Things going on around here

How about this weather, eh? 32C (90F) on Friday, frosted lawn this morning. Summer left us like a thief in the night. (Lytton, the town that isn’t there anymore, set a new record September high for all of BC of 39.6C/103F.)

A small amount of rain Sunday helped damp the smoke out of the air. There are no serious fires burning near us, but enough small ones (including one 1 km behind our house) that the weather forecast one day said “smoke in the morning …” and we’re all having PTSD from the memories of past wildfires. The nightmares are real, and I think we need financial compensation from the government.

Speaking of which, certain provincial ones have decided to hand out cheques to their citizenry to help with the rampant price-gouging because nothing eases inflation like pumping more money into the economy, right? (You can just see their report cards: “Economics 101 [F]”). But don’t worry because after reporting record quarterly profits the grocery chains have assured us the increases they make are just covering their costs. Also, pigs fly.

I have not finished my pre-winter preparations around here and may not get to because suddenly it’s time to start harvesting wood. As in the overnight temperatures have dropped to where lighting the stove may be necessary at both locations while I get wood in for the season. The trick is to cut and stack it faster than you burn it.

Will we be going out to the cabin this week? Good question. I haven’t finished up even what I can do out there yet, and I just got back from WL hospital with five new holes in my arm.

Are things going well around here? No, not really. There’s huge room for improvement, and we all know it won’t happen.

Sneak preview.

Too day

Back home for a bit. How long? Well …

Let’s start with the trip back on Monday and having to be in 4WD for about 1/3 of it because the rain combined with the ‘grading’ of the road made for many kilometers of muck to power through. Thanks, road crew. One day you may even learn how to do it right. It went right into solid raining that evening so I don’t expect it’s getting better out there.

Shopping. Why do I even bother to make lists? Whatever I want, they haven’t got it and don’t know when they can get it. The only certainty is that if the stocks are replenished the prices will be higher. This project has already gone in to the “outrageously expensive” category, and it would be worse if I could get the missing bits. Hmm, maybe they’re helping me out there? No, it’s just dragging out the pain.

Now tomorrow it’s supposed to maybe not rain as much. That’s the update from “sunny”, made necessary because I planned to fix the trailer that day. Can’t have any co-operation on anything, can we?

The ‘work crew’ chickened out and want to wait until there’s fewer mosquitoes. So that would be what? January? Maybe February. It has been an awful year for mozzies and with the weather continuing to alter between rainy and hot the little buggers will continue to breed like crazy.

Another odd thing is that when I first tried to fire up the new computer at home it ran in to problems. I had to boot it in ‘recovery mode’ and reset some files because the CPU was timing out. Nothing like seeing hardware failure errors being reported on the brand new laptop you got to replace the one full of hardware failures, eh? Eventually I got it talked ’round to working, but I wonder if another jostling trip down the road will shake it loose again. It shouldn’t be a physical problem, and yet there’s nothing else that happened which could cause the change. On the upside it does work with the wireless printer and with the card reader. 90% success so far.

We’ll see how the rest of the week goes. Lawn needs mowing here again but it may not stay rain-free long enough to do it.

Mother & child. Taken with Canon G11, through the window early on a cloudy morning. Significant cropping.

Plans? What are they?

Right. Had it all figured out. Monday, mow lawn before it starts raining Wednesday.

Er, starts raining Tuesday.

Uh … didn’t even get the mower started before the sunshine turned to dark clouds and the rain began – on Monday.

So much for plans.

Now for other things.

Pileated on a poll. Nikon P610.
Same spot after bird flew off. Canon T100 & 250mm.

This is the reason why I looked into longer lenses for the Canon (more on the Nikon at a later date). I had some fun looking at ‘bargain’ long lenses, reading and watching reviews. Well what do you expect from a $150 lens? Right. While the reviewers put their best faces on and try not to say anything bad … well one of the lenses bent noticeably in the middle like a wet noodle. Yeah, that’s quality build! *LOL* Some of what I looked at were mirror lenses. I had one once. Guess what? The laws of physics haven’t changed since then.

