The Last Picture?

While taking photos of hummingbirds at the feeder I suddenly lost vision in my right eye. The symptoms are that of a detached retina. Today begins the hunt to see if anything can be done about it: the longer the wait the lower the chance for restoration.

My vision has been getting worse over the years. It was never all that good, but at least serviceable. It’s bad enough I’m going deaf, do I have to be blind as well?

This could be the event that forces major changes of life. I’m not looking forward to it. Even dealing with the logistics of getting examined is tricky. Writing this blog entry has been a struggle too; I never realized how much I depend on my right eye and the automatic depth perception it imparts.

Female Rufous hummingbird.

Canada Day: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Clouds made of smoke.

Canada Day, 2021.

First the good news; one of the missing cats, Hannibal, has returned! I happened to look out the window and there he was sitting on the deck. Appears to be none the worse for his four day adventure, except for an insistence on going out again. That’s not happening, big furry cat.

The bad news; wild fires have broken out all around, thanks to the thunderstorms last night. The air smells of smoke, the sky looks of smoke, and the nearest one is at the next lake over – just five kilometers away.

As seen from above.

This satellite view taken at about 4:30 PM Wednesday off Zoom Earth shows the cloud formations from the two largest fires. The one on the left you can follow the smoke trail down to the Lytton fire, and the one on the right leads down to the Kamloops fire. The shadow on the right is caused be the density of the smoke clouds, and the look white because if reflecting the sun back to the satellite. From beneath they are dark and grey-brown.

Raven lamenting.

The ugly part is that we don’t have much to celebrate in Canada this year. The revelation of the horror that was the residential schools has justifiably put a damper on all the good news, even the advances made against the pandemic. For those who don’t know, these “residential schools” were authorized by the government and operated largely by the Catholic church. For over 100 years, right up into the 1990s, they essentially kidnapped native children and abused them in some delusional effort to integrate them into mainstream society. What they really did was damage and often kill them. Then they tossed them into unmarked graves like so much garbage. The concept alone is appalling and horrific. The way they carried it out is akin to the Holocaust. Really. That this happened under what should have been the watchful eye of a supposed modern-day democracy rather than some ancient civilization or evil dictatorship only emphasizes how horrible it was. I don’t know where we go from here, but the road will be long and difficult.

As always, I concentrate on the little things I have some control over. Slowly work progresses, and I try not to think about the fact it may all burn down soon.

I am tired, I am weary, I am sad.

How hot was it?

We are currently experiencing a historically unprecedented heatwave here in BC. Records are being set daily, including Lytton giving Canada a new all-time high of 49.5C/121F. Here at the cabin we’ve hit 41, which is the hottest it’s ever been here. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow, with thunderstorms. This brings up another problem: lightning. We already have two large, out-of-control wildfires burning not too far away. The smoke cast a haze in the air here this morning. Welcome to Hell.

In fact I’ve only been able to work a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot to do anything. I’ve not been going out unless absolutely necessary, and we don’t even let the dogs stay out for long. It’s a case of “just get through this”.

Some bad news: two of our cats have gone missing and the outlook for them is not good. There is water and prey out there if they can find it, but …

MIA: Hannibal, aka Puff-puff.
MIA: Boots, aka Twinkle-toes.

Few photos being taken, due to the heat. But here are a few.

Queen of the Hill (look close).
Robin on the nest.
New flower. I don’t know what it is; never seen one before.
Robin’s egg blue. I quite like this pic.

Beyond the immediate area many things are happening. BC’s state of emergency will finally be lifted July 1, and many rules relaxed including mandatory mask requirements. I will wait until my 2nd shot (on Friday) has had time to take effect before I doff the N95. Unless I have to keep wearing it against wildfire smoke. *sigh* I’m used to that.

Birdies

A small assortment of accumulated bird pictures.

But is having colouration like a gravel road a sensible survival adaptation? (Ruffed grouse)
Prison guard. (Northern rough-winged sparrow)
Blending in. (Alder flycatcher)
Serenity. (Barrow’s golden eye)

Incidentally WordPress no longer allows me to edit published posts in any way, so whatever typos I make are now permanent.

Around the towns

Some things spotted here in 100 Mile and there in Williams Lake. All pictures taken with the Canon G11.

1949/50 Mercury M-47
Com tower
Study in Orange and Gray
Why fly when you can take the train?
Land and sky
Nectar of the gods

Other than these photos the day didn’t go very well. I’m heading back to the cabin to resume work soon.

Laking

Oh boy am I not having fun here at the lake. The temperature keeps dropping to freezing and sometimes it snows. This is making work difficult and unpredictable, even when the water system doesn’t break down unexpectedly.

Winter hangs on.

The logs there I dragged in from the road. There’s more of that to do, but …

Sometimes the logs float down the lake.

