Sunday, December 8, 2013

Crappy Winter Weather and Some Links

Female Northern Cardinal

It's been a nasty weekend. Ice and snow yesterday and a dreary, cold day today. Tomorrow will probably bring even more snow. It's been a good opportunity for some photos though.

Before I get to that, a couple of cool links:

Color Gradient Test - This is a test for color vision deficiency. I got a 0 (no holes in my color vision, yay!)

Mantis Shrimp - Badass crustacean. Be sure to watch the video on the left at the bottom

Sunday, November 10, 2013

McConnell Springs

The (half) moon was out today

This weekend Erin and I headed to McConnell Springs. We had originally planned to head to Berea to try to catch some fall colors, but got a late start so decided to stay close since it's getting dark so soon now. McConnell is one of our favorite parks in the area, it's convenient, there's a good chance of spotting wildlife and the boils are always interesting. Today the boils weren't terribly impressive, though not the weakest we've seen either.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today I went on a work outing to Keeneland. It was the first time I've actually been in to see the track and racing. I had been out there for tailgating before though.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dragonfly, Wishlist and Some Random Links

Dragonfly at Scott County Park

Harold Edgerton - To put it simply, he made the impossible possible when it comes to photographic lighting. This blog post is an excellent overview of some of his accomplishments. Overall, the lensrentals blog is fascinating and Roger Cicala is great at writing interesting research articles. I've never rented from there, but will definitely use them if I ever need/want to rent equipment. Their reputation is excellent, plus they're practically based in my hometown (Cordova is a suburb of Memphis).

ACL Tears - Call this one morbid curiosity, this one interests me both as a sports fan and a wannabe athlete. ACL tears happen all the time in football (American and Association really) and given my spotty injury history, it's a big time injury that I fear. This article talks about the structure of the knee, why the ACL is the most frequently damaged knee ligament and discusses what happens when the ACL is damaged.


Big Shot Camera - The Bigshot is a build it yourself kit camera, with a 3 MP sensor and an option to hand crank it to supply power. The build it yourself is very appealing, it seems like a fun toy. Perhaps the feature that can justify the price is the ability to take 3d pictures.

Lomo Konstruktor - A diy 35mm film camera, this one looks a bit more involved than the Big Shot but it's also cheaper than the Big Shot. Film has a certain appeal for occasional use, though I can't imagine shooting film primarily.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Honeymoon Day 10

Fisgard Lighthouse - Looks like a painting!

Last day. Boo! We woke up late, almost noon, got ready and headed to lunch at John's Place. I had a lamb souvlaki wrap, Erin had a falafel wrap. Their bread was amazing too. After that we headed back to our room, and got the camera stuff ready then called for our car and headed to Fort Rodd Hill/Fisgard Lighthouse. We spent a good bit of time wandering around there, visiting the lighthouse and the batteries. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Honeymoon Day 9

Bald Eagle and Crows

My day started by waking up at 8 (boo) for no particular reason, but I heard some crows making a racket outside the room, so I stood up to look out the window. I pretty much immediately saw an eagle fly across below our balcony. I practically tripped over myself running for my camera, unfortunately I didn't have the telephoto lens attached so missed any overhead shot opportunities. It was also quite rainy, so I was reluctant to just stand on the balcony. Eventually the eagle came around and landed on top of a tree pretty close to the balcony.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Honeymoon Day 7

The weather wasn't necessarily cooperative this day

For day 7 we woke up early (not as early as planned... but early enough) to pack up, check out and return to the Tofino Whale Centre to head out on our bear tour! It had to be early for low tide, when the black bears take advantage of stranded fish and crabs for easy meals. It was a little rainy out, but not looking too bad. We got everything packed, ate some Clif bars then hit the road. We got there, paid and got suited up. They also gave us raincoats to take.

Howie getting the boat ready

Howie was our skipper again but this time it was just us. We boarded, choosing the front row after asking what seats would be the best, and headed out. It wasn't raining too hard, but at speed and in the front of the boat the rain pelting your face is quite unpleasant. Add to that my lack of sunglasses, and I was doing everything I could to keep the rain away from my eyes. I ended up just holding the hood on my coveralls over my eyes as best I could and trying to either face downward or to the side. Once I figured out what angles worked, it wasn't too terrible except that my hand was quite tired from holding the hood in place.

The other hand was occupied with my camera, which I had covered with an Op Tech rain sleeve. I also gaffer taped the front end of the rain sleeve to the lens hood so I didn't have to worry too much about the sleeve moving around. My camera stayed dry through the windy trip, which gives me a lot of confidence in the usefulness of these sleeves. It did get a bit humid inside the bag, but I think that's to be expected. I would definitely recommend keeping a couple of these on hand if you want to shoot in the rain, sand, snow, or near salt water.

After traveling for several minutes, we finally arrived to a less open area. By the time the skipper found the first bear, it had mostly stopped raining. I took my first couple shots, and checked the LCD. They were awful!

A wet front element doesn't make for a very good picture

I had anticipated this issue, and pocketed some napkins to dry off the front element. After a couple of quick swipes, big difference! (next time I'll leave the lens cap on until I'm ready to shoot...). Our first sighting may have been the best, since it was a mother and two first year cubs.

Following Closely

"Keep Up!"


After that, the sightings seemed to come fast and frequently.

