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.

Finally back to the cabin

What with one thing and another (especially weather) it has taken me quite some time to get back out in the woods and pick up where I left off rather suddenly last fall.

Yes that’s snow.

Not only was there still snow in the dark shadows and along the road edge, but the road itself was like a lunar surface – after a heavy artillery barrage. The first 4 kilometers could best be described as “shredded”. After that … well they were grading the one section known for staying flat, hard, and smooth so I guess that explains it. No one told them they’re supposed to do the bumpy bits.

Think of it as ready-to-slice firewood.

Although not actually blocking my route, there are plenty of trees down. Again. Some of it will be fine firewood, other bits are just in the way. The notorious “new path” between the two routes is blocked again, as it is every year. Eventually there will be no trees left on that triangle of land.

Dock? Not any more.

Although the lake was not as high this year as last, it has done some damage. As of my arrival the wind was too choppy to put the water line out (I have no desire to be knocked over by a wave and drowned, or even just doused). Perhaps I can get to that tomorrow. When it’s supposed to snow. Spring? Not ’round here, mate!

Mr. & Mrs. Goldeneye (it’s a kind of waterfowl).

I brought along only two cameras this time: the venerable (if cantankerous) Nikon P610 and the Canon 1Ds (to try it out on landscape shots). The weather is cloudy so I didn’t get any beautiful snow-capped mountain pictures on the way in. Besides I forgot my concocted CF card reader so I can’t off-load from the Canon. I also forgot the micro SD adapter so I can’t check the video from my new toy:

New & cheap action/dashcam.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Other than snow, I mean. I have a huge amount of work to do all over the place here. Again. But at least nothing got destroyed over the Winter.

Nikon nice ones

As the venerable P610 heads towards yet another 1000 pictures to its credit and while it is still (fairly) working, a few shots before both camera and photographer give up. The weather has gone vile, and I find myself looking at new equipment for no good reason. What I really want is some decent circumstances in which to use what I’ve got! But you can’t buy that. And if I buy a new camera I’ll just be all the more frustrated for not being able to use it.

Leaf me alone.

How green was my algae.

One foggy morning.

Cotton ice.

Austrian skyscraper.

The End

New Cameras

Strange circumstances led me to buy a pair of “trail cams”. One of the circumstances being my desire to try them out, another being a need for surveillance at two locations, and the third – the ‘clincher’ – being a pair put on sale for 50% off. Okay, let’s see how good 12 MP Tasco cameras are.

The answer is: not bad, but not fantastic. Pretty easy to set up (I read the instructions after getting them working, it’s that simple). Resolution is not bad and the lens is fairly sharp. There’s no angle of view adjustment on these: fixed focal length. They also have infrared night vision, which works about as well as you might expect, i.e. not very good. You really wouldn’t be able to identify anyone from the night images.

Now the downside. False triggers are wanton and often. I have lots of photos of apparently nothing moving (most likely wind disturbing branches) and sunrise drives it crazy as it transitions from IR to daylight imaging. One of the testing problems was getting anything in front of the camera that it is supposed to take a picture of. Where is all that wildlife that’s been abundant in the yard this year? I only got this picture of some kind of weird bear creature.

Sasquatch perhaps?

As for surveillance, it disturbingly did catch something:

I have no idea who this is, but they pulled into the yard and right out again bold as brass. Considering how remote the location, this is kind of scary. The picture before shows me scanning the sky for an airplane I heard overhead, and the one after shows my friend Lorne’s truck pulling out when he went to town. I had left the gate open to make it easy for him, and this is the thanks I get.

There are settings to change how often it takes a shot when triggered, and right now it’s at 30 seconds. I should have had it at 15 seconds or on video but the number of false triggers caused me to slow it down a bit. See my reward!

Of course even if you do get a photo of the burglars it doesn’t prevent your house from being robbed, and this clearly demonstrates that having the gate locked is superior to any camera surveillance.

Meanwhile we have some documentation of the wood harvest:

Going out to get wood.
Dragging a log in.
Camera at home captured me coming in with a trailer load.

Not the best equipment ever, but the least disappointing photography purchase I’ve made since the Fuji EXR. I will continue to experiment with them and see if I can get any pictures of actual animals, other than ‘sasquatch’.

Weakly update

What can I say? It rains and it rains and it rains. Today, Monday, it is not raining. But it did last night and probably will again tonight. Lots of thunderstorms too. And some sounds of crashing in the woods that probably indicate trees falling due to the saturated soil. Likely they’ll go down across the road.

Oh, that road. They were trying to grade it when I came back out on Thursday. It was raining. All they succeeded in doing was churning up mud. Luckily I have 4WD and managed to slog through the first 12 kms slowly. Then it was back to hard potholes. I hate to think what it’s like now.

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Monday morning fog

I’ve made progress. The entire drainage system is back together and working. I tested it twice before closing up the massive hole in the kitchen floor. Then I started in on the upstairs.

I didn’t panel the walls and ceiling or put the new windows in; the contractor did that in 2018. Now it’s up to me to finish the divider walls and do the floor. This is sort of ‘secondary’ on the importance list. First priority now is to finish the kitchen floor. That needs more material, which I’m hopefully going to get on Wednesday, and a lot more hard work. Oh boy.

Some visitors stopped by today. I don’t know if these are the same deer I took pictures of at the end of June or not. If they are, those little ones sure grow fast.

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Nothing much else going on here photography-wise. I had plans, but they all involve sunshine which I don’t seem to be getting much of.

 

First cabin trip of the year!

What can I say? The road is in terrible condition and there’s still snow out there!

