here and there.

But it's still mostly green.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Well, we finally got there. I don't think Sue and I would have made the drive to Gatineau (on the Quebec side of the Capital Region), but Shauna wanted to go, and she's about the most competent person and driver imaginable, so off we went.

MosaiCanada is a fabulous exhibit made to celebrate Canada's 150th. I did say fabulous, and I meant it. Exhibits are made from plant matter affixed to wire frames that take shapes from out past and present.

The exhibit will run through October 15 and has already had more than a million visitors. It's free, and if you're local and are able to go, I think you should.

The first thing that I saw was this train, the railway was a most important link across the country. There was also a railway station, but I didn't care for my photo, and one has to draw the line somewhere as there are many more that I would like to share.

Lobster fishing has been and still is important in Eastern Canada. The flowers represent ocean waves.

Puffins from the east and an Inukshuk from the north in two displays that seem to be one in this photo.

From history: Gold Miner, Lumberjack, Coureur be Bois (fur trader who travelled deep into the country via canoe)

First Nations: An Inuit (aka Eskimo) and Indian (in the canoe behind Sue and me)

Culture: the piano was in homage to Glen Gould, perhaps Canada's most honoured and exalted musician. The Gould family was friends with Sue's family and Sue took lessons from Glen's mother, so she had to be in these photos.

More Culture: hockey is our sport, and this represents a most famous goal, the winning goal of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR, Yvan Cournoyer embraces goal scorer, Paul Henderson.

China (1st photo) and Shanghai (2nd photo) made wonderful contributions.

Mother Nature was very prominent and beautiful, and she was pleased to share a photo op with Shauna and Sue.

And I guess that I need to stop with a strong recommendation to go if you can.