The bears would turn over rocks to hunt for crabs

There were always crows hanging around, looking for scraps

Chowing on crab

"I didn't do it"


Bald Eagle (cause I like bald eagles)

When it was finally time to head back we had seen at least 15 bears, a few bald eagles, some seals, porpoises and a lot of crows. The weather had also held out for us, with just a little bit of sprinkling after we had reached the area where the bears were. Once we got back and got our suits returned, we headed to lunch at Breakers Wholefood Eatery. I had a smoked salmon sandwich and Erin had a falafel wrap. Tasty. Once we finished lunch it was time to hit the road, so we headed toward Ucluelet. We decided to make a stop along the way at the intriguingly named Incinerator Rock, which was a neat beach stop-off with some huge rock formations. We spent a few minutes walking the beach there, but were really tired so we headed out and finished our drive to Ucluelet.

Incinerator Rock's shoreline (rock formations not shown)

Thankfully that was a short drive, but we arrived way early for check-in at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. Luck was on our side yet again, our room was ready!

The spectacular view from our balcony

This was the nicest place we stayed (though Delta Victoria was a close runner-up) throughout the honeymoon. I must admit, when we drove up I didn't think it looked that great. The front of the building looked plain and a bit dated, but once through the front door it was clear that the place was top notch. My pictures really don't do the room justice, but here they are:

Even the elevator was cool

We showered and rested up for a bit after we got settled in, and then it was off to dinner at Romans Pizza. I had veal parmesan and Erin had a margherita pizza. Then it was back to the hotel to relax for the evening. Once it was darker, I took some long exposures off the balcony.

Tim Horton's count - 10

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Honeymoon Day 6

This gray wolf is just the beginning

This is another picture heavy post. It may have been our busiest day.

We started out hoping for breakfast to come, alas it never showed. We gave up eventually and just had Clif bars. After we finished breakfast we got ready and headed out for our whale tour at the Tofino Whale Centre. We got there a bit early, so wandered around for a few minutes then headed back.

Saw this in the parking lot, no idea what it is

We found the Sugar Shack

We suited up (there were 11 of us total) in the coveralls they provided and walked to the boat then headed out.

Is that an astronaut? With a duckface?

Photo by Erin

The first thing we saw was a deer, followed shortly by a wolf.

Black-tailed Deer

It spotted us, but proceeded to ignore the boat

The boat followed the wolf for quite a while, trying to get everyone an opportunity for a clear sight of it.


The picture at the beginning of the post was taken after the wolf had wandered off from the above perch. The boat was able to get much closer to him after he moved to another rock.

Tufted Puffin

The tufted puffin isn't a very good shot. There's a lot of room to crop, but it's very blurry zoomed in. Taking pictures from a boat on even slightly choppy waters is challenging, to say the least. Especially at 400mm focal length. This was one of a pair, and they flew off before I could really get steady (or lucky). We spotted a whale in the same area as the puffin, but I didn't get any pictures then. I wasn't ready. Luckily the whales were much more active in later locations.

Steller Sea Lions

Before I even got a picture of a whale, the tour was a pretty darn successful wildlife tour. But it got better. The tour guide/skipper, Howie, found a spot with at least a couple of whales surfacing frequently and we settled in there for a while, watching the whales surface, blow and go back down. Occasionally we'd see a dive too. After watching there for a while, it was finally time to head back.

Not the first, but maybe the best

This whale seemed like it was waving

The best blow shot I got

Another shot of a deep dive

But on the way he spotted a sea otter, so we stopped to take a look before finally heading back for good.

Looks like he's praying

Overall a great tour, with some really good pictures taken. We saw lots of wildlife, though didn't get pictures of everything. (bald eagle, seal, sea gulls, black oystercatchers, brandt's cormorants, starfish). The boat was very quiet, and the weather was good to us. I don't think either of us imagined a better day out there than we had.

It was surprisingly difficult to take pictures from the boat. I guess I should have expected it. A boat, sitting in the water with the choppy current, or even worse the boat moving through the water with the choppy current. I was also surprised to have some mild stomach churning due to the motion, but luckily no vomiting.

After we got back, got our suits returned and stuff, we headed to lunch at Gary's Chinese Food. (We had spring rolls for an appetizer, I had beef szcechuan, Erin had fried tofu, veggies and noodles). Then we headed back to the room for a bit to relax and plan/map out our next move. On our way back in we grabbed dinner (frozen Indian food, chicken curry for me palak paneer for Erin with an ice cream sandwich) from the front desk. After relaxing for a bit, we headed down the sunset trail on Pacific Sands property to get to Pettinger Point, which had a nice ocean view and a lot of rock outcroppings to climb on and get different viewpoints, or just to watch the waves crash into. We saw what we think was a golden eagle getting chased away by three crows. I also got some pictures of a black oystercatcher, which I had seen a few of on the whale tour but could never get a picture of them.

Pretty flower

Black Oystercatcher


We walked back from Pettinger Point then headed out to Schooner Cove in the Pacific Rim National Park. Before we even started down the trail, there was a large spotted banana slug on the path. We then walked the short trail (about 1.2km) to the beach. It was a boardwalk with plenty of stairs going up and down as it went through the forest. Once we made it to the beach, we were rewarded with a misty view of the coastline. It wasn't long before it started to sprinkle on us though, so we hurried back to the trail. We made it back to the car just in time for it start raining more steadily. More good timing on our part.

Banana Slug

Schooner Cove's view

I like this one cause I look taller (Photo by Erin)

Pensive (Photo by Erin)

And finally some goofy wide angle distortion shots.

Photo by Erin

From there we headed back to the resort, did some more laundry, had our frozen dinners (super tasty) and relaxed for a while by the fireplace before heading to bed.

Tim Horton's count - 10