Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Short Sit

Sue goes to a ladies exercise class two mornings a week. Lately, she has been cycling the 3km to class. We use the nearby trail for the first half of the ride, and the second half is on very quiet streets, so it's a nice ride.

Since she's a little reluctant to cycle on her own, I have been escorting her back and forth. Between her two trips, I usually come back to the house for a half hour or so, and then cycle back for her. I don't mind the extra bit of exercise.

But this week, for whatever reason, I struggled a bit on the ride, so I didn't come back to the house. I intended to head to the coffee shop, but when I arrived, it was full, and I'd really had my fill of coffee that morning.

So, I kept cycling and stopped on the dock at the park for a bit where I took this pano. I like taking panos with the phone; it's easy to do, and then it stitches the scene very well.

This is a 180° photo which looks like I'm sitting on a v-shape dock, but I assure you that it was straight.

When I upload these panos to FB, I can hold the phone up and just rotate the phone so that the photo rotates as if the viewer was sitting in the same spot. I really like this, but it doesn't work here.

If you click on the image below from FB, it should take you there for the rotating view if you wish to see it. (I think.)

You'd think that I could have just sat and enjoyed the scene for more than a few minutes, but I find it difficult to sit and just contemplate. It's not that I am an energetic guy who's always into projects, but I do find it difficult just to sit and do nothing. I will fiddle on the computer or pick up the tablet or a book or whatever. It's a bit of a weakness really because that was such an enjoyable scene. I mean, I did appreciate it, but not for as long as some would have.

I kept on riding before heading back to rendezvous with Sue and thereby put on more miles than I would have had I returned home. But it was pleasant enough, and I found that I was no loner struggling with the ride.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Stuck But Solved

After posting of Wordscapes yesterday, I played the game that I showed a blank screenshot of. This screenshot.

And ... what often happens is that I get stuck on one word. Does this type of thing happen to you? It doesn't have to be the same word that gives me fits. It could be another. Or maybe you're a whole lot better than I am at these kinds of things.

Here's where I got stuck. It took me quite awhile (relatively speaking) to come up with the solution.

You'll probably guess it right off, but just in case you want to struggle with it, I'll post the answer below after making you scroll for a bit.

The big reveal.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My One Game

I don't play computer or tablet games; I really don't.

Oh, sometimes a game will catch my interest for awhile, but it is usually short-lived.

Back when computers were young, like in the mid-80s, I played a lot more. There was Frogger, Pacman, Pole Position, and Tetris (a little later) along with others.

But since maybe the early 90s, not much.

However, one game that I have downloaded onto my tablet does get played a bit as proved by the level that you see in the screenshot: Wordscapes.

Mind you, I completed all of those levels over a long period of time, during which the game might be set aside for a week or more. So it's not as if I'm addicted although I also have the game on my phone, where I have play a similar number of levels. Sue plays it a lot more and is on level 2641. (I just checked.)

That's a lot of levels, and I don't know if one ever comes to the end of the game. But Sue is not addicted either; it's just a good game to pass a little time when there is a little time to pass if you know what I mean. In other words, you can play a round in fairly short order when you're between tasks.

BTW, they're not so much levels as rounds. At least, I don't notice the rounds getting much harder if at all.

Here is what the game looks like: kind of a mix between a crossword and a word scramble. The crossword part of it helps you after you fill in a few initial words. I mean, knowing one letter in a word can really help you to figure out the whole word.

But I didn't really start this post to extol the glories of Wordscapes. No: I came to post of the weirdness of the mind — or at least of my mind.

I don't know how many times I have wrestled with a problem only to leave it and have the solution pop into my head while I was doing something else. The shower, by the way, seems to be a good place for random inspiration, which I found to be quite true when I was doing website coding a number of years ago. I would hit a roadblock and leave the coding but then have the solution pop into my head in the shower or while chopping onions or whatever.

I hadn't expected this to happen with Wordscapes. But it did.

I had been playing a round that was longer than the one pictured above, and I got totally stuck on the last two words. There was something that needed doing in the kitchen, so I passed my tablet to Sue, and said, "Here, you try it because I'm stuck."

Maybe a half moment later, without the clues to look at, I asked Sue from the kitchen, "Does matron fit?"

Sure enough, it did. And that helped to unlock the very last entry, which I got in a flash.

I find that strange: to go round and round, trying all sorts of combinations of letters and being stymied, only to grasp the answer when I wasn't even looking at the letters.