The apologetic reviews were about how you can fix the flaw in post, ’cause you know everyone is willing to spend hours correcting images that took a fraction of a second to make. Hmm. Might be easier to just draw the scene by hand on a piece of paper with a pencil.

Anyway … no new lenses. Oh and from when I started looking a week or so ago until this post the prices on every one went up about 33%. I make that 1700% annual inflation rate. You know, every time I go to the store at least $100 disappears and yet even in my feeble state I have no problem carrying the bag in.

Never mind. At least it isn’t snowing. That’s scheduled for tomorrow.

Canon 1Ds & 300mm

Could see the full moon eclipse Sunday due to clouds. This is half a moon taken with the big camera. Another reason why I want a longer Canon lens.

Leftover winter shot taken with the Olympus E410.

So it’s “play it by ear” from now on as I try to sort the many little and some not-so-little jobs of Summer into a scheduled fraught with rain.

There and back

Made the first cabin trip of the year, just to check things out. Actually got in this time: the glacier road was thawed and not too bad to drive on. Even so it didn’t help the aches and pains I already had from cutting up a neighbour’s tree for him and then splitting four barrows of wood for me. The jostling of going down that gravel highway at 60-80 clicks didn’t make anything any better. Fortunately some neighbours out there had already been in so I didn’t have to clear any trees off the road. Fergus was first in, and had to cut five. I could have gone in last weekend but herself was away at daughter’s wedding. Look, it’s too confusing even for me to understand so I suggest you don’t even try.

Same ol’ place.

The good news is no big damage to anything and the batteries were full up. The bad news is a packrat tried to move in and made a mess, including dragging tools off. They have a king of jackdaw behaviour about shiny things like screwdrivers. Now I get to see how well the new flooring, along with a lot of other stuff, cleans up from rat mess.

The lake is high.

Now I’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for tackling all the things that still need doing there, along with the clean-up. This includes removing that travel trailer, a process which I dread because it’s big and heavy and will end up clogging the driveway at home. Assuming I can get the van going to move it, and somehow get it up the hill at the cabin and through the tight trees and … yes I know I got it in there. Getting it out is another matter, believe me.

First loon of the year.

The other things working against me include ambient temperatures that run between 0 and 10 Celsius, and a forecast of pretty much cloudy with rain for the next two weeks. This is problematic when your electricity comes from solar panels because despite claims to the contrary they do not produce power in all weather. PVs need direct, bright sunlight to work. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar. Possibly both. I can say this because not only have I designed numerous installations besides my own, but have fixed even more systems that were concocted by people who definitely did not know what they were doing.

So when the sun doesn’t shine the batteries have to be recharged via the generator, and gasoline is $1.95/L here now which makes for damn expensive electricity. Like about $1 per kilowatt hour. This also ups the cost of going to and from the cabin, as well as increasing the expense of self-harvested firewood for winter heating at the house. Or Summer heating at either/both places due to the lousy weather we’re having. And no I would not be surprised to see it suddenly flip into hot and dry with wildfires everywhere again. It has happened before (2017, the year of the worst fires).

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. The bathroom needs a complete overhaul and the upstairs needs finishing and the exterior needs restaining (it weathers horribly on the windward side). Never mind all the other chores of daily life like lawn mowing. Oh yes; the wood trailer needs some serious repair.

You know, the best plan might be to take the year off and just enjoy life instead of trying to undertake all these big projects that ultimately I will not see the benefit of. It’s going to be one horrifically expensive year no matter what I do, that’s for sure.

Seriously?

Tuesday: 60 degrees F  and snow all gone.

Wednesday: 30 degrees F and …

Snow …
Snow …
Snow …
Snow!

Four new inches. Shall I look at the satellite and see if the ice is off the lake yet?

Oh well, it’s already melting.

 

Eye see

Vision impaired.

Things:

1). I do not like the chromebook. Mostly due to the fact the OS does not handle certain functions well, like file handling. The ‘sliders’ for scrolling vanish when not being used, a very bad thing for me. The keyboard is too small and so is the screen @ 11″. I have not found one single thing that it does better than a real computer, and most things it barely manages to do as well. Meanwhile my ‘real’ computer continues to throw random faults.