The weather (and work) is interfering with photography too. It usually isn’t sunny enough to take a good picture, and if it is I have to take advantage of it and do work.

A bird takes the easy route.

That bit the bird is floating on is from the dock, which has been destroyed.

Spider of the sun.

So here I am trying to get things done with no time to enjoy the environment I’m in.

The cabin I can’t enjoy.

So much work to do and no sign of improvement in the weather.

C’est la vie.

Bunch o’ birds

Some miscellaneous bird pictures that have been piling up in the Nikon file.

Robins. Trust me.
See? Robins.
Except this one is a varied thrush.
And this one is an Oregon dark-eyed junco.
Robins again.
I’ve got my beady little eye on thee! (Robin of course.)
Guess what?
Slate-coloured junco and his Oregon cousin.
Northern flicker pretending to be a robin.
The Robin Tree. So-named because we have had a huge number of robins this year and they like to hang out in this tree. (Look for the blobs.)

A Feature Foto

Dark-eyed (Oregon) junco got a sunflower seed!

It seems I’m not a good photographer. For one thing, I don’t use thousands of dollars’ worth of the latest, most technologically advanced gadgetry. I mean equipment. I don’t shoot RAW and then spend 12 hours fiddling with settings to get everything absolutely perfect. Why, the images I share aren’t even 4X the size of any computer screen out there so you have to pan-and-scan to look at them. And of course after having taken photos for a little over half a century I have no understanding of the use of light, much less knowledge of composition and framing.

Seriously: what the hell do I know about photography?

Well I know how to annoy the hell out of people by doing it my way, I guess.

So here is a larger-than-usual image that I happen to think is a good one, even if it is just another of my endlessly boring “professional snapshots”.

And I’ll warn you in advance I intend to continue doing this, with the occasional ‘feature foto’ thrown in for good measure, until something stops me.

1Ds with 28mm

The weather has gone lousy again so it looks like photo shoots stop for a while. Of course it could all turn around tomorrow: it does that at this time of year. Still not clear enough to go to the cabin, but maybe next week? We’ll see.

In the meantime I took a few shots with the 28mm f3.5 Super Takumar on the Canon 1Ds. This is not my favourite lens for this camera. It works fine and is plenty sharp of course, but it doesn’t ‘fit’ right in terms of taking pictures. In fact the lens-body combinations that work best (to my eye) are the 50mm on the full-frame 1Ds, the 35mm on the Pentax K100s, and the 28mm on the Canon T100 (the last two are APS-C sensors with 1.5 and 1.6 crop factors respectively). Not really a surprise as that’s as close to ‘normal’ lens/body combinations as you can get with these equipment choices.

So let’s see the pictures.

Dead rose hips. Square format for purposes of composition.
Hat tree chain saw carving made by my friend Lorne. Remember digital doesn’t have to have rigid dimensions.
Detail of the carving showing the woodpecker peeking out.
Marley napping. This is a segment of full-frame to see how well it stands up to magnification. Okay.
Winter colour. The tones of this camera are subtle.
Sit, Marley! Checking the dynamic range which is good.

A quick on-line check shows the shutter count on this camera is less than 31,000 – which means it will probably outlast me since they are supposedly good to 150k.

I have yet to try this out on night photography due to lack of weather co-operation. We have already got to the point where you have to stay up ’til 10:00 PM to get a truly dark sky, and that will get worse as we near the Summer solstice and get almost 16 hours of daylight!

There are only two things I don’t like about this camera. The first is the weight, which is enough to relegate it to studio-only work. I can’t imagine even a young photographer gaily toting this 3.5 lbs. body plus lenses over hill and dale. Sure, I’ve handled heavier cameras but that was when there was no choice. It makes me wonder if this wasn’t the driving force behind mirrorless design; all for the sake of weight!

The second issue is the controls are pretty badly thought-out. Many of the most-used items (like ISO) are stupidly complex to operate or are in dumb locations. That big turning wheel on the back for selection is absolutely moronic: four simple arrow buttons like everyone else uses would be infinitely better. The major selections for operation are again stupidly done, where a simple PASM dial would be welcome. Even the ON/OFF switch is poorly located. I think no photographer was involved in the design. For my purposes this isn’t a major issue because I usually “set and forget” things in advance – a particular camera has a particular job and doesn’t get altered from the best settings for that job. The exception to this is the ‘experiment’ camera (Canon T100) which suffers all sorts of changes depending on the experiment of the time.

Otherwise I like the larger sensor size for giving exactly what was expected of it. I don’t see it as the miracle solution for bad photography it is often subliminally touted as – by the same people who think more megapixels cures the same problem. I still haven’t tried it for astro or landscape really, and that’s what I really want to do with it. I don’t think I’ll be buying any more lenses for it specifically, other than in so much as the T100 also takes EF lenses.

Time will tell.