BTW: if you want to try the game, it's free although there are commercials after every round, which you can eliminate by forking up $3.99, which is not bad at all ... although I haven't done it.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Down the Bunny Trail

A little photo op with the kids and their step sisters.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sunset on the Trail

In my previous post, I showed a few sunrise shots from the trail. Later, I returned at sunset. I had guessed that there might be a relatively good one, so I packed my gear and drove up there. It only takes about 5 minutes. Once I parked, I had to walk up the trail a bit but not too far.

You can see the trail a bit in the second shot, which, along with the first, was my fave of the bunch. There is golden rod in the foreground of the third and fourth shots, but matching the exposure of the foreground with the sky is always a bit of a trick, and I probably should have tried to lighten it a bit. The final shot is almost nothing but sky with just a bit of the distant trees below, just to anchor the shot a bit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Trail at Drummond Road

Yesterday, Sue and I explored a bit of the new trail (old railway line) north of town. The trail also runs through town, but our section is still under construction. The county (or township), however, has completed the section to our north.

Once we crossed a somewhat busy road, that wasn't very busy on a Sunday morning, there were no obstacles. However, because the fine gravel is not totally worked in yet, the cycling was a little harder than usual. It was a treat to get back onto pavement afterward.

The round trip was only about 15km, but that is the longest we've done this year, and for a whole decade, I think.

I discovered a spot for potential early morning photos, but come morning the roving emergency ambulance was parked in that exact spot. Can you imagine? In all of the rural county, they were parked in the one isolated spot where I wanted to shoot.

I looked around for a composition anyway, but this one wasn't so good. I could see the glow from the rising sun, but the stubble in the field isn't very appealing. Still, a shot is a shot.

I went into the farm field for just a few steps and found this composition along a harvested row. While there's no sunrise light in this view, I like this one a little better than the one above.

Then, still in search for a better composition, I walked north along the trail, where we hadn't cycled previously. Not far along, I found a composition that I like better. There is some sunrise light and a patch where it is falling on the ground a little, plus some tracks that form a leading line.

I think that photo, above, is my fave, but I switched the camera into vertical mode, and I like this one too. I've processed it a little brighter, and sometimes I think I might like it more.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Turning on the Lights

At the end of the previous post about the Grand Hotel, I speculated that I might try to add lights to the other windows by cloning. Well I gave it a try.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Morning at the Grand

I awoke earlier than usual on Sunday morning, and after some dithering decided to head out with the photo gear. With no particular destination in mind, I pulled over when I crossed our main street the Grand Hotel. I have often or at least sometimes thought of taking some night photos, and so I stopped.

I have posted of this a number of times in the past, so I won't go on at length, but it was built in 1872 as the Mississippi Hotel and was considered to be one of the finer hotels between Ottawa and Toronto. In the 1950s a fire destroyed the fourth floor and times of disrepair tended to follow. There were many hotels and inns here back in the old days, but this was the finest and the only one that still serves as a hotel.

When we moved here in 2005, it was known as the Heritage Inn but had to close its doors. Subsequent to that, another couple tried to make a go of it, but it looks like it should have a good future as the Grand Hotel.

This first photo is a four-shot panorama. The merged lines aren't perfect. I may try to get a similar shot with a wide angle lens some day, but I still like it overall.

The next shot was taken from about the same vantage point but focusing on the entrance.

Then I moved to get a different perspective. I think I like this one best.

It would have been nice to have all of the rooms lit although people staying there would probably have thought otherwise. I suppose that I could try a significant amount of photoshopping. We shall see.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cave Extras

I showed you pictures of the cave itself, but I have a few more of the tour in general.

On the way down to the caves, we walked past a view of the Bonnechere River. On the left in shadow are two cave openings which led the the 1853 discovery. While the name, Bonnechere, comes from French, the area was settled primarily by English who pronounce it something like Bon-sure.

We go down a set of stairs into the cave. I shot this at tour's end when we were coming back up.

At the actual entrance, and there are still a few more steps to decend once you are past it.

You've seen inside the cave already so, let's skip to after with the usual touristy photo ops.

Oh ... I almost forgot about the fossils. This one of the many items displayed and discussed before the tour. All the samples that they showed us are local, if not to the cave area itself, at least from the general Bonnechere area.

And here's a gigantic one in the display shop at the end of the tour. They recovered three parts to this creature and have it on a long piece of cloth to show how long it would have been if they had the missing parts.