2). Eyesight isn’t getting better, which is not surprising. Basically it’s like having eye strain within two hours of getting up. Useless and annoying. At its best the right eye isn’t much good. Sort of like the chromebook.

3). Inflation about gives me a heart attack every time I go to the store. Politicians have decided to give us a one-time gasoline rebate check. It amounts to about one tank full in Jojo at current prices. Fortunately I do not have to drive to work every day like most people. What the hell are they going to do? Quit working? Quit eating? No indication anyone is going to try and tackle the underlying problem. Instead our Fearful Leader, Prince Harming, is looking to consolidate his position as Absolute Ruler through an illegal deal made with the opposition. Whether through bribery or blackmail I don’t know, but this one is something to protest about (unlike the emergency act use).

4). My wife has made arrangements to come home. Whether or not they will happen is another thing. So far the itinerary changed within hours of her buying the tickets, and the flight plan itself is a nightmare of no sleep for her for about two days. She says she will never use West Jet again.

5). I find myself following fewer and fewer social media sites, including but not limited to photography ones. Why? Because I can’t see the pictures and can’t afford the equipment. I think my own postings may end when I run out of the ‘backlog’ because not only do I have trouble shooting but I can’t trust the computer to process an image or keep it.

6). Spring is trying desperately to arrive. The compacted snow is melting and there are robins in the yard. Unfortunately overnight lows are still below freezing and we keep getting fresh precipitation that turns to ice. I have had the first call from a ‘lake neighbour’ wondering if it’s possible to get out there soon. No, it’s not. I went up to the city the other day (for the meds I can’t get in town) and the two larger lakes along the way are still clearly frozen from shore to shore. March is awfully early to expect otherwise.

I think I’ll make some cookies, before they raise the price of the ingredients. Again.

Miscel-LENS-eous

Dear Folk;

The weather here remains abominable. We had more snow on Thursday and now the total is around 2 feet (about 60 cm). Temperatures remain below zero Fahrenheit (less than -18 Celsius). By the time you read this I will either be dead or out shooting more pictures. I sure haven’t been doing much photography in this weather! As such the lens testing series is on hold, which is a shame as it’s nearly complete and I’m sure you’ll all be glad when it’s over.

Bleak. Very bleak.

To kill time, then, I have been watching Youtube videos on various things, including photography. I always have an interest in what other people use and what they do with it. There have been some interesting finds, such as confirmation of my evaluations of certain equipment I have – some of which could have saved me money if only I’d seen them before purchasing. In one case this has worked because the other people’s testing of the Sony 55-210mm lens confirms it is not right for me. Others confirm the the much more expensive 70-350mm would be more suitable for my purposes. Oh well. That purchase isn’t going to happen.

While I’m going on about lenses, one recurring theme was people testing ‘very fast’ lenses, many of which produced the same disappointing results. The reports went along the lines of “here is the new [brand name] 50mm f1.1 lens!” (In some cases the maximum aperture was less than 1.) Followed by “wide open it is unacceptably soft.” One manufacturer even says in its promotional material that the lens will be soft at maximum aperture and better results will be obtained at f2.0 or smaller.

Well, then, what is the point of making it with a larger opening?

Understand the “f” value is a calculation of focal length divided by aperture diameter. In theory you could build a lens with a negative f value simply by making the lens hugely round and very short focal length (not really, of course; this is a joke). The “why we don’t do this” is hinted at in a lot of wide-angle lenses that are made.

But the point is, the whole reason for promoting a lens as “very fast” is to have a lens that is usable at such a low f value. If you have to stop your f0.95 lens down to f2.0 anyway in order to get a minimally acceptable picture, then putting that extra large diaphragm in it serves no function.

No, I tell a lie: it does serve a function. It fools people into thinking they are getting a better lens than they actually are. It’s hyperbole. It’s marketing. It’s organic fertilizer. Very much along the lines of “more megapixels = automatically better camera” and used in conjunction with the urban mythology that if you simply buy the “best” (i.e. most expensive) equipment your photography will magically improve.