Saw this spruce grouse along the way:

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Got out there and the snow hasn’t all left:

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The lake level is extremely high this year:

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There’s another tree down across the path I’ve been trying to clear for years:

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This Barrow’s Goldeneye was relaxing on the water (never seen one before):

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And of course this is why I go:

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Oh it looks good, but it needs massive amounts of work inside yet! Especially since a packrat took up residence over the winter and destroyed a lot. Also, the batteries for the power system have failed – after ten years.

Work, work, and more work. Plus money.

Cameras used: Canon T100, Fujifilm F80 EXR, Nikon P610.

 

A Fuji update

I have now shot over 100 images with the Fuji F80 EXR. The success rate so far is 89%. That’s 89% of the pictures coming out in focus and acceptably exposed, not 89% great pictures. Even when I try difficult lighting situations or use ‘Program’ instead of ‘EXR’ mode it comports itself admirably. I’m not only pleased with this camera, I’m impressed. It also points out a certain ironic twist in camera development: the EXR uses its ‘extra’ pixels afforded when it shifts from 12MP to 6MP to improve picture quality, either by increasing the dynamic range or improving noise-to-image ratio or concentrating on resolution. Now today we have cameras with twice that number of pixels, and they don’t do this little trick. Imagine how good a picture you could get with even an 18MP sensor shifting down to 9MP to produce the same results as the EXR achieves with just 6MP. To look at it another way, this is like making a 6MP sensor twice as big in physical size. Sort of the reverse of the modern camera cramming ever more pixels into ever smaller sensor space – and not actually getting any improved results. Yes they were really thinking when they designed this little gem!

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Witchy Woods

The effect here is cause by shooting telephoto into a bare spot on the steep hill rising behind the neighbour’s house; the ‘mist’ is in fact smoke from their chimney.

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Signal Loss

Here we see why I sometimes have poor, or no, Internet connection; enough snow sticks to the satellite dish and the beam is too scattered to work.

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What was that?

Duncan whipped around to look at something. Or maybe nothing. The image has a nice ‘old film feel’, something like aged Ektachrome.

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Bird on a Beam

Old crow sitting atop the superstructure of a sign frame. Full 10X telephoto shot from quite a ways away. Still fairly sharp.

I’m looking forward to trying the EXR’s dynamic range control in the woods this year; you get a vicious contrast between deep shadow and bright sunlight coming through the trees; it’s quite a challenge for any camera.

The only downside to this camera I’ve found is that it piques my curiosity about just how good a new Fujifilm X series camera really is. Unfortunately I did not win the lottery this week, so it’s unlikely I will find out personally for some time yet.

It’s trite, I know

I had been thinking about doing this post to the point where I’d selected almost all the photos for it. There was some hesitancy because it’s such a “year end” thing to do and I find those rather annoying for the most part. Further to that I started seeing other people doing the same thing. Oh boy, it’s the legendary “Obligatory Marble Shot” situation all over again. Nevertheless and despite my own reservations I went ahead and constructed the post on December 17. Will it get published? Only time will tell. (If you’re reading this either it did or you have magical powers.)

Selections were made on three criteria; the technical quality, the artistic value, and the wholly subjective “because I like it” factor.

First up, two from the Kodak V1003, the cheapest camera in my arsenal:

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Yellow
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Vice

“Yellow” and “Vice” show how artistic you can be with a very simple camera. Something I like to demonstrate for the benefit of new photographers or those just looking to find their way.

Now two from the Kodak P850, as we move up in camera value:

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Candlestick Colour
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Walkin’ Blues

Here we have the original colour version of the candlestick photo series and the P850’s rendition from the “Walkin’ Blues” series. The richness of this camera’s captures with its CCD sensor never ceases to amaze me.

Shifting up in price again to the Nikon P610. Oddly enough even though this is still my “main” camera I had a hard time choosing from its photos, because a lot of what I take with it is not done for artistic reasons.

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Hannibal
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Lonely Stranger

These two show the P610 at its artistic best, I think. “Hannibal” radiates warmth and fuzziness, just like the actual cat. “Lonely Stranger” is not only poignant but also personal, as it is a self-portrait. Usually the Nikon is shooting pictures of the moon or wildlife, because one of its main attributes is the fantastic zoom lens. I just didn’t think those pictures were top-of-the-class for technical or artistic merit.

Now for the most expensive camera, the Canon T100, we have a couple of shots that show for a camera that spends most of its time doing weird photographic experiments it can do some great art if given a chance.

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Broken
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Chimney

“Broken” is pure art gallery level snobbery, whereas the “Chimney” is serendipitous colour and form. Besides these I found quite a few taken with the T100 which were suitable, and narrowing it down was difficult. I had to somewhat suppress the “third criterion” to make the choices.

And while we’re on about the Canon’s experimental usage and my “because I like it” qualification, here’s two from the unlikely yet strangely successful Canon + Brownie experiment:

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Vase

This is actually a bad picture, speaking technically. Most of it is out of focus and where it is focused it isn’t sharp. The composition is random and purposeless. Yet I like it. Not just for the odd method used to make it, but because the whole is greater than the parts and it becomes an abstract of slightly blurred shape and colour which could probably hang in MOMA and sell for a million dollars in print form.

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Isetta

From the same experiment series, the Isetta image fails on technical merit and arguably is about as artistic as a mistaken shutter trip. Yet again, I like it. My whimsical nature gave it composition that would ordinarily be found only in a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, although I doubt they’d be accepting of the quality otherwise.

The main reason for all of these pictures remains the same: I’m having fun with my cameras. You should too.