And ... still one more: a crayfish in the depths of the cave. The only reason I could get any sort of picture at all was that someone was shining a flashlight. There was also a bat encounter which came about just when she was talking about where bats over-winter and how many there used to be. You should have heard the gasp.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Bonnechere Caves

We've been in this regions for more than a decade now but have never visited the Bonnechere Caves which are located only about an hour away in the highlands.

The first recorded discovery was in 1853. The property was soon purchased and begun to be open to the public.

The caves were flooded at the time, and they still are in winter. The caves are drained every spring, lighting is installed, and the tours begin. Come autumn, they flood the caves again. This keeps them in good condition by preventing erosive freezing and thawing. As a result the condition of the caves remains very stable.

With went with the kids and Shauna and quite enjoyed the experience. Well four of us enjoyed it. Sue is glad that she went but felt a little apprehensive under all of that rock.

The tour was crowded and it's both confined and dark in there, so you get what you can in terms of photos. I just set my camera to 1/60th of a second and let it choose whatever ISO and aperture that it wanted, which meant a very high ISO and a very wide aperture.

But I hurriedly grabbed what shots that I could.

These first 4 show some of the tour guests and the cramped space in some cases. The second one seems to be my clearest shot from the tour.

A few photos without people or maybe just a shadow or two.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

On the Rocks at Sunset

Near us, but still on the Mississippi River at Appleton, there is a dam and power installation. Just beyond it, one can walk out on the rocks. I was accompanied by two friends because the footing was somewhat problematic for me and my silly right foot. If I fell on my own, there would be help.

Using my tripod as a cane to some degree, I managed reasonably well and only got one soaker when a rock wobbled when I was almost back to the bank at the end of the shoot. Only my right foot went in, so I mostly emerged unscathed.

I never got to the edge of the rocks where I was hoping to get a clear view of the sunset over the water and had to content myself with shooting from a less advantageous spot. Maybe I will make it to the edge if I ever summon the courage to try again.

Bob and Nick at the spot where we first found ourselves. Bob had a good composition in mind already, so nick and I moved on.

Before I moved on, however, I took this photo of a fisherman. I applied warming and glow filters liberally to get the effect that I was after. I usually try to keep my landscape photos close to reality, often with some enhancement, but sometimes I am moved to be more artistic in my interpretation. After all is said and done, I think this is my favourite result of the night.

With the sun now setting quickly I hobbled to a spot near a drop in height, so I set up my camera there and hoped for the best. While I think it would have been better to find a way down to the edge of the rocks, there was simply no time: not the way I limp and gimp anyway. lol

These were some of my attempts. You can see how the sun was almost down in the first and then below the horizon in the others. Some I've exposed darker and some lighter so you can see into the foreground rocks.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Kids Day 10: The Rest of the Day

This is it, folks — the last of the last day. Having said that, we may go out with them tomorrow. It's just that their mother will be in charge. We shall see.

After the bike ride, we played another game of cribbage. They're still getting onto it but doing well. Danica impressed me toward the end of the game when she was able to count a hand of 16 without help. We were playing partners, and Danica and I defeated Sue and JJ by a very slim margin, and only because we got to count first at the end while they could have actually pegged farther than us.

Then it was off to Riverside Park for a picnic lunch. I set up the camera and placed it on the ground ...

... and got this picture, but I wish that I had focused better.

After lunch and some relaxation, we went for a drive to find the sunflower field that we found at this time last year. Sadly for us, it is a corn field this year.

So on we drove to the conservation area at Blakeney rapids where, of course, Jonathan had to perch on top of the old mill wheel.

But the main thing was the water. Although these are rapids, the water is low this year, so I encouraged them to wade out to the rocks. I wouldn't have done so in a higher water year, but it seemed safe with the water only coming up to their knees for the most part.

I had wanted to get out a way too because some of those rocks might make a nice foreground element for photos, but the rough yet slick rocks underneath were too much for my weak, injured foot to cope with. This discouraged me for a time, but I got involved in taking videos of the kids getting out there and playing. They had a very good time, and we enjoyed it vicariously.

The video is 2 minutes long.

When they were heading back to land, a snapping turtle went by. I can't recall ever seeing a turtle in the water like that, at least not in nature. It was well camouflaged and hard to see in the photo even though I darkened the area around the turtle and brightened the turtle a bit.

Day 10 was a very good final day with the little munchkins, who aren't so very little any more. Who knows when they will no longer want to hang out with their grandparents, so we enjoy it/them while we are able.