Nope. Uh-uh. Not gonna happen. No way José. That’s not how it works.

While I’m ranting about lenses, can we please stop the pathological obsession with background blur? You know the word I mean. I won’t use it because it has not only become a cliché, but an unhealthy fixation wherein it is perceived as the be-all and end-all of lenses and images. Give it a rest. The function is a secondary aspect of composition, not the primary one.

Torn-down Tokina; it’s hopeless.

Another thing I want to rant about is a certain photography couple who have a lot of money and even more arrogance (hey, I am allowed my arrogance; it comes built-in with my French heritage) and almost enough knowledge to know what they are talking about. Let’s say self-deprecating humour is not their strong suit. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were right all the time or even if they were wrong all the time, but they manage a mix-up with no apologies which grates across my nerves.

From these two we get such amazing revelations as “there is no aperture sweet spot” (something disproved by thousands of lens tests and which anyone can evaluate for themselves) and “there’s no such thing as depth-of-field”. Wow. Why did manufacturers put those little lines on all those lenses decade after decade then? And how come we can actually see the effect in our images? Come to that, I must be a sorcerer because I actually use this non-existent phenomenon to make sharp pictures at fixed focus points. Perhaps what they mean is “it’s not depth-of-focus” which is correct – and I have heard many people over the past half century inaccurately call it that.

To be fair, perhaps the whole problem is that this couple aren’t always expressing themselves clearly. Just to give them the benefit of the doubt. Anyway their style too is irritating to me, but if you like them by all means enjoy. And no I’m not just jealous because no manufacturers or anyone else is handing me free equipment and/or gobs of money. If you recall, I sort of did that the other way ’round myself a few years ago.

Are there any of these photography videographers that I like? Yes indeed. Here’s my top four:

Dave McKeegan Accurate, not annoying, and a nice Lancashire accent which some of you may have trouble with. (I don’t because I married a Lancashire Lass.) Seriously: this one.

Christopher Frost Nice, soft-spoken gent who knows his stuff and has a pretty wife to boot.

Arthur R A bit more raucous than the others, but not to his discredit. I appreciate that he uses a Sony a6000 often so there’s a bit of “common cause” for me. Also has a pretty wife.

Simon Another English gentleman with a real handle on classic lenses and their usage. Lots of info on the old glass.

There are quite a few others which are worth a look-in on occasion, including one lass who quite swiftly skewered Youtube videos in general and their absurd click-bait headlining nature. You know the bit: lots of superlatives, absolutes, exclamation marks, and exaggerated claims meant to get you to watch the video. I see these as a sort of warning to prospective viewers: if it says “TOP SECRETS YOU’RE DOING WRONG THAT THE PROS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT!!!!!” that’s a sure sign it’s not worth watching.

Would I ever do videos? No. Can’t see it happening. Not even with a ton of up-front money. Besides which they are all pretty much lost in the vast sea of so much to see. As such there is little chance of success. And any that do manage respectable viewership numbers also get trashed by certain other (jealous) ‘channels’ out there that seem to exist just to try and make traffic off lies like “WHY THIS TOP YOUTUBER IS BEING SUED!!!!!” and “HOW MUCH MONEY SO-AND-SO REALLY MAKES!!!!!”

Yeah, bugger that for a noise.

It’s getting warmer. No, really it is.

Brief update

It’s minus forty here this morning. That’s the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Not weather conducive to anything. The only thing that runs is the furnace. In addition to the woodstove.

My wife may well be trapped in England due to increasing pandemic problems such as people getting sick and things being closed down. She didn’t manage to finish making arrangements for her poor sister for the same reasons.

One third of our kids have tested positive for the Omicron variant. Despite being fully vaccinated.

I am staying in, staying away from people, and trying to stay warm. Needless to say it is not good weather for photography. Not even inside.

Oh and the new fibre optic phone system has quit working. Just the phone, though. I don’t care, although it would be a problem if an emergency should arise.

One from the ‘archives’, then:

Icicle. (Nikon P610)

Trapped

As my recovery advances Fate decided to hand everyone here a new problem in the form of severe flooding. Every highway from the Lower Mainland to the North has been destroyed. Entire cities being evacuated. People trapped. So far one dead, but they haven’t accounted for everyone yet. They are using helicopters to save people trapped between slides on one road.

This isn’t one road with a problem, it’s multiple roads with multiple problems. Mudslides, bridges and sections of roadway washed out, flooding blocking routes … It’s a disaster. We really didn’t need this, but it wasn’t unexpected as wildfires destroy the vegetation that holds the land together. Add a series of heavy rainfall events on top of that and our majestic mountains come tumbling down. It has happened before, but not on such a scale. Highways 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 97, and 99 (as well as their sub-routes) all have several areas of destruction. This is not “push the mud off the road and let the cars through” like we usually get; this is “we need to rebuild the road”. Great thing to have happen when Winter is closing in. We’ve already had significant snowfall in areas. This morning it was -12C here.

It doesn’t affect me much, except our supply lines are cut off now. All of them. No food, no fuel, no anything. We can get as far as Kamloops, but that’s about it. I doubt the chimpanzees in charge have the logistical training to figure out how to route goods out of Alberta, so it will be up to volunteers again.

Meanwhile Hopeless Halfwit Horgan is “considering” a state of emergency. By the time he gets ’round to it we’ll either have fixed the roads – or signed up with Alberta as new territory. We’ve often joked about separating from the Vancouver Empire. Now’s our chance! *LOL*

I’ll survive, but there is a terrible likelihood that others will not be so lucky. Meanwhile idiots have gone into the stores and bought everything they could whether they need it or not. No doubt they’ll offer to sell it to their starving neighbours at greatly inflated prices. Yes, we just saw this during the wildfires.

No lessons learned.

C’est la vie.

Isolated

I am doing some photos and have some ‘leftovers’ stored up. I’m just not very quick about anything of late.

Where am I?

One view

Friday I needed to go in to town. By the time I got to the main road I was feeling like a cured ham due to all the smoke. In fact BC managed to grab the honours for “worst air on Earth”, with the Okanagon area coming in with an Air Quality Index of 415. That’s “extremely dangerous”; roughly the equivalent of sucking the exhaust out of a semi’s stack under full load. We’re doing much better here with about 100 points less than that which puts us in the “very unhealthy” category.

I started out with fairly clear air when I left. Sucked down fumes through my whole trip. Then came back to a lake full of precipitated particles – which have yet to go away. There’s no promise of rain in the forecast, but possibly more lightning which could start more fires. Of course it’s a holiday weekend here, and lots of morons are heading out for some fun in the sun. Despite roads being closed, trails being closed, campsites being closed, evacuation zones being closed, and of course the whole bloody area being full of damn thick smoke. They’ll go anyway and think it no end of fun as they light their illegal campfires and send more of our province up in flames.

Halfway through “fire season” and we’ve had more fires than the average for a whole one. Also set a record for “wildfires of note” (the ones that endanger people directly). I wouldn’t be surprised if this year surpasses the nightmare of 2017 in terms of total area burned and/or damage done.

What does it really look like? I set the Nikon on “daylight” and snapped a shot (no alterations, colour correct, resulting image pretty much what you’d see in person):

This isn’t the worst-afflicted area either.

I’m doing nothing. The air isn’t fit to breath. I’m too old and too broken-down to deal with this stuff. A HEPA filter and N95 masks are no match for it.

Is my sight getting any better? I can’t tell because the world around me has gone into “soft focus” with lots of real “floaters” obstructing the view.

Side note: for some reason I grabbed the Olympus E-410 when I was home. The first picture is taken with that. I don’t think I’ll be doing any photography any time soon, but I have some prepared from this past week before things really went wahoonie-shaped. I’ve been thinking a lot about what equipment I have (four DSLRs with five different lens systems between them?) and will remark on that at